“We’re all immigrants,” Erin Mast said to me, describing “American by Belief,” the newest exhibit recently opened at President Lincoln’s Cottage on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home. Ms. Mast is the Executive Director of the Cottage and spoke to me last week about the new exhibit while they were doing the initial installation.“Some of us immigrated by choice; others by force,” she said. “This exhibit is the story of President Lincoln’s effort to encourage immigration [to] the U.S. and tell the story of how people choose to come here.”
Abraham Lincoln signed the Act to Encourage Immigration into law on July 4, 1864. The act was the first — and only — law to encourage immigration into the United States, as opposed to trying to control immigration. The American by Belief exhibit at the Lincoln Cottage museum gives a look at the immigration issue of the 1860s and balances it against today’s immigrations issues — and how similar the reasons for immigration were then and today.
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