I wonder if he knew how close he was to inventing a central plank of what we know as Keynsianism or if he was simply being intuitive:
While many politicians backed internal improvements for political or pecuniary gain, Lincoln was a true believer. At first, this redounded to his advantage. But in 1837, the United States fell into one of the worst financial depressions of its young history. Across the country, scores of banks failed. Unemployment and ruined fortunes led to food riots. In Illinois, which had been propped up by land speculation and massive state spending, the debt exploded from $400,000 in 1836 to $6.5 million in 1838---compared with a puny $150,000 in annual revenue.
Early in the crisis, erstwhile backers abandoned the internal improvements program. But Lincoln fought to expand it. When the canals and roads were finished, he argued, the state would reap the rewards, so it ought to endure the short-term pain. Thus Lincoln tied his reputation to a disastrous policy. By the fall of 1839, with the debt rising and with mounting evidence of corruption among private builders, the projects were shut down--- “without benefit of clergy,” Lincoln noted sardonically.
---from Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled HIs Greatness by Joshua Wolf Shenk.