Born 200 years ago, February 12, 1809: Charles Darwin, who changed the way we think about a human’s place in the bios, and Abraham Lincoln, who changed the way we think about a human’s place in society.
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But perhaps these two Great Men were not born on the same day. Darwin’s birth was in a time zone five hours later than Lincoln’s. If “date of birth” is defined by calendar, then the two men were born on the same calendar day. But if Baby Abe was born later than 7 p.m. in that little log cabin near what is now Hodgenville, Kentucky, then it was already February 13 where Baby Darwin lay in Shrewsbury, England. Similarly, if Infant Charles took Breath One earlier than 5 a.m., then it was still February 11 in Kentucky. Accordingly, to be safe, I am posting this a day early.
Scores of articles have been written to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. One of the most interesting appeared in the February 2009 issue of Smithsonian magazine. I reprint it here in its entirety. The images and links are my choices.
Link to original article.
Lincoln’s Contested Legacy
Great Emancipator or unreconstructed racist? Defender of civil liberties or subverter of the Constitution? Each generation evokes a different Lincoln. But who was he?
By Philip B. Kunhardt III
From the time of his death in 1865 to the 200th anniversary of his birth, February 12, 2009, there has never been a decade in which Abraham Lincoln‘s influence has not been felt. Yet it has not been a smooth, unfolding history, but a jagged narrative filled with contention and revisionism. Lincoln’s legacy has shifted again and again as different groups have interpreted Continue reading “Lincoln’s Contested Legacy”
These days Americans accept and expect famous faces on our coins: Washington quarters (first minted in 1932), Jefferson nickels (1938), Roosevelt dimes (1946), Franklin (1948) and Kennedy (1964) half-dollars, Eisenhower (1971), Susan B. Anthony (1979), and Sacagawea (2000) dollars. But from first United States coinage in 1793 until 1909, no coin had the image of a real person on it. In 1909, however, Pres. Theodore Roosevelt wished to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth by putting Honest Abe’s face on a coin.
In spite of Lincoln’s popularity, however, not all were in favor of his image on a coin. In addition to setting a “monarchical” precedent (originally kiboshed by George Washington), some were opposed for less worthy reasons:
Continue reading “Lincoln Head Cents: 1909-2009 and Beyond…”
Born 199 years ago, February 12, 1809: Charles Darwin, who changed the way we think about a human’s place in the bios, and Abraham Lincoln, who changed the way we think about a human’s place in society.