12 February 2019

Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin - Both Born OTD in 1809

Intro Copy

February 12, 1809 is the birthday of two very different men, born an ocean apart, both of whom would have a profound and lasting impact on world history. By almost all accounts, Abraham Lincoln was the right man for the right time. Born in a log cabin in Hodgenville, Kentucky, this poor, tall, gangly backwoodsman had the mental wherewithal to rise from obscurity to become President of the United States during the country’s most challenging period, the Civil War. While not holding the beliefs of the strict abolitionists, Lincoln did hate the institution of slavery and did not want it to spread further. He was willing to send soldiers to die by the thousands to ensure that the United States would remain one country and not split into two separate nations. Had the country been allowed to divide itself, the U.S., in all likelihood, would not have become the superpower that shaped the 20th Century. Charles Darwin, born in Shrewsbury in Shropshire, England, was brought up in radically different circumstances than Lincoln. Darwin’s father was a wealthy doctor and financier. He attended the University of Edinburgh Medical School and later Christ’s College in Cambridge where he became interested in botany and natural history. As a result of his voyage upon the HMS Beagle in 1831, which included his historic stop in the Galapagos Islands, Darwin would develop his theory of evolution. His idea that all species on Earth descended over time from common ancestors is now considered a foundational scientific precept. Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, published in 1859, is the basis of evolutionary biology. Other than sharing a birthday, one thing that may tie these two influential men together is their views on slavery. Darwin was the grandson of two prominent abolitionists, Erasmus Darwin and Josiah Wedgwood, and he detested the institution of slavery. Lincoln, in 1863, signed the Emancipation Proclamation and later fought for the Thirteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1865 and forever abolished slavery in the United States. Teachers, librarians and STEM/STEAM program leaders can help students search eLibrary for relevant information for research papers on Lincoln, Darwin, the Civil War, Evolution or many other topics. Possible search strategies include using field codes to look for article titles: TI(Lincoln) AND “Civil War” or TI(Darwin) AND Evolution.

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