Unsurprisingly, the original version of this post has been getting some traffic lately. I was going to revamp it and repost, but
On February 12th, 1809, two visionaries emerged on opposite sides of the Atlantic. Both were cautious, erudite, soft-spoken men who were destined to transform the world in their own way.
In a letter to Asa Gray Darwin, a self-proclaimed supporter of the Union endorsed Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation:
Well, your President has issued his fiat against Slavery—God grant it may have some effect.
I don’t know if Lincoln ever picked up the Origin.
I suppose he was rather busy in the sixties. He is reported to have read (and enjoyed) Robert Chambers’ Vestiges. While this proto-evolutionary text was widely derided by the scientific community (including Darwin himself), it did mark a sincere effort to develop a rational history of life that accorded with the fossil record.
Growing up in Kentucky, it’s almost impossible that a young Abe didn’t encounter some of the abundant Paleozoic fossils that litter the state. And, in keeping with my previous rant about our fossilferous infrastructure, the stone which surrounds Lincoln’s tomb is packed with coral and brachiopod fossils.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Lincoln’s most famous address, delivered amongst fields tilled with fallen soldiers, begins with a declaration of historical context. History helps us to make sense of chaos and savagery of modern life. This is also where Karl Marx and L. R. Hubbard fit in.
But aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln how was the play?