February 12, 2009
Happy Birthday Abraham Lincoln
Since Phoenix already covered Charles Darwin, I feel I should cover another person born on February 12, 1809: the greatest president the country has ever known, Abraham Lincoln.
Talk about the right man for the right job at the right time. Lincoln was elected in 1860, a time when the country was on the verge of civil war. It would ultimately be his election that pushed the South over the edge. But through shrewd political and military maneuvering, Lincoln was ultimately successful in keeping the country together. But just five days after Robert E. Lee surrendered, signaling the end of the war, Lincoln was shot. He died the next day.
I recently read an excellent biography of Lincoln, With Malice Toward None: A Life of Abraham Lincoln by Stephen B. Oates. You should read it too. This book really sheds a light on Lincoln the man, not the myth (for a de-bunking of Lincoln myths, go to the Snopes article), and made me appreciate him and his accomplishments even more.
Note: For years this photo by Alexander Gardner was thought to be the last portrait of Lincoln. It was purported to have been taken on April 10, 1865, the day after Lee's surrender and five days before his death. However, evidence suggests that this photo was taken in February 1865, a few months before his death. That would make this photo by Henry J. Warren the last known photograph of Lincoln. It was taken around the time of his second inaugural on March 4, 1865 (the reason Lincoln's hair looks all funky is because the photo was taken on the White House balcony on a windy day).