Blog Post – Two Men – Same Birthdays, But Different Impacts Upon the World

Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born on the exact same day – February 12, 1809.  Here is a compare and contrast of the two lives:

  • Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin in Hodgenville, Kentucky.  Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England.
  • Abraham Lincoln’s father was a frontiersman.  Charles Darwin’s father was a doctor.
  • Abraham Lincoln was the first-born of Thomas and Nancy Lincoln. Charles Darwin was the fifth of six children born to Robert and Susannah Darwin.
  • Nancy Hanks Lincoln instilled the virtues of honesty and compassion in her son and sowed the seeds of his intellectual curiosity.  After her death, Thomas Lincoln married the widow Sarah Bush Johnston.  Abraham Lincoln’s stepmother furthered Nancy’s work in cultivating Abe’s reading comprehension and intellect.  She understood the value of an education and provided him books to read.  Charles Darwin was greatly influenced by his paternal grandfather Erasmus Darwin, who had his own theories on the evolution of species.
  • Abraham Lincoln’s mother died when he was ten years old. Charles Darwin’s mother died when he was eight years old, and he was raised by his older sisters.
  • Abraham Lincoln was largely self-taught, having only one year of formal education.  Charles Darwin enrolled in the Edinburgh University in Scotland at age sixteen where he studied medicine.  He also studied biology at Cambridge.
  • Lincoln is best known for issuing the Emancipation Proclamation and freeing millions of slaves, claiming all men are created equal, as he stated in his Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863:
    “Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Darwin’s theory of evolution claims men were not created, instead they evolved, and men are not equal, as some are more evolved than others.
  • Lincoln stated in his Second Annual Message, December 1, 1862: “In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free…We shall nobly save – or meanly lose – the last, best hope of earth…The way is plain…which if followed the world will forever applaud and God must forever bless.”

    In contrast, Darwin published his Origin of Species, 1859, and in 1871, his Descent of Man, in which he wrote:  “With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated… Civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world…

    The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.”
  • Lincoln’s views were echoed by other Presidents, such as Franklin D. Roosevelt who stated in United Flag Day broadcast, June 14, 1942:  “The belief in man, created free, in the image of God – is the crucial difference between ourselves and the enemies we face.”

    Harry S Truman stated in his Inaugural Address, January 20, 1949:  “We believe that all men are created equal because they are created in the image of God. From this faith we will not be moved.”

    Ronald Reagan stated to the citizens of Hambach, Germany, May 6, 1985: “Each of us…is made…in the image of God, the image of God the Creator.”

Darwin’s views were echoed by US Supreme Court  Chief Justice Roger B. Taney in the Dred Scott v
Sanford Decision in 1856:  “Slaves had…been regarded as beings of an inferior order…so far inferior,
that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the Negro might justly
and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.”

Karl Marx who read Darwin’s Origin of Species a year after its publication, then reread it two years
later, writing: “Darwin’s book is very important and serves me as a basis in natural selection for the
class struggle in history.”

Darwin’s theory influenced Margaret Sanger, who promoted “eugenics” and “forced sterilization” to
eliminate inferior races. Sanger founded Planned Parenthood.  In her book Pivot of Civilization, 1922,
she called for the: “Elimination of ‘human weeds’…overrunning the human garden; for the cessation
of ‘charity’ because it prolonged the lives of the unfit; for the segregation of ‘morons, misfits, and the
maladjusted’; and for the sterilization of genetically inferior races.”

Darwin influenced Hitler, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao Tse-tung, whose totalitarian regimes killed and
enslaved millions.

  • Lincoln’s last act in office was to put on all national coins the motto, “In God We Trust.”   In the 1870’s as Darwin’s theory of evolution was attacked from several angles.  As a response, he made several revisions in successive editions of the Origin of Species.   He spent much of the 1870’s shifting away from the theory of evolution and towards the garden, researching and publishing books on plants and earthworms.
  • Abraham Lincoln is best known for the courage he had taking in freeing the slave.  He was greatly influenced by the sixth President of the United States, John Quincy Adams, who after losing re-election in 1828 ran for US House and won his seat in 1830.  Adams spoke many times on the House floor about the need to abolish slavery, believing it was a moral evil and contradicted the ideals of the Declaration of Independence.  Abraham Lincoln served in the House alongside Adams and, after Adams’ collapse on the floor of the House on February 21, 1848 and death two days later, was appointed to the committee to arrange publication of the Congressional speeches in memory of Adams. After Lincoln’s assassination on April 15, 1865, his body Lay in State at the White House and the Capitol Rotunda.  On April 19, 1865, Dr. Phineas D. Gurley, pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC, who had ministered to the Lincoln family during their stay in the White House, delivered the funeral sermon.  He remarked, “that grave will be a precious and a consecrated spot. The friends of Liberty and of the Union will repair to it in years and ages to come, to pronounce the memory of its occupant blessed, and, gathering from his very ashes, and from the rehearsal of his deeds and virtues, fresh incentives to patriotism, they will there renew their vows of fidelity to their country and their God.”   On April 21, 1865, Lincoln’s body was placed in a nine-car train to make its way to Springfield, Illinois, with stops in eleven cities along the way so heartbroken Americans could pay their respects.  After Illinois politicians indicated they wanted him buried near downtown Springfield, widow Mary Todd Lincoln refused, telling them Lincoln wanted buried in an out-of-the-way place.   Thus, on May 4, 1865 Abraham Lincoln’s final resting place was in Oak Ridge Cemetery near Springfield.

Charles Darwin died at his Down House on April 19, 1882.  His family planned to bury him at Down
House, next to his three children who had died in infancy and his brother.  But a campaign mounted
by Thomas Henry Huxley “Darwin’s bulldog” and grandfather of author Aldous Huxley and Darwin’s
cousin Francis Galton gained him a burial site at Westminster Abbey.  Their efforts required the
proper authorities to place Darwin’s “eminence in science” over his well-publicized enmity towards
the Church. 

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