Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

Lincoln and Darwin 200 Years After:Altering the course of history



Lincoln’s photo via George Eastman House. Darwin’s photo via Colin Purrington.


Lincoln’s notes via USA Today. Darwin’s notes via

February 12, 2009 marks the 200th birth anniversary of Charles Darwin, the shy Englishman who would jolt the scientific world. The publication of his book, On the Origin of Species, considered a seminal work in scientific literature and a landmark work in evolutionary biology, sent shock waves that is felt even until today. One only needs to listen to the raging debate on evolution, intelligent design and creationism. In a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, Robert M. Bloomfield from London’s Natural History Museum was quoted as saying:

“It’s difficult to overstate how pervasive Darwin’s work is. He undoubtedly produced the biggest idea in science in the 19th century and, some people say, of all time. Because when you question your relationship to nature, you question everything.”

Professional and amateur Darwin followers can now browse an extensive online site for reading and reference. This collection includes notes Darwin wrote from his travels in the world, from Punta Alta in the Patagonians to the Galagapos Island, where he sharpened his scientific pursuits.

Somewhere in Hardin County, Kentucky in the New World, a man of comparable historic significance was also born. On the same day, month and year Darwin was born 200 years ago in Shropshire, England, across the Atlantic, Abraham Lincoln also made his entrance in the world. It’s almost an unbelievable coincidence, but it’s actually true. Early on, Lincoln established himself as a highly-intelligent and respected politician, who would become, arguably the best American president. But more than that, he shook up the whole nation by advocating equal rights for all people, including African Americans, a move that would eventually  cost him his life. His povital decisions saved the union from the ravages of the bloody Civil War, and more importantly, paved the way for many, many more struggles, and some victories like the signing of the Civil Rights legislation and to the election of the first African American president in the United States.

Today, Newsweek published a very interesting article entitled, Who Was More Important: Lincoln or Darwin?

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