Happy Birthday, Liberators of the World!

12 February, 2009

Happy 200th birthday to two of the greatest liberators of the world.

Abraham Lincoln, born 12 April, 1809, with the signing the Emancipation Proclamation following the Battle of Antietam, freed those held in chattel slavery (initially within the areas in rebellion, but later expanded to all slaves) and began the process of healing the ‘original sin’  of our nation’s birth.  We have not, either here in America, or in the world at large, achieved equal rights for all, but it will happen.  Someday.

Charles Darwin, born 12 April, 1809, with the publication in 1859 of  The Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection, or, The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, gave biology, medicine, zoology, paleaontology and botany an essential tool for making sense out of the world.  And his theory has been able to absorb genetics, the discovery of DNA and RNA, and all other developments within modern natural sciences without losing the essential  rightness of Darwin’s original theory.  Not all Americans nor all citizens of the earth recognize Darwin’s theory, but all have, through better medical care, benefited.

Thank you both.



  1. Odd the connections to history we have if we only look.

    When I was in my early teen years, we’d just got back from Ethiopia, and there was a very old woman who went to the church my parents frog-marched me to (she was over 100) in 1960 – ’61. My father used to make me go over to do yard and house work for her, and I listened to her stories. Her mother went to school with and had been a very good friend of Mary Todd, and had passes through the confederate and federal lines to visit her on occasion. She even had pictures of herself and the Lincoln boys (she was a toddler) and many other things. What got my attention was what she said about her mother and Lincoln. Her mother, being from Culpepper (pronounced Cuuuhll – peppuh) not withstanding, was a great admirer of Mr. Lincoln. She especially admired his fine high voice, and in fact wished that she had a fine high voice like his. It made even a teenager sit up and take notice.

    (((Billy))), do you know where Laurelton is? I have relatives there, and over the years went to Sunday school and Church in the methodist church in “town” when we visited. Went to funerals there, weddings, never thought much about the place.

    About six years ago our reenactment group played for an event at Bucknell U for a James Getty appearance, and he mentioned that his (Lincoln’s) uncle had actually lived there and had founded that church. My cousin is the caretaker, and when I played for one of his daughter’s wedding, I asked him about it. He was surprised I hadn’t known.

    The old lady I mentioned first gave my father some things, and she died within a year of our moving to Virginia. Her family came up from Culpepper and other southern locales, and my father asked if he could buy some of the articles if they weren’t interested. They had thrown it out or burned it all, it “was just yankee trash…”

    If any of her relatives are still alive who were involved, they must scream in their sleep if they dream about it. Antique Road Show and all…

  2. Sarge: I’m constantly amazed at how close the Civil War actually is. My father (born in ’35) remembers talking to old men who had fought in the tragic conflict. When I delivered papers in Sharpsburg, there was a little old woman whose aunt, uncle and brother were civilian casualties during the Battle of Antietam (she was the youngest child of her father’s second wife) — one dead, two maimed. Weird how close events of 140 years ago can be.

    Laurelton was a station on the Long Island Railway (how I know that, I have no clue — never been there). You’ll need to be a little more specific.

    Too bad about the ‘yankee trash.’ We’ve got a few items like that, but nothing from the Civil War.

  3. The Laurelton I’m talking about is in PA, twenty miles or so west of Louisberg just off of PA 45. Near there is a state park called Hairy John. Interesting story behind that, too.

    I live in Altoona, which was constructed by the PRR as a town to support the railroad. Between 1950 and ’55 (with a few months out in Okinawa)we were stationed at Fort Myer, VA. We lived on what was called the ‘south post’ which was all WWII temporary buildings, and is now gone, part of the cemetary. My father is buried within a three minute walk of where our quarters used to be.

    But, I could look out my bedroom window and seethe Lee mansion and the cemetary (used to play in it clandestinely), and from our livingroom windows we could see the Lincolm memorial and the Washington monument.

    We’d come to Altoona to visit family, and one set lived in an old house, one of the first built in this area it turns out. There was an old man who lived a couple doors down whose father had the house built and he was born and raised in it. (Bear in mind, I lived on military posts so older people were a rarity to me)

    My father later told me that this man had been born in the 1850’s, but he talked about being sent to the cellar for something and seeing what he thought was a ghost or devil. His parents told him it WAS a ghost and he wasn’t to mention it or it would Get Him and Take Him Away. What he’d seen was an escaped slave, that house was a stop on the underground railroad, his parents were “conductors”.

    My mother-in-law was born in 1901, was raised bu her grandfather, a veteran of the 125th PA. He’d fought at Sharpsburg and Chancellorsville, the civil war actually killed him in 1917.

    My father-in-law was born in 1892 in Ohio, he remembered a man who boarded with them, a very odd sort of person, who was one of the Andrews Raid members. From what he discribed the man was really suffering from survivor guilt.

  4. Don’t forget, Lincoln’s main motivation was to keep England out of the conflict, for they were sympathetic to the South. Having already abolished slavery however, England couldn’t back a side promoting slavery against one which outlawed it. In the beginning, there was hope of reunion, so the slave issue was off the table, but by the time of the Proclamation, that hope was gone. Also, he hoped that it would force deep unrest in the South, inspiring slaves to rise up and revolt. Abe was a crafty guy.

  5. Sarge: As always, great stories. Near as I can make out, the Underground Railroad appears to have avoided the Lackawanna and Wyoming Valleys. Though a line did run past Williamsport, up the Loyalsock, and up through Milford and Harford near the NY border.

    Philly: The Emancipation Proclamation is a perfect example of the good that can be acieved through politics. It gives lie to those who say that partisan politics persued for a specific advantage is always bad.

  6. February 12, 1809 was a very good day for world history. Lincoln was shrewd and Darwin was meticulous. The world is a much better place because of what they accomplished.

  7. Chappy: Agreed.

  8. 1809 was pretty good, I guess. Don’t forget Mendelssohn!

    (((Billy))), toward the end of May our group will be in Mountoursville for a presentation for the middle school. We camp along the Loyalsock, just south of the airport. There’s a memoir by a Quaker who travelled with indians down the Loyalsock during pre revolutionary days, and he reports a “supernatural” occurance right about where we camp. I think the book is called A Freind Among The Indians”. Pretty neat book.

  9. Montoursville’s a neat town. Fantastic model railroad shop there — called Englishes. They are also Bowser Manufacturing, specialize in PRR stuff. Sounds like fun, but then again, it is a Middle School. Those kids ain’t human.

  10. I used to be subject to the horrors of The Sunday Afternoon Drive (Said in a hollow, echoing voice). It probably would have been actually enjoyable, but I was required to wear my Sunday clothes while we were out, and I always got in trouble for “spoiling” my good clothes, and asking rather strange questions.

    We went down to a place along the Rapahannock where I was informed was the site of where George Washington threw a dollar across. My questions were: did he get in trouble? (My mother would have fantods if I lost a nickel, I could only guess at how Washington would have gotten trouble) and the biggie, WHY did he do it? Well, one was advised to not inquire, just soak up the view of the grown-ups nodding gravely at this signifigant occurance at this historical spot, and Absorb the Mystery.

    Then came the trip to Manassass. First, I was disabused of any inkling that there was some fight over a sweetener. It was Mah NASS uss, not mo LASS uss. And it also had nothing to do with bovines. I never saw a bull, cow, or steer while we were there, niether running nor standing still, was told it was just a name. A statue was also pointed out, and I was told thatthis was “Stonewall” Jackson. I figured it was because the statue was on something like a stone wall.

    And yet, I love history.

    My parents regarded me as a very odd, unsatisfying, and even alarming and disturbing child. She echos these sentiments every time I see her.

  11. Sarge, your mind makes some interesting connections. Oddly, I spent my childhood doing geology trips and yet became an historian. I’m odd, though I think my parents approve.

  12. Mark 16: 16 He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned.


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