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Happy Birthday, President Lincoln

February 12th, 2015

lincolnHappy Birthday, President Lincoln

Happy Birthday today to our 16th president!

A Bit of History

He was born in 1809 in the backwoods of Kentucky.  He had very limited access to books, and so he spent a lot of time studying the books he did have, and mastered them.

He served in the Illinois Militia and achieved the rank of Captain during the Black Hawk war.

We know he became a lawyer, but what you don’t know is his first positions were as New Salem’s postmaster and later as county surveyor, all the while reading voraciously. He then decided to become a lawyer and began teaching himself law by reading.

He finally succeeded in getting elected to the Illinois Assembly in 1834 on his second try, and served four terms.

In 1846, Lincoln was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and then the President in 1860 and took office March 4, 1861.

Fun Trivia

(With thanks to this trivia site)

In 1842, Lincoln accepted a challenge to a duel from James Shields, the Democratic State auditor. Shields was furious over a satiric letter in a local paper. Actually, the letter had been written by Lincoln’s fiancee, Mary Todd, but Lincoln willingly took responsibility. Since he was given the choice of weapons, Lincoln, chose broadswords–with his 6’4″ frame and his enormous arms, Lincoln had an considerable advantage over his diminutive opponent when it came to dueling with swords. Shields wisely decided to make up his differences with Lincoln and the scheduled duel failed to take place.

Lincoln was the only President ever to obtain a patent. In 1849 he invented a complicated device for lifting ships over dangerous shoals by means of “buoyant air chambers.” Unfortunately, U.S. Patent No. 6,469 was never put into practical use.

The clutter in Lincoln’s law office was notorious, and a continual source of irritation to his partner, William Herndon. On his desk, Lincoln kept one envelope marked “When you can’t find it anywhere else, look into this.”

After the death of his son Willie, Lincoln was persuaded by his wife to participate in several seances held in the White House. Lincoln was deeply interested in psychic phenomena and wanted to communicate with his dead son. Once the President reported that he had attended a seance in which a piano was raised and moved around the room. It was the professional opinion of the mediums who had worked with him that Lincoln was definitely the possessor of extraordinary psychic powers.

And in addition to that, Lincoln took his dreams seriously. On one occasion he wrote to his wife to be watchful with their son Tad because Lincoln had experienced an “unpleasant” dream. On the day of his assassination, April 14, 1865, he was so troubled by a dream that he actually discussed it at a Cabinet meeting. He told his colleagues that he had seen himself sailing “in an indescribable vessel and moving rapidly toward an indistinct shore.” Even more explicit was a dream that he discussed just a week before he was shot. In his dream, Lincoln awoke, and walked through the silent White House, following the sound of sobbing. When he came to the East Room, he saw a catafalque draped in black. “Who is dead?” Lincoln asked. A military guard replied that it was the President.

Lincoln was the 1st major leader in our history to favor extending the vote to women. In 1836–a full 12 years before the 1st woman’s rights convention had even convened–State legislator Lincoln gave an Illinois paper a statement endorsing “female suffrage.”

When an 1860 campaign document boasted that the self-educated Lincoln spent his spare time reading Plutarch, Honest Abe sat down immediately to validate the claim by reading the Lives for the 1st time.

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