Lincoln, Darwin, and the American political tradition

As Scott reminds us, today is the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. It also happens to be the anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birthday. More remarkably, as Jean Yarbrough points out in Theodore Roosevelt and the American Political Tradition, Lincoln and Darwin were born on the same day — February 12, 1809.

Lincoln was born in a one-room log cabin on the “Sinking Spring Farm” in Hodgenville, Kentucky, USA. Darwin was born into more favorable circumstances at “The Mount,” Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England. (Not being the scholar Scott is, I rely here on Wikipedia).

Darwin didn’t engage in political philosophy, but others did so, famously, in the name of Darwinism. Yarbrough shows the intellectual challenge their efforts have posed to Lincoln’s political philosophy and view of the Constitution, and the impact of that challenge on the American political tradition.

In honor of today’s joint anniversaries, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to resolve to read Theodore Roosevelt and the American Political Tradition.


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