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Seven Score Years and Ten Ago…

150 years ago today, Abraham Lincoln (centre) delivered a speech at Gettysburg




This remarkable photo is of the hanging of the co -conspirators of John Wilkes Booth in the assassination of US president Abraham Lincoln at the end of the American Civil War, Booth having already been killed in a stake out. The conspiracy was much wider and the plan had been to assassinate Lincoln’s deputy and others, to create chaos in the government. However the other components of the plot didn’t happen as George Atzerodt fled from his assigned duty to shoot vice president Johnson.

July 7, 1865. “Washington, D.C. Hanging hooded bodies of the four conspirators; crowd departing.” Lincoln assassination conspirators Mary Surratt, Lewis Payne, David Herold and George Atzerodt shortly after their execution at Fort McNair. Wet plate glass negative by Alexander Gardner.

And this fascinating clip is from American TV in 1956, where on a quiz show the last surviving witness to Lincoln’s assassination is a guest.

The Aftermath

Just watched Obama’s victory speech made in front of cheering masses in Chicago. Not surprisingly he quoted from Abraham Lincoln, John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King. He spoke about an old woman of 106 who had voted, and the changes that she had witnessed in the USA during that time. Probably the most inspiring political speech to be made in the USA for quite some time despite a rather serious more than victorious tone. I half expected to hear the strains of this old hit from Marvin Gaye as the camera turned on a tearful Jesse Jackson.

John McCain’s concession speech was very gracious and sincere. He expressed his disappointment but congratulated Obama and said ‘he’s my president now , how about you?’ I suppose expecting polite applause. To his obvious discomfort the crowd booed and jeered.

Of course the commentators are sending their mouths and brains (in that order) into overdrive. ‘The Republicans, in the same way that the Conservative Party in Britain did with Margaret Thatcher in the 70’s, now look to Sarah Palin as their hope for the future.’


Charles Darwin


“I have called this principle, by which
each slight variation, if useful, is preserved,
by the term Natural Selection.”

Born on the very same day as Abraham Lincoln 199 years ago was Charles Darwin. Thanks to The Lucid Cafe for the following:

 Charles Robert Darwin was born on February 12, 1809 in Shrewsbury, England. He was the fifth child and second son of Robert Waring Darwin and Susannah Wedgwood. Darwin was the British naturalist who became famous for his theories of evolution and natural selection. Like several scientists before him, Darwin believed all the life on earth evolved (developed gradually) over millions of years from a few common ancestors.

From 1831 to 1836 Darwin served as naturalist aboard the H.M.S. Beagle on a British science expedition around the world. In South America Darwin found fossils of extinct animals that were similar to modern species. On the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean he noticed many variations among plants and animals of the same general type as those in South America. The expedition visited places around the world, and Darwin studied plants and animals everywhere he went, collecting specimens for further study.

Upon his return to London Darwin conducted thorough research of his notes and specimens. Out of this study grew several related theories: one, evolution did occur; two, evolutionary change was gradual, requiring thousands to millions of years; three, the primary mechanism for evolution was a process called natural selection; and four, the millions of species alive today arose from a single original life form through a branching process called “speciation.”

Darwin’s theory of evolutionary selection holds that variation within species occurs randomly and that the survival or extinction of each organism is determined by that organism’s ability to adapt to its environment. He set these theories forth in his book called, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (1859) or “The Origin of Species” for short. After publication of Origin of Species, Darwin continued to write on botany, geology, and zoology until his death in 1882. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.

Darwin’s work had a tremendous impact on religious thought. Many people strongly opposed the idea of evolution because it conflicted with their religious convictions. Darwin avoided talking about the theological and sociological aspects of his work, but other writers used his theories to support their own theories about society. Darwin was a reserved, thorough, hard working scholar who concerned himself with the feelings and emotions not only of his family, but friends and peers as well.

It has been supposed that Darwin renounced evolution on his deathbed. Shortly after his death, temperance campaigner and evangelist Lady Elizabeth Hope claimed she visited Darwin at his deathbed, and witnessed the renunciation. Her story was printed in a Boston newspaper and subsequently spread. Lady Hope’s story was refuted by Darwin’s daughter Henrietta who stated, “I was present at his deathbed … He never recanted any of his scientific views, either then or earlier.”

Footnote: “The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma.” – Abraham Lincoln, born on the same day as Darwin.

Comedy Gold – Bob Newhart speaks to Abraham Lincoln


The only confirmed photo of Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg (seated), taken about noon on November 19th 1863 just after Lincoln arrived and some three hours before he spoke. To Lincoln’s right is his bodyguard, Ward Hill Lamon.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the birthday of one of the USA’s greatest presidents Abraham Lincoln in Hodgenville Kentucky in 1809. He was famous as the president who was on the victors’ side in the American civil war and also the one who presided over the abolition of slavery. On a visit to Washington DC some years ago I stood at the Lincoln Memorial (every deceased US president has a memorial in WDC) on the very spot where Martin Luther King made his “I have a dream” speech. It was an awe insipring moment to almost feel the presence of these two great men.

A couple of days ago I posted a monologue by Bob Newhart. Here he is as a nineteenth century press agent in an imaginary telephone conversation with Abraham Lincoln on the eve of the Gettysburg address. “You changed four score and seven to 87? – Abe that’s something like Marc Anthony saying “Friends, Romans, Countrymen I got something I wanna to tell ya” – priceless.