A Happy Birthday to Two Very Special Bearded Men

Today, two men who helped shape the world celebrate their birthdays–posthumously. On February 12, 1809, both Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln arrived into the world, and both went on to change history.

Abraham_Lincoln_standing_portrait_1863.jpgAbraham Lincoln would become the President of the United States of America in 1861, four years before his assassination at the hands of Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth. He presided over the Civil War that split the fledgling nation between North and South, issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, outlawing the social/cultural/economic/legal –geographic– institution of slavery with the passage of the 13th Amendment, delivering the Gettysburg Address, and ultimately preserving the Union. He was also the first president to sport a beard, and what a beard it was.

Perhaps no other figure in U.S. history has been celebrated or elevated to a higher status than Lincoln, but much about his true intentions and personal life has remained shrouded behind a veil of adoration. This month, PBS airs a new documentary hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. of Harvard University, titled “Looking for Lincoln.” In it, Gates explores the true intentions and motivations behind Lincoln and his presidency.

Also, check out these cool interactive maps on the PBS website that showcase locations of Lincoln statues, historical sites and cities/counties named after the former President.

Charles_Darwin_by_Julia_Margaret_Cameron.jpgCharles Darwin is one of the most well known and celebrated scientists in history. It was whilst sailing around the world aboard the H.M.S. Beagle that Darwin first began to formulate his theory of natural selection, which stipulates that “only the strong survive”… and then mate to pass their “strong” genes on to their offspring. In this manner, natural selection allows species to adapt to the changing conditions of local environments.

Geographically, the implications of natural selection are enormous–as the theory essentially states that your environment (i.e. where you are) plays a huge role in how your species adapts and evolves. Roughly twenty years later, Darwin released his compiled thoughts and theories in the book titled On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. The book was received well by most, but not religious leaders. Despite the criticism, natural selection became the foundation for the theory of evolution, which revolutionized the world.

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