Today is the 206th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, our 16th and perhaps most well known President. And as usual, I’m chasing Abraham Lincoln.
Those who know me already understand that though my career has been in science, I’ve continued to research Abraham Lincoln independently. It began for some unremembered reason when I was young, and has continued throughout my life. Seems I’m always chasing Lincoln somewhere, and I admit having a few odd Lincoln collectibles around the house/storage. One of my prize possessions is the bust that serves as today’s photo.
It seems Lincoln has come into vogue again. A ton of special exhibits and events have been going on since his 200th birthday in 2009 and have continued over the last four years as we celebrate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. The presence of a fellow Illinoisian in the White House also sparked a great deal of interest. Besides the obvious connections, it helped that President Obama himself has a fascination with Lincoln, even to the point of reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book Team of Rivals on the campaign trail (at 850 pages, not a minor effort!) and using Lincoln’s own bible to take the oath of office.
I, too, read Team of Rivals during the bicentennial year of his birth, and like many of my nearly 1000 books on Lincoln, it’s a signed first edition. Ironically, I had been waiting for the years leading up to the bicentennial so I could help celebrate Lincoln’s birth, but then found myself relocated to a life in Brussels, Belgium during that time and missed most of the special events. Since my return to the states, however, I’ve become even more active in Lincoln-related events, joining the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia (LGDC) and this past year becoming Vice President of Outreach and Education.
In fact, LGDC will celebrate Lincoln’s birthday tonight with dinner and a lecture by acclaimed author Joseph Fornieri.
So while I’ve been chasing Lincoln most of my life, I’m very glad that so many others have finally discovered him. He is even much more fascinating – and complex – than most people realize.
Happy birthday, Mr. President, Abraham Lincoln!
David J. Kent is a lifelong Lincolnophile and is currently working on a book about Abraham Lincoln’s interest in science and technology. He is also the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and an ebook Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time. His next book is about Thomas Edison.