On February 13, 1809 – exactly 202 years ago – two male infants were spending their first full day of life outside the womb. One was undoubtedly in the care of his nurse in the pleasant English village of Shrewsbury, Shropshire, the other of his mother in a primitive backwoods cottage in rural Kentucky. The first was Charles Robert Darwin. The second was Abraham Lincoln. Who could have known on that day two centuries and more ago how much each of those infants would bequeath to the human race? Of Darwin, perhaps, more might have been expected than of Lincoln, due to the circumstances of their births – due also, as time went on, to their divergent opportunities. Darwin was university-educated; Lincoln was an autodidact. The former surely knew of and read about the latter; it is doubtful that Lincoln had either the time or the opportunity to read The Origin of Species published as it was a year before his election as President of the United States and as the days, weeks and months of his first term were overborne with crises of secession, war and political backbiting.

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