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Lincoln and Darwin
Nature Bulletin No. 141   February 7, 1948
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
William N. Erickson, President
Roberts Mann, Supt. of Conservation

On February 12, 1809, two boys were born, one on each side of the Atlantic Ocean. Neither appeared to be particularly promising in their childhood, youth and early manhood.

Abraham Lincoln, the American, grew up under hardships, heartbreaks, and hazards of frontier life in Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois. Like so many others of his time in an expanding young country, he had a thirst for knowledge and managed to supplement his meager access to books by long, leisurely, deep thoughts of his own as he swung an ax, tramped the hills or plowed a furrow between the stumps. He even had to make his own arithmetic book Charles Darwin, the Englishman, was a poor student, according to the standards of his time, even though he was the son of a doctor and the grandson of another famous doctor. He, too, loved to tramp the hills and was fond of dogs, horses and hunting. He, too, had an inquiring mind and thought his own deep thoughts as he threshed out the why and wherefore of things.

Yet these two boys grew into men who will be remembered and imitated wherever and whenever men seek freedom. The one, as president, led this country with simplicity and deep understanding through a bloody civil war to establish freedom from slavery. The other, by common sense and the careful weighing of evidence, showed that man is a child of nature and lives by nature' s rules. Both were prepared for future greatness by their intimate acquaintance with the out-of- doors. Both were simple kindly men, full of humor. Both hated injustice and cruelty. Both loved the truth above all else and were driven by a desire to improve the welfare and progress of their fellowmen.

Lincoln the statesman set free men's bodies. Darwin the naturalist set free men's minds.

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