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Today is the bicentennial of the birth of both Charles Darwin, ignored by the NY Daily News, and Abraham Lincoln, ignored by the NY Times. Yesterday was the bicentennial of Robert Fulton's patent of the steamboat.

Two hundred years ago today, two women in very different circumstances gave birth. That is always the case as women give birth every day and have for millions of years. However, these two women gave birth to children who would grow up to change the World profoundly. Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln.

Darwin was born rich. His father was a doctor and his mother was the daughter of crockery mogal Josiah Wedgewood. He went to a fancy boarding school and then to University, where he studied medicine and found himself before getting a job as a naturalist aboard the HMS Beagle.

Lincoln was born poor. His father was nobody and his mother was the distaff offspring of a Virginia Plantation owner and a white servant. He spend a few months going to a one-room rudimentary schoolhouse, and most of the rest of that time working for his father and trying to educate himself and get out of a grinding rural poverty none of us here in 21st Century America can actually imagine. After a series of disappointing career moves, he managed to get himself elected to the Illinois state legislature and started on the road to becoming a lawyer.

By 1859, when both turned fifty, they were famous. A year later, they were controversial, in fact, the most controversial men of their time. thus they remain.

Darwin didn't want to be controversial, but when he received that famous paper by Alfred Wallace "scooping" his privately held feelings and theories, he decided to take the bull by the horns and become the human face of science, to become the hero and villain of biology forever. Lincoln, on the other hand, wanted to be controversial, but not as much as, say, John Brown, who's death has it's sesiquicentennial this December. That a corporate lawyer and one-term former Congressman could become president of the United States with such credentials is impossible to conceive today. Yet there you are.

Marxism states that individuals don't count in history. They do, and these two men prove it.

Originally posted to notwisconsin on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 07:40 AM PST.

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