Although we wrote about Abraham Lincoln and the birds on the 200th Anniversary of his birth, we did not forget that the same day was also the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. If Lincoln read The Origin of Species the fact is not recorded in his Collected Works nor is Charles Darwin ever referred to by name. In fact, the word “evolution” appears only once, referring only to the evolution of war in a document that Lincoln may not have written himself. The Origin of Species was published in 1859 – soon after Darwin learned that Alfred Russel Wallace independently had come to the same basic conclusion about the importance of natural selection in the evolution of species – so it is possible that the book came to Lincoln’s attention, but no record exists that we know of. We do know that both men shared a hatred of slavery, although Darwin’s outpaced Lincoln’s.
We’ll write a post about Darwin and the birds soon. Much more can be said about his relationship with birds than Lincoln’s. Darwin will even help us in our defense of the lowly pigeon.
In the meantime, here is Dr. Olivia Judson writing on the occasion of Darwin’s 200th.
We leave you with this thought from Darwin: The difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind.