Sunday, February 12, 2012

Learn Our History Today: February 12

Learn Our History Today:  On February 12, 1809, Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States is born in Hodgenville, Kentucky.  It’s without question that Lincoln is one of our nation’s most admired presidents.  He is known as The Great Emancipator for his signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.  The Emancipation Proclamation was signed on January 1, 1863, proclaiming the freedom of the 3.1 million slaves throughout the 10 states of the rebellion. 

Lincoln had a quirky, self-deprecating sense of humor, which is believed he used to mask bouts of depression.  He often made cracks about his looks; for example, when one of his opponents in the Senate race of 1858 called him “two-faced,” Lincoln responded, “If I had another face, do you think I would wear this one?”  Standing 6’ 4”, he was the tallest president.

Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865, which happened to be Good Friday.  John Wilkes Booth was a stage actor and a Confederate.  Lincoln’s assassination was planned as part of a larger conspiracy to help the Confederacy’s cause.  Booth’s co-conspirators, Lewis Powell and David Herold, were assigned to kill Secretary of State William H. Seward, while a third co-consiprator named George Atzerodt was assigned to kill Lincoln’s VP, Andrew Johnson.  Their thinking was that, by eliminating the top three of the Federal government, they would cause chaos throughout the government, thereby giving an advantage to the Confederacy.  While Booth successfully killed Lincoln at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C., during the play, Our American Cousin, his co-conspirators failed.  Seward was wounded, but Atzerodt lost his nerve to kill Johnson and fled D.C.

Also on this day in 1789, Patriot Ethan Allen passed away as the result of a stroke.  He was 52 when he died.  You may recall from an earlier post that Ethan Allen is known for being the leader of the Green Mountain Boys, a group which took the British fort at Ticonderoga along with Benedict Arnold in May, 1775. 

While Benedict Arnold is probably the first name that comes to your mind when you hear the word “treason,” Allen, too, was charged with treason for attempting to negotiate terms with the British that would allow the territory of Vermont to rejoin the British empire in the early 1780s after New York rejected it as one of the United States.  

You can read more about Ethan Allen here:

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