Darwin on Lincoln and Vice Versa
Because Darwin and Lincoln are forever paired, thanks to their shared birthdate 200 years ago and the profound and lasting (but separate) influence of their ideas and actions, as Adam Gopnik explains, a question arises: What did they think of each other?
In today’s hyper-mediated, celebrity-saturated global village the world’s leading biologist and the leader of the free world might be expected to meet at, say, the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland (though we’re not aware that Lincoln or Darwin skied), at a climate-policy summit or over pints at Bono’s.
But Darwin and Lincoln did not cross paths. And though a perusal of reliable sources suggests that the two did not mention each other by name in writing, there’s evidence they were at least aware of one another’s efforts.
Darwin, a staunch abolitionist, as our Times of London, whose correspondent in the States was not sufficiently against slavery, Darwin wrote, and covered the war “detestably.”
Asa Gray between 1862 and 1865 referring to the Civil War, slavery or the “president.” Darwin was not forthcoming about Lincoln and appeared to grow more pessimistic about the war as the years went on.