Happy Birthday Honest Abe!

It’s birthday week here at the Historic America Journal - but not for me and Rachel. Instead, we’re looking to honor a trio of historic Americans with February birthdays. We begin the week with a real “A”-lister.

He doesn’t look a day over 207!

He doesn’t look a day over 207!

Abraham Lincoln (get it? … A-braham is an A -lister! amiright?!) came into the world on February 12th, 1809 in Hogedenville, Kentucky. Yes, he was ACTUALLY born in a log cabin. He’s also known for other exploits like the Emancipation Proclamation and shepherding the nation through a catastrophic Civil War.

For generations, Americans have been making a fuss about Lincoln’s big day. The very first commemoration of Lincoln’s birth was held in Buffalo, New York in 1874. It’s a strangely sweet story.

A local drugstore owner named Julius Francis was besotted with the memory of Lincoln, so he began holding an annual event to honor the Abe’s life & legacy. Francis went to great personal expense; he rented a hall, recruited the aid of speakers & musicians, and charged no admittance fee as he believed Lincoln’s memory was a gift every American should enjoy. He even tried lobbying Congress to create a federal holiday in Lincoln’s honor (you can read all about the story here).

In subsequent years, celebrations of Lincoln’s birth were often paired with commemorations of another February baby - Frederick Douglass. Ultimately these celebrations expanded and metamorphosed into February’s designation as Black History Month. In the 1960s, President’s Day was born - a fusion holiday celebrating the birthdays of both Lincoln & George Washington.

I know what you’re thinking, “How can I honor Abraham Lincoln today, on the 208th anniversary of his birth?” How about going to see his memorial? We’ve got just the tour …


Happy Anniversary Boy Scouts of America - Sorry About the Statue

Happy Anniversary Boy Scouts of America - Sorry About the Statue

A thousand pardons for DC’s Boy Scout Memorial. Ever since it was unveiled on the White House Ellipse in 1964, your memorial has elicited mockery. Why? In truth - it’s odd and vaguely upsetting to look at.

A More Beautiful & Terrible History (Book Review)

A More Beautiful & Terrible History (Book Review)

Professor Jeanne Theoharis is referencing Baldwin’s ‘talk to teachers’ in the title of this necessary and timely book. “A More Beautiful & Terrible History” explores what the author refers to as the “national fable” of the Civil Rights Movement. She offers a fuller, more nuanced understanding that often stands in contrast to the popularized and watered down rendering of the same narrative.

Movie Review: They Shall Not Grow Old

Movie Review: They Shall Not Grow Old

Today is a special video review of Peter Jackson’s groundbreaking WWI documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old. I was fortunate enough to attend a special screening here in DC. Unsurprisingly, I walked away with a multitude of thoughts. Perhaps you’d care to hear them? Spoiler alert: I loved it.