On this day in 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born. He was born into an American heyday, when the new United States (having fended off the British in the War of 1812) were mushrooming. In 1809, the nation consisted of seventeen states, the westernmost being Ohio, along with a vast territory that pioneers were flooding into, appropriating from natives, and organizing. Lincoln was born to one such pioneer family and grew up in Illinois, which became a state when he was nine.
By the time Lincoln became president, the number of states had doubled. The nation stretched to the Pacific. His milieu was morphing as quickly as he was, a reckless proliferation the politicians could barely control. The gargantuan Lincoln, with his terrible grooming, was a perfect embodiment of this rough hasty time. Continue reading