Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, was born February 12, 1809 and was the serving President of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. Lincoln successfully led the United States through its greatest constitutional, military, and moral crisis – The American Civil War – preserving the Union. Reared in a poor family on the western frontier, Lincoln was mostly self-educated, and became a country lawyer, a Whig Party leader, Illinois state legislator during the 1830s, and a one-term member of the United States House of Representatives during the 1840s.

After a series of debates in 1858 that gave national visibility to his opposition to the expansion of slavery, Lincoln lost a Senate race to his arch-rival,Stephen A. Douglas. Lincoln, a moderate from a swing state, secured the Republican Party presidential nomination in 1860. With almost no support in the South, Lincoln swept the North and was elected president in 1860. His election was the signal for seven southern slave states to declare their secession from the Union and form the Confederacy. The departure of the Southerners gave Lincoln’s party firm control of Congress, but no formula for compromise or reconciliation was found. Lincoln explained in his second inaugural address: “Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the Nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.”

When the North enthusiastically rallied behind the national flag after the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, Lincoln concentrated on the military and political dimensions of the war effort. His goal was now to reunite the nation. As the South was in a state of insurrection, Lincoln exercised his authority to suspend habeas corpus, arresting and temporarily detaining thousands of suspected secessionists without trial. Lincoln averted British recognition of the Confederacy by skillfully handling the Trent affair in late 1861. His efforts toward the abolition of slavery include issuing his Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, encouraging the border states to outlaw slavery (mostly as a war policy), but did nothing to help push through Congress the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which finally freed all the slaves nationwide in December 1865. Lincoln closely supervised the war effort, especially the selection of top generals, including commanding general Ulysses S. Grant. Lincoln brought leaders of the major factions of his party into his cabinet and pressured them to cooperate. Under Lincoln’s leadership, the Union set up a naval blockade that shut down the South’s normal trade, took control of the border slave states at the start of the war, gained control of communications with gunboats on the southern river systems, and tried repeatedly to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond, Virginia. Each time a general failed, Lincoln substituted another until finally Grant succeeded in 1865.

An exceptionally astute politician deeply involved with power issues in each state, Lincoln reached out to War Democrats and managed his own re-election in the 1864 presidential election. As the leader of the moderate faction of the Republican party, Lincoln found his policies and personality were “blasted from all sides”: Radical Republicans demanded harsher treatment of the South, War Democrats desired more compromise, Copperheads despised him, and irreconcilable secessionists plotted his death. Politically, Lincoln fought back with patronage, by pitting his opponents against each other, and by appealing to the American people with his powers of oratory. His Gettysburg Address of 1863 became the most quoted speech in American history. At the close of the war, Lincoln held a moderate view of Reconstruction, seeking to reunite the nation speedily through a policy of generous reconciliation in the face of lingering and bitter divisiveness. Six days after the surrender of Confederate commanding general Robert E. Lee, however, Lincoln was assassinated by actor and Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth. Lincoln’s death was the first assassination of a U.S. president and sent the nation into mourning. Lincoln has been consistently ranked by scholars and the public as one of the three greatest U.S. presidents, the others by scholars being George Washington and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and by the public, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

Charles Darwin

imageEnglish naturalist Charles Robert Darwin, FRS was born in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England on 12 February 1809 at his family home, The Mount. He was the grandson of Erasmus Darwin on his father’s side, and of Josiah Wedgwood on his mother’s side. As an eight-year-old Charles already had a taste for natural history and collecting when he joined the day school run by its preacher in 1817. In 1818 he joined his older brother Erasmus at the Anglican Shrewsbury School as a boarder.Darwin spent the summer of 1825 as an apprentice doctor, helping his father treat the poor of Shropshire, before going to the University of Edinburgh Medical School with his brother Erasmus in October 1825. Darwin joined the Plinian Society, a student natural history group whose debates strayed into radical materialism. He assisted Robert Edmond Grant’s investigations of the anatomy and life cycle of marine invertebrates in the Firth of Forth, and in 1827 presented at the Plinian his own discovery that black spores found in oyster shells were the eggs of a skate leech. Darwin also learned classification of plants, and assisted with work on the collections of the University Museum, one of the largest museums in Europe at the time. Charles’ father then sent him to Christ’s College, Cambridge, for a Bachelor of Arts degree. His cousin William Darwin Fox introduced him to the popular craze for beetle collecting; Darwin pursued this zealously, getting some of his finds published in Stevens’ Illustrations of British entomology. He became a close friend and follower of botany professor John Stevens Henslow and met other leading naturalists who saw scientific work as religious natural theology. Darwin stayed at Cambridge until June. He studied Paley’s Natural Theology, which explained divine design in nature as God acting through laws of nature. He read John Herschel’s new book, and Alexander von Humboldt’s Personal Narrative of scientific travels. Darwin then planned to visit Tenerife with some classmates after graduation to study natural history in the tropics. In preparation, he joined Adam Sedgwick’s geology course, and travelled with him to map strata in Wales.

imageDarwin was then recommended as a suitable naturalist for a self-funded supernumerary place on HMS Beagle with captain Robert FitzRoy on a five year expedition beginning 1831, to chart the coastline of South America and Darwin spent most of that time on land investigating geology and making natural history collections, while the Beagle surveyed and charted coasts. He kept careful notes of his observations and theoretical speculations, and at intervals during the voyage his specimens were sent to Cambridge together with a journal for his family. He had some expertise in geology, beetle collecting and dissecting marine invertebrates.On their first stop ashore at St. Jago, Darwin found that a white band high in the volcanic rock cliffs included seashells. Fitzroy had given him the first volume of Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology which set out uniformitarian concepts of land slowly rising or falling over immense periods, and Darwin saw things Lyell’s way, theorising and thinking of writing a book on geology. In Brazil Darwin was fascinated by the tropical forest, but detested the sight of slavery. At Punta Alta in Patagonia he discovered fossil bones of huge extinct mammals in cliffs beside modern seashells, indicating recent extinction with no signs of change in climate or catastrophe. He identified the little known Megatherium by a tooth and its association with bony armour which had at first seemed to him like a giant version of the armour on local armadillos. The finds brought great interest when they reached England. On rides into the interior to explore geology and collect more fossils he gained social, political and anthropological insights into both native and colonial people at a time of revolution, and learnt that two types of rhea had separate but overlapping territories. Further south he saw stepped plains of shingle and seashells as raised beaches showing a series of elevations. He read Lyell’s second volume and accepted its view, but his discoveries and theorising challenged Lyell’s ideas of smooth continuity and of extinction of species. Darwin also experienced an earthquake in Chile and saw signs that the land had just been raised, including mussel-beds stranded above high tide. High in the Andes he saw seashells, and several fossil trees that had grown on a sand beach. He theorised that as the land rose, oceanic islands sank, and coral reefs round them grew to form atolls. On the geologically new Galápagos Islands Darwin looked for evidence attaching wildlife to an older “centre of creation”, and found mockingbirds allied to those in Chile but differing from island to island. He heard that slight variations in the shape of tortoise shells showed which island they came from. In Australia the marsupial rat-kangaroo and the platypus seemed really unusual. The Beagle investigated how the atolls of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands had formed, and the survey supported Darwin’s theorising.

When the Beagle reached Falmouth, Cornwall, on 2 October 1836, Darwin was already a celebrity in scientific circles in December 1835 after selected naturalists had been given a pamphlet of his geological letters. hurried to Cambridge to see Henslow, who advised on finding naturalists available to catalogue the collections and agreed to take on the botanical specimens. Darwin’s father organised investments, enabling his son to be a self-funded gentleman scientist, and an excited Darwin went round the London institutions being fêted and seeking Zoologists and otherexperts to describe the huge collections.Darwin was introduced to the anatomist Richard Owen, who had the facilities of the Royal College of Surgeons to work on the fossil bones collected by Darwin. Owen’s surprising results included other gigantic extinct ground sloths as well as the Megatherium, a near complete skeleton of the unknown Scelidotherium and a hippopotamus-sized rodent-like skull named Toxodon resembling a giant capybara. The armour fragments were actually from Glyptodon, a huge armadillo-like creature. Darwin realised that these extinct creatures were related to living species in South America.Darwin wrote his first paper, showing that the South American landmass was slowly rising, and read it to the Geological Society of London and presented his mammal and bird specimens to the Zoological Society. The ornithologist John Gould soon announced that the Galapagos birds that Darwin had thought a mixture of blackbirds, “gros-beaks” and finches, were, in fact, twelve separate species of finches.Darwin was also elected to the Council of the Geological Society

Darwin then moved to London and joined Lyell’s social circle of scientists and experts such as Charles Babbage and writer Harriet Martineau who promoted Malthusianism underlying the controversial Whig Poor Law reforms to stop welfare from causing overpopulation and more poverty. Transmutation was anathema to Anglicans defending social order,but reputable scientists openly discussed the subject and there was wide interest in John Herschel’s letter praising Lyell’s approach as a way to find a natural cause of the origin of new species. Darwin learnt that the Galápagos mockingbirds from different islands were separate species, not just varieties, and what Darwin had thought was a “wren” was also in the finch group. The two rheas were also distinct species. Darwin then started writing about Transmutation of Species, and speculated about the possibility that “one species does change into another” to explain the geographical distribution of living species such as the rheas, and extinct ones such as the strange Macrauchenia which resembled a giant guanaco. Darwin Speculated boutlifespan, reproduction, variations in offspring to alter and adapt to different environments using the Galápagos tortoises, mockingbirds and rheas as examples postulating a single evolutionary tree containing common ancestors. While developing this intensive study of transmutation, Darwin became mired in more work. Still rewriting his Journal, he took on editing and publishing the expert reports on his collections, and with Henslow’s help obtained a Treasury grant of £1,000 to sponsor this multi-volume Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, he also planned books on geology.Sadly all this work took it’s toll on Darwin’s health so he took a break in the countryside in Staffordshire where he met his future wife Emma Wedgewood and also formed a new & important theory” regarding the earthworms role in soil formation which Darwin presented at the Geological Society and Darwin became Secretary of the Geological Society. Despite the grind of writing and editing the Beagle reports, Darwin made remarkable progress on transmutation.

Darwin’s health deteriorated and For the rest of his life, he was repeatedly incapacitated with episodes of stomach pains, vomiting, severe boils, palpitations, trembling and other symptoms, particularly during times of stress. During another break he went “geologising” in Scotland. He visited Glen Roy in glorious weather to see the parallel “roads” cut into the hillsides at three heights. After recuperating he returned to Shrewsbury and Continuing his research in London, Darwin’s wide reading now included the sixth edition of Malthus’s An Essay on the Principle of Population, and asserted that human “population, when unchecked, goes on doubling itself every twenty five years, or increases in a geometrical ratio”, a geometric progression so that population soon exceeds food supply in what is known as a Malthusian catastrophe & compare this to de Candolle’s “warring of the species” of plants and the struggle for existence among wildlife, explaining how numbers of a species kept roughly stable. favourable variations would make organisms better at surviving and passing the variations on to their offspring, & favourable variations would tend to be preserved, and unfavourable ones to be destroyed. The result of this would be the formation of new species.would result in the formation of new species.Darwin saw a similarity between farmers picking the best stock in selective breeding, and a Malthusian Nature so that “every part of newly acquired structure is fully practical and perfected”. He later called his theory natural selection. On 29 January Darwin and Emma Wedgwood were married at Maer in Shropshire.Darwin’s book The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs on his theory of atoll formation was also published in May 1842 and he then wrote his first draft of his theory of natural selection. Darwin completed his third geological book in 1846. He now renewed a fascination and expertise in marine invertebrates, dating back to his student days classifying the barnacles he had collected on the voyage, enjoying observing beautiful structures and thinking about comparisons with allied structures.

In an attempt to improve his chronic ill health, Darwin visited Malvern spa and benefited from hydrotherapy. After eight years of work on barnacles (Cirripedia), Darwin’s theory helped him to find “homologies” showing that slightly changed body parts served different functions to meet new conditions This earned him the Royal Society’s Royal Medal, and it made his reputation as a biologist & realised that divergence in the character of descendants could be explained by them becoming adapted to diversified places in the economy of nature.By the start of 1856, Darwin was investigating whether eggs and seeds could survive travelacross seawater to spread species across oceans.By the start of 1856, Darwin was investigating whether eggs and seeds could survive travel across seawater to spread species across oceans. Darwin began work on a “big book on species” entitled Natural Selection and also presented a thesis On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection to the Linnean Society. At first There was little immediate attention to this announcement of the theory & Despite suffering from ill health he was getting constant encouragement from his scientific friends. Upon it’s publication On the Origin of Species proved unexpectedly popular,In the book, Darwin set out “one long argument” of detailed observations, inferences and consideration of anticipated objections, and states that many more individuals of each species are born than can possibly survive so there is a recurring struggle for existence, it follows that any being, if it changes in any manner helpful to itself, will have a better chance of surviving, and thus be naturally selected. From the strong principle of inheritance, any selected variety will tend to propagate its new and modified form. He put a strong case for common descent, but avoided the then controversial term “evolution”, The book aroused international interest, although there was less controversy than had greeted the popular Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation,The Church of England’s response was mixed. Darwin’s old Cambridge tutors Sedgwick and Henslow dismissed the ideas, but liberal clergymen interpreted natural selection as an instrument of God’s design.

Though Darwin’s illness kept him away from the public debates, he eagerly scrutinised the scientific response, commenting on press cuttings, reviews, articles, satires and caricatures, and corresponded on it with colleagues worldwide. Darwin had only said “Light will be thrown on the origin of man”. Despite repeated bouts of illness during the last years of his life, Darwin’s work continued. Having published On the Origin of Species as an abstract of his theory, he pressed on with experiments, research, and writing of his “big book”. He covered human descent from earlier animals including evolution of society and of mental abilities, as well as explaining decorative beauty in wildlife and diversifying into innovative plant studies.Enquiries about insect pollination led in 1861 to novel studies of wild orchids, showing adaptation of their flowers to attract specific moths to each species and ensure cross fertilisation. In 1862 Fertilisation of Orchids gave his first detailed demonstration of the power of natural selection to explain complex ecological relationships, making testable predictions. As his health declined, he lay on his sickbed in a room filled with inventive experiments to trace the movements of climbing plants. In 1882 he was diagnosed with what was called “angina pectoris” which then meant coronary thrombosis and disease of the heart. At the time of his death, the physicians diagnosed anginal attacks”, and “heart-failure”.He died at Down House on 19 April 1882. His last words were to his family, telling Emma “I am not the least afraid of death – Remember what a good wife you have been to me – Tell all my children to remember how good they have been to me”, then while she rested, he repeatedly told Henrietta and Francis “It’s almost worth while to be sick to be nursed by you”. He had expected to be buried in St Mary’s churchyard at Downe, but at the request of Darwin’s colleagues, after public and parliamentary petitioning, William Spottiswoode (President of the Royal Society) arranged for Darwin to be buried in Westminster Abbey, close to John Herschel and Isaac Newton.Darwin had convinced most scientists that evolution as descent with modification was correct, and he was regarded as a great scientist who had revolutionised ideas. Though few agreed with his view that “natural selection has been the main but not the exclusive means of modification, he was honoured in June 1909 by more than 400 officials and scientists from across the world who met in Cambridge to commemorate his centenary and the fiftieth anniversary of On the Origin of Species. During this period, which has been called “the eclipse of Darwinism”, scientists proposed various alternative evolutionary mechanisms which proved untenable. The development of the modern evolutionary synthesis from the 1930s to the 1950s, incorporating natural selection with population genetics and Mendelian genetics, brought broad scientific consensus that natural selection was the basic mechanism of evolution.

Ray Manzarek (The Doors)

The_Doors_of_Perception_by_cheapexposureRay Manzarek, American keyboard player with The Doors was born 12th February 1939. The Doors were formed In the summer of 1965, when, after graduating from the UCLA. Morrison and fellow UCLA student Ray Manzarek formed the group during that same Summer of 1965. after meeingt months earlier as fellow cinematography students. Thereafter, drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger auditioned and was then added to the lineup. All three musicians shared a common interest in the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s meditation practices at the time, attending scheduled classes, but Morrison was not involved in this series of classes, claiming later that he “did not meditate”. The Doors took their name from the title of Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception (a reference to the “unlocking” of “doors of perception” through psychedelic drug use). Huxley’s own title was a quotation from William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, in which Blake wrote: “If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”

The Doors achieved national recognition after signing with Elektra Records in 1967. The single “Light My Fire” spent three weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in July/August 1967. Later, The Doors appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, a popular Sunday night variety series that had introduced The Beatles and Elvis Presley to the United States. Ed Sullivan requested two songs from The Doors for the show, “People Are Strange”, and “Light My Fire”. Morrison also began writing during his adolescence. At UCLA he studied the related fields of theater, film, and cinematography.He self-published two separate volumes of his poetry in 1969, entitled The Lords / Notes on Vision and The New Creatures. The Lords consists primarily of brief descriptions of places, people, events and Morrison’s thoughts on cinema., but The New Creatures verses are more poetic in tone.

Steve Hackett(Genesis)

Former Genesis member Steve Hackett was born 12th February 1950. English rock band Genesis were formed in 1967. The band currently consists of its three longest-tenured members – Tony Banks (keyboards) and Mike Rutherford (bass, guitar), who were founder members; and Phil Collins (vocals, drums), who first joined in 1970. Past members Peter Gabriel (vocals, flute), Steve Hackett (guitar) and Anthony Phillips (guitar) also played major roles in the band in its early years. Peter Gabriel left in 1975 to pursue a solo career and Following Gabriel’s departure, Collins became the group’s lead singer, and sang lead vocals, then Hackett left in 1977. eter Gabriel is also celebrating his birthday and was born 13th February 1950

Genesis’s first album was Nursery Cryme was initially regarded by the band and the fans as a pop experiment, referring to then-popular melodic pop. Then, over the course of a year, (beginning with their second album in mid-1970) they quickly evolved into a progressive rock band with the incorporation of complex song structures and elaborate instrumentation. Their concerts became theatrical experiences with innovative stage design, pyrotechnics, extravagant costumes and on-stage stories. This second phase was characterised by lengthy performances such as the 23-minute “Supper’s Ready” and the 1974 concept album, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. In the late ’70s and early ’80s the band’s musical direction changed once again, becoming more pop oriented and commercially accessible. This resulted in their first top 40 single in the US with “Follow You Follow Me”, their first number one album in the United Kingdom, Duke, and their only number one single in the United States, “Invisible Touch”. Genesis are among the top 30 highest-selling recording artists of all time, with approximately 150 million albums sold worldwide haves released many great albums, including INVISIBLE TOUCH, FOXTROT & GENESIS. Genesis were also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010  and their career spanning retrospective R-Kive was released in 2014.

Red Hand Day

Red Hand Day, is an annual commemoration held on February 12 each year, during which pleas are made to political leaders and events are staged around the world to draw attention to the fates of child soldiers, children who are forced to serve as soldiers in wars and armed conflicts. The aim of Red Hand Day is to call for action against this practice, and support for children who are affected by it. Children have been used repeatedly as soldiers in recent years including armed conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, Myanmar, Philippines, Colombia, and Palestine. Estimates on the number of children engaging in armed conflict around the world show no change between 2006 and 2009. Rehabilitation for child-soldiers returned to their communities ranges from inadequate to non-existent.

Red Hand Day was initiated in 2002 when the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict entered into force on February 12, 2002. This protocol was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in May 2000 and currently has signatures from over 100 different states. A number of international organizations are active against the use of children as soldiers. These organizations include, for example, the United Nations Child Fund (UNICEF), Amnesty International, Terre des Hommes or the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The work of these organizations can be summarized by the abbreviation DDR: Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration.