This is Abraham Lincoln’s real birthday. Never mind Presidents’ Day, he very much deserves his own. He was born 202 years ago in a log cabin. (Most people in Kentucky lived in log cabins in 1809; his father, Thomas Lincoln, owned not only the cabin but the 600 acre farm around it and another farm as well.)
Here’s a good Lincoln quote for the day:
“Nearly all men can stand adversity – if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
And here, from Roger Norton’s Lincoln website, is the story of his birth, told years later by the midwife who attended Nancy Lincoln:
I was twenty years old, then… It was Saturday afternoon, I remember, when Tom Lincoln sent over and asked me to come, and I got up behind the boy that rode across to fetch me, and I rode across to the cabin that then stood here. It was a short ride, less than a mile. It was winter, but it was mild weather, and I don’t think there was any snow. If there was any then, it wasn’t much, and no snow fell that night.
They were poor folks, but so were most of their neighbors, and they didn’t lack anything they needed. Nancy had a good feather-bed under her; it wasn’t a goose-feather bed, hardly anyone had that kind then, but good hen feathers. And she had blankets enough. There was a little girl there, two years old. Her name was Sarah. She went to sleep before much of anything happened.
Well, there isn’t much that a body can tell about things of that kind. Nancy had about as hard a time as most women, I reckon, easier than some and maybe harder than a few. It all came along kind of slow, but everything was regular and all right. The baby was born just about sunup, on Sunday morning.
Nancy’s two aunts took the baby and washed him and dressed him, and I looked after Nancy. That’s about all there is to tell. I remember it better than I do some cases that came later, because I was young, and hadn’t had so much experience as I had afterward. But I remember it all right well.
Oh, yes, and I remember one other thing. After the baby was born, Tom came and stood there beside the bed and looked down at Nancy, lying there, so pale and so tired, and he stood there with that sort of a hang-dog look that a man has, sort of guilty like, but mighty proud, and he says to me, ‘Are you sure she’s all right, Mis’ Walters’? And Nancy kind of stuck out her hand and reached for his, and said, ‘Yes, Tom, I am all right.’ And then she said, ‘You’re glad it’s a boy, Tom, aren’t you? So am I.’