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Honest Abe turns 200

The 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on Feb. 12 is inspiring many to draw connections between the 16th president and President Barack Obama.

Craig Smith, chair of Cal State Long Beach’s film department and director of the Center for First Amendment Studies, said these two U.S. presidents have faced similar troubles.

Lincoln had pushed the country through the Civil War, and Obama is currently working to solve a national economic crisis turning global. The overlap of Lincoln’s anniversary and Obama’s presidency is “kind of a symbol of what we should be working toward,” Smith said, “preserving democracy … and saving it from its problems.”

This year demonstrates the progress the U.S. has made in history in that Lincoln implemented the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves, in 1863, while today the U.S. has “someone with black blood putting together the United States,” Smith said.

However, he said neither Obama nor Lincoln were “very qualified” to be president due to a lack of political experience.

“Like Barack Obama, Lincoln achieved presidency through eloquency,” he said.

According to Smith, few people may know that Lincoln educated himself through reading rather than formal studies, with the two most important books he read being the King James version of the Bible, and the works of Shakespeare. His mother died when he was 2 years old, and his father was busy working on a farm to provide for his family.

“He was very much on his own,” Smith said.

According to an article in USA Today, Lincoln is the subject of approximately 16,000 books, third to Jesus and Shakespeare.

Today is also the 200th anniversary of the birthday of Charles Darwin, the naturalist who created the heavily debated theory of natural selection.

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