News & Politics

Abraham Lincoln Gets Screwed on His Birthday


Today is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, which used to be a big deal. But since George Washington’s birthday (February 22) was made a floating Monday holiday in 1971, Lincoln’s birthday has gotten sort of smushed into it.

The holiday is still officially Washington’s Birthday, known as President’s Day (or Presidents Day) for advertising circular purposes. Lincoln is often prominently featured in these, but the trend has been toward celebrating all the Presidents, which we cannot believe pleases the shade of either legend (though it gave Springfield Elementary’s P-Day pageant a great hook).

Honest Abe is still a big deal in Illinois and Missouri, and some states observe his birthday separately, but as a mere adjunct object of the national celebration he’s still getting rooked. Even the traditional blood-and-thunder how-dare-they editorials, like this one in U.S. News and World Report, tend to focus on the raw deal given to Washington.

Now, another Lincoln indignity: Today the Times reports that the Lincoln Building — the one near Grand Central where you may have wound up in when you got lost — has changed its name to One Grand Central Place, and removed all vestiges of Lincoln, including a model of Daniel Chester French’s “Seated Lincoln” statue.

The property owner argues that no slight is intended; “the building was not actually named after Mr. Lincoln,” he explains, “it was named after the Lincoln Storage Company.”

At least the Times finds one outraged Lincoln scholar to speak up. “If this landlord took over the Lincoln Memorial,” says Harold Holzer, “would he rename it ‘The Temple on the Mall’?”

There’s one place where Lincoln’s Birthday will always be noted: rightwing nuthatch Free Republic, where, as is traditional, the posters rise to denounce the 16th President (“Any enemy of the Constitution,” “Our country’s worst president,” “Lincoln was more a dictator than a president,” etc).



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