Today is the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. Obama’s favorite historical President is often noted as being from the same state as the new Commander-in-Chief who’s so often compared to him, and indeed Lincoln spent most his formative years in Illinois. He was however born in Hardin County, KY, about an hour due South of our own Louisville production facility.
The comparisons of Lincoln and Obama have been going on since long before Obama was sworn in on Lincoln’s Bible, with multiple sources (other than the above WWLD T-shirt) wondering what Lincoln would do in Obama’s shoes. A simple Google Search yields over 30 million results, and our own Marketplace has a variety of Obama-Lincoln merchandise. Indeed, Lincoln is very popular with T-shirt designers; we have more Lincoln T-shirts than there are about Reagan, any Roosevelts or even John F. Kennedy.
Which is to say that, from our end of things, the similarities between Obama and Lincoln are certainly there in the iconic imagery and inspiration to our design Community.
There are, of course, other similarities between the two leaders above and beyond being tall, dignified men endowed with an impressive set of ears. Like Obama, Lincoln won the Presidency in a time of great uncertainty. With the nation on the brink of civil war and with restoring the Union as his primary concern, Lincoln’s Inaugural address – like Obama’s – was paramount in setting the tone for his leadership. Like Obama, Lincoln was known for writing his own speeches and delivering them with eloquence and confidence. Like Obama, Lincoln’s Inaugural address focused on restoring unity to the nation by working together – though the tone of Lincoln’s first draft wasn’t quite so conciliatory, and was in fact toned down by his one-time rival but valued cabinet member William Seward.
Additional parallels include both men choosing an advisory team full of superbly qualified and competitive people who may or may not agree with the President (both Hillary Clinton and Seward hail from New York government, too), and who made no secret of wanting the Oval Office for themselves. Both Presidents saw a value in big government, both came to the Office as fresher faces to politics than some of their opponents, and both paid great tribute and attention to our founding principles of fairness and equality for all American citizens, without exception.
And then, of course, there’s the similarities that we find as told by the T-shirts in our system. Here’s a few worth noting:
1) Both men look good on a penny
2) Both are worthy of being somebody’s homeboy.
3) Both have inspired some interesting propaganda art.
One major difference between the two men is, of course, party: Lincoln was originally a member of the Whig party, and then became the first Republican to win the Presidency.
Interest in Lincoln has increased due to Obama’s own interest in him and the parallels that have been drawn between the two, but Lincoln was an American icon (and had a whole lot of T-shirts about him) long before Barack Obama had his first thong designed.
And so today we wish Abe Lincoln a happy 200th birthday, and pay tribute to him with one of his own quotes: “And in the end it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
Happy birthday, Abe.