Monday, February 20, 2006
"At this time, the hogs of the region ran wild, as they do now in portions of the border states. Some of them were savage, and all, after the manner of swine, were difficult to manage...All the ordinary resources were exhausted in the attempts to get them on board. There was but one alternative, and this Abraham adopted. He actually carried them on board, one by one. His long arms and great strength enabled him to grasp them as in a vise, and to transfer them rapidly one by one from the shore to boat."It's the early 1800s, and the "Abraham" in question is Abraham Lincoln, whose superior hog-handling skills are described at length in J.B. McClure's Anecdotes of Abraham Lincoln and Lincoln's Stories, one of the many public domain books you can browse using Google Book Search.
Why are we paging through presidential history? Today is Presidents Day -- or, to be more accurate, Washington's Birthday. What we now call Presidents Day was first celebrated on February 22, 1796, commemorating George Washington's birth in 1732. But according the calendar that was in use when Washington was born, his birthday was on the 11th, not the 22nd. When he was a young man of 20, Great Britain and her colonies adopted the modern Gregorian calendar, skipping 11 days and making January, not March, the first month of the year.
That's right – over the course of Washington's life, the times quite literally changed. And to make things even more complicated, in 1968 Congress passed a law making the third Monday in February a holiday commemorating Washington's Birthday, regardless of the date. Since then, historically minded sorts have suggested it be called "Presidents Day" to account for Lincoln's February 12 birthday too; today many people associate the third Monday in February with both Washington and Lincoln.
What hasn't changed, of course, is our fascination with the presidency. So on this Presidents Day we dug up a few gems from the "West Wing" of the Google Books Library Project. Enjoy.
The Washington Yearbook (Compiled by William Rice,1908)
The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Edited by H.A. Washington, 1859)
The Rough Riders (Theodore Roosevelt, 1899)
Biography of Andrew Jackson (Phlio A. Goodwin, Esq., 1832)
The Writings of James Monroe (Edited by Stanislaus Murray Hamilton, 1898)
Update: Due to copyright regulations in your jurisdiction, if you live outside of the U.S. you may not be able to see the Full Book View for some of the titles above.