Abe, Civil War, Baseball

FEBRUARY 12TH | UNITED STATES OF AMERICA • On his 208th birthday, let’s talk Abraham Lincoln and baseball.

“Abraham Lincoln’s rise to political prominence… occurred during the years when [base-ball] was achieving increasing popularity in all regions.”

There are those who believe the Civil War, of which President Lincoln was the Commander-in-Chief of the Union Army, helped spread the game of baseball because it served to bring men from all over the country together and, in their leisure, took up the game.

Others, such as Patricia Millen, author of From Pastime to Passion, say the war more likely served to slow down the spread of the game, which had already become quite popular in the Northeast in the decades before the war, and spread like wildfire after the war ended.

According to George B. Kirsch, author of Baseball in Blue and Gray,
“Abraham Lincoln’s rise to political prominence… occurred during the years when the game was achieving increasing popularity in all regions. The earliest association between Lincoln and baseball appeared in a Currier & Ives political cartoon published in November 1860, shortly after Lincoln defeated three rivals to claim the presidency.

In the cartoon, each has a bat in his hands. Lincoln also has the ball and is saying, “Gentleman, if ever you should take a hand in another match at this game, remember that you must have a good bat to strike a fair ball and make a clean score and a home run.”

Additional reading:

Baseball and American Culture: Across the Diamond, by Edward J. Rielly

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