Happy Birthday, Mr. President! Honest Abe and the Garden State

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February 12th was the official 200th celebration of Abraham Lincoln's birthday, and, on this, PRESIDENT'S DAY, we take a look at the ways in which Honest Abe and the Garden State intersected in his lifetime. Although the lanky, big-hearted senator from Illinois turned Great Emancipator never lived here, he had a relationship with the state that took many forms. Add your own, if you're a history buff with secrets to tell!

  • Lincoln's great-great-grandparents lived in Monmouth County and his great-great-aunt is buried in Upper Freehold Township, under a stone marked: "Little Deborah, 3 years, 4 months, May 15, 1720."
  • A former U.S. senator from New Jersey, William Dayton, defeated Lincoln for the 1856 vice- presidential nomination and ran against Lincoln for the 1860 presidential nomination. Gen. George McClellan--from the Army of the Potomac--moved to West Orange in defeat after Lincoln fired him in 1862 and ran against Lincoln in 1864.
  • Mary Lincoln took to the waters at Long Branch in 1861 and 1863, which she felt had helped her immensely, as she searched for a respite from her depression.
  • Princeton University, then known as the College of New Jersey, awarded Lincoln an honorary degree in 1864--it was sent instead through the U.S. Mail.
  • Former New Jersey governor William Newell was appointed by Lincoln to direct the U.S. Life-Saving Service, which in 1915 was renamed the U.S. Coast Guard.
  • Under the category of WHAT WERE WE THINKING: New Jersey denounced the Emancipation Proclamation, lobbied against the war, and was the only Northern state that failed to ratify the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery, in 1865, ratifying it on a second pass in 1866. New Jersey is the only Northern state Lincoln lost in both presidential elections.
  • A  statue of Abraham Lincoln was erected in front of the old Essex County Courthouse in Newark--the sculptor was none other than Gutzon Borglum, who carved the famous faces of Mount Rushmore.

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