Thursday, November 19, 2015

Throwback Thursday: The Gettysburg Address

Hello, readers!

Today is the 152nd anniversary of the Gettysburg Address! So, the name theme for today is Civil War personalities. Some of these names have risen, fallen, or stood the test of time - and a few names from the 1860's might sound practically modern!

Fun fact: the city itself was named for early settler Samuel Gettys. Would Gettysburg make a cool patriotic name, or is it totally unusable? Tell me in the comments!

Politicians and Generals

Abraham Lincoln
One of the most popular presidents in American history, what is there to say about Abraham Lincoln that hasn't already been said, written, or filmed? He was named after his paternal grandfather, and a few reports mention he didn't like the nickname Abe - though I think it's cute. Abraham means "father of multitudes", and is becoming popular in the US - over 2,000 Abraham's were born last year. Lincoln is even more popular, with more than double the number of Abe's!

Jefferson Finis Davis
President of the Confederacy, he is generally considered a poor leader in the history of the American South. The names Jefferson and Davis aren't too shabby, though - especially as alternatives to the super popular names of past decades, Jeffrey and David. In other historical trivia, he was married to the daughter of President Zachary Taylor, Sarah Taylor. And his second wife's name was Varina, possibly from a name meaning "integrity". 

Ulysses S Grant (Hiram Ulysses Grant)
A great trivia tidbit for Grant is that he went by Ulysses because he was embarrassed by the initials HUG, though I couldn't find a source for that story. He declared that the S in the middle stood for Simpson, his mother's maiden name, but it was never legally his name. History remembers him as an effective general, but a rather ineffective president, so he and Davis have that in common. There were 171 Ulysses' born last year, but Grant's popularity at #155 has made it the favorite of the names.

Robert Edward Lee
Remembered as a strong general and hero of the Confederacy, I feel as though I've come across thousands of Robert Lee's over the years. Lee is currently at #701, and fits in with many popular single-syllable names - Sam, Max, Ray, etc. More historical trivia - his seven children were named George Washington Custis, Mary Custis, William Henry Fitzhugh, Anne Carter, Eleanor Agnes, Robert Edward, and Mildred Childe.

Influential Women

Harriet Tubman (Araminta Ross)
An incredibly influential abolitionist, former slave, and guide through the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman was born Araminta Ross. She took her mother's name, Harriet, in the 1840's as her own. Araminta's meaning is unknown; it seems to be an old English invention. Tubman was called Minty in childhood, an excellent nickname. Other great names abound in her family: her grandmother was Modesty, and her daughter was Gertie.

Sojourner Truth (Isabella Baumfree)
Sojourner Truth was another former slave and abolitionist, as well as a women's rights activist. She changed her name in 1843 during her religious conversion - Sojourner is French and means "to stay awhile". She was an incredible speaker and personality, and her first name would be great for any strong little girl. It's also very unique - less than 200 Sojourner's have made the US list since the name debuted in 1970.

Clara Barton (Clarissa Harlowe Barton)
A nurse during the Civil War and the eventual founder of the American Red Cross, Clara Barton would go on to help set up military hospitals in Europe later on. She was known as the "Angel of the Battlefield". Clarissa (and Clara) means "bright" or "clear", and either are great alternatives to the popular Claire. Harlowe is a relatively recent addition to US name trends: it was used for men a few times in the early 20th century, but has been rising for girls since 2006.

Harriet Elisabeth Beecher Stowe
The author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, the popular book that helped generate a new wave of abolitionist power, Stowe remained a prolific writer throughout her life. The second Harriet on this list, the name means "estate ruler". To parallel Lee's summary, her seven hildren were named: Eliza Taylor, Harriet Beecher, Henry Ellis, Frederick William, Georgiana May, Samuel Charles, and Charles Edward.

That's it for today's history lesson!

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