You know how we adore history’s mysteries around here, and new research shows that Honest Abe was the proto-Zuckerberg of the 19th century, even conceiving of Pages and Friends! Head over to Nate St. Pierre’s blog for all the fascinating detail about our 16th president’s social media prescience, discovered while investigating also-intriguing evidence of a relationship between him and consummate showman P.T. Barnum. But here’s a nibble about Abe’s entrepreneurial notion—submitted to the U.S. Patent Office and denied (boo, h8ers)—that each town could have its own Gazette full of Personal Pages:
The whole Springfield Gazette was one sheet of paper, and it was all about Lincoln . . . The first column underneath his picture contains a bunch of short blurbs about what’s going on in his life at the moment—work he recently did, some books the family bought, and the new games his boys made up. In the next three columns he shares a quote he likes, two poems, and a short story about the Pilgrim Fathers. I don’t know where he got them, but they’re obviously copied from somewhere. In the last three columns he tells the story of his day at the circus and tiny little story about his current life on the prairie . . .
Lincoln was requesting a patent for “The Gazette,” a system to “keep People aware of Others in the Town.” He laid out a plan where every town would have its own Gazette, named after the town itself. He listed the Springfield Gazette as his Visual Appendix, an example of the system he was talking about. Lincoln was proposing that each town build a centrally located collection of documents where “every Man may have his own page, where he might discuss his Family, his Work, and his Various Endeavors.”
Furthermore, Lincoln devised how Friending would operate under his system—making the comparison between The Gazette and Facebook even more provocative—but you’ll have to go over to Nate’s to read about that. And while you’re there, congratulate him and Matt of the Lincoln Museum on their jaw-droppingly nifty bit of original historic detection! Abraham Lincoln, not only as brilliantly sharp as a newly honed axe, but way ahead of his time.