At political blog CrashBangWallace, the answer is “quite a long way”. He writes that the great events of history are within touching distance.
In one of these pleasingly highbrow moments which proves that the internet is not just about videos of cats and moon-walking budgies, a clip has gone viral on Twitter today showing a 1956 TV appearance of the last surviving eye witness of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination: <video>
By that time the man in question was 96, an impressive achievement for a lifelong pipesmoker born in the mid-19th Century.
The video itself is an interesting historical curio, but the message it carries is even more interesting. We tend to think of history as being distant – particularly that history which is not recorded in colour or even in film or sound. In reality, though, it’s remarkably close.
I’m told that as a small child I met a lady in her 90s who had when a small child herself met someone whose father fought at the Battle of Waterloo. That’s three degrees of separation between me in the 21st century and a British soldier in 1815. Similarly there must be quite a number of people still living who met the gentleman in the Lincoln video.
Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, which is now 146 years ago.
It makes you think, doesn’t it?