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  • 1900
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Bleeker acknowledged it was possible to overdo a good thing, and then came back at the President with an anecdote of a good priest who converted an Indian from heathenism to Christianity; the only difficulty he had with him was to get him to pray for his enemies. “This Indian had been taught to overcome and destroy all his friends he didn’t like,” said Bleeker, “but the priest told him that while that might be the Indian method, it was not the doctrine of Christianity or the Bible. ‘Saint Paul distinctly says,’ the priest told him, ‘If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink.’

“The Indian shook his head at this, but when the priest added, ‘For in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head,’ Poor Lo was overcome with emotion, fell on his knees, and with outstretched hands and uplifted eyes invoked all sorts of blessings on the heads of all his enemies, supplicating for pleasant hunting-grounds, a large supply of squaws, lots of papooses, and all other Indian comforts.

“Finally the good priest interrupted him (as you did me, Mr. President), exclaiming, ‘Stop, my son! You have discharged your Christian duty, and have done more than enough.’

“‘Oh, no, father,’ replied the Indian; ‘let me pray! I want to burn him down to the stump! “


During the war, one of the Northern Governors, who was able, earnest and untiring in aiding the administration, but always complaining, sent dispatch after dispatch to the War Office, protesting against the methods used in raising troops. After reading all his papers, the President said, in a cheerful and reassuring tone to the Adjutant-General:

“Never mind, never mind; those dispatches don’t mean anything. Just go right ahead. The Governor is like a boy I once saw at a launching. When everything was ready, they picked out a boy and sent him under the ship to knock away the trigger and let her go.

“At the critical moment everything depended on the boy. He had to do the job well by a direct, vigorous blow, and then lie flat and keep still while the boat slid over him.

“The boy did everything right, but he yelled as if he were being murdered from the time he got under the keel until he got out. I thought the hide was all scraped off his back, but he wasn’t hurt at all.

“The master of the yard told me that this boy was always chosen for that job; that he did his work well; that he never had been hurt, but that he always squealed in that way.

“That’s just the way with Governor –. Make up your mind that he is not hurt, and that he is doing the work right, and pay no attention to his squealing. He only wants to make you understand how hard his task is, and that he is on hand performing it.”


Many requests and petitions made to Mr. Lincoln when he was President were ludicrous and trifling, but he always entered into them with that humor-loving spirit that was such a relief from the grave duties of his great office.

Once a party of Southerners called on him in behalf of one Betsy Ann Dougherty. The spokesman, who was an ex-Governor, said:

“Mr. President, Betsy Ann Dougherty is a good woman. She lived in my county and did my washing for a long time. Her husband went off and joined the rebel army, and I wish you would give her a protection paper.” The solemnity of this appeal struck Mr. Lincoln as uncommonly ridiculous.

The two men looked at each other–the Governor desperately earnest, and the President masking his humor behind the gravest exterior. At last Mr. Lincoln asked, with inimitable gravity, “Was Betsy Ann a good washerwoman?” “Oh, yes, sir, she was, indeed.”

“Was your Betsy Ann an obliging woman?” “Yes, she was certainly very kind,” responded the Governor, soberly. “Could she do other things than wash?” continued Mr. Lincoln with the same portentous gravity.

“Oh, yes; she was very kind–very.”

“Where is Betsy Ann?”

“She is now in New York, and wants to come back to Missouri, but she is afraid of banishment.”

“Is anybody meddling with her?”

“No; but she is afraid to come back unless you will give her a protection paper.”

Thereupon Mr. Lincoln wrote on a visiting card the following:

“Let Betsy Ann Dougherty alone as long as she behaves herself.


He handed this card to her advocate, saying, “Give this to Betsy Ann.”

“But, Mr. President, couldn’t you write a few words to the officers that would insure her protection?”

“No,” said Mr. Lincoln, “officers have no time now to read letters. Tell Betsy Ann to put a string in this card and hang it around her neck. When the officers see this, they will keep their hands off your Betsy Ann.”


Captain “Abe” Lincoln and his company (in the Black Hawk War) were without any sort of military knowledge, and both were forced to acquire such knowledge by attempts at drilling. Which was the more awkward, the “squad” or the commander, it would have been difficult to decide.

In one of Lincoln’s earliest military problems was involved the process of getting his company “endwise” through a gate. Finally he shouted, “This company is dismissed for two minutes, when it will fall in again on the other side of the gate!”

Lincoln was one of the first of his company to be arraigned for unmilitary conduct. Contrary to the rules he fired a gun “within the limits,” and had his sword taken from him. The next infringement of rules was by some of the men, who stole a quantity of liquor, drank it, and became unfit for duty, straggling out of the ranks the next day, and not getting together again until late at night.

For allowing this lawlessness the captain was condemned to wear a wooden sword for two days. These were merely interesting but trivial incidents of the campaign. Lincoln was from the very first popular with his men, although one of them told him to “go to the devil.”


Under the caption, “The American Difficulty,” “Punch” printed on May 11th, 1861, the cartoon reproduced here. The following text was placed beneath the illustration: PRESIDENT ABE: “What a nice White House this would be, if it were not for the blacks!” It was the idea in England, and, in fact, in all the countries on the European continent, that the War of the Rebellion was fought to secure the freedom of the negro slaves. Such was not the case. The freedom of the slaves was one of the necessary consequences of the Civil War, but not the cause of that bloody four years’ conflict. The War was the result of the secession of the states of the South from the Union, and President “Abe’s” main aim was to compel the seceding states to resume their places in the Federal Union of states.

The blacks did not bother President “Abe” in the least as he knew he would be enabled to give them their freedom when the proper time came. He had the project of freeing them in his mind long before he issued his Emancipation Proclamation, the delay in promulgating that document being due to the fact that he did not wish to estrange the hundreds of thousands of patriots of the border states who were fighting for the preservation of the Union, and not for the freedom of the negro slaves. President “Abe” had patience, and everything came out all right in the end.


Charles A. Dana, who was Assistant Secretary of War under Mr. Stanton, relates the following: A certain Thompson had been giving the government considerable trouble. Dana received information that Thompson was about to escape to Liverpool.

Calling upon Stanton, Dana was referred to Mr. Lincoln.

“The President was at the White House, business hours were over, Lincoln was washing his hands. ‘Hallo, Dana,’ said he, as I opened the door, ‘what is it now?’ ‘Well, sir,’ I said, ‘here is the Provost Marshal of Portland, who reports that Jacob Thompson is to be in town to-night, and inquires what orders we have to give.’ ‘What does Stanton say?’ he asked. ‘Arrest him,’ I replied. ‘Well,’ he continued, drawling his words, ‘I rather guess not. When you have an elephant on your hands, and he wants to run away, better let him run.'”


The nearest Lincoln ever came to a fight was when he was in the vicinity of the skirmish at Kellogg’s Grove, in the Black Hawk War. The rangers arrived at the spot after the engagement and helped bury the five men who were killed.

Lincoln told Noah Brooks, one of his biographers, that he “remembered just how those men looked as we rode up the little hill where their camp was. The red light of the morning sun was streaming upon them as they lay, heads toward us, on the ground. And every man had a round, red spot on the top of his head about as big as a dollar, where the redskins had taken his scalp. It was frightful, but it was grotesque; and the red sunlight seemed to paint everything all over.”

Lincoln paused, as if recalling the vivid picture, and added, somewhat irrelevantly, “I remember that one man had on buckskin breeches.”


Always indifferent in matters of dress, Lincoln cut but small figure in social circles, even in the earliest days of Illinois. His trousers were too short, his hat too small, and, as a rule, the buttons on the back of his coat were nearer his shoulder blades than his waist.

No man was richer than his fellows, and there was no aristocracy; the women wore linsey-woolsey of home manufacture, and dyed them in accordance with the tastes of the wearers; calico was rarely seen, and a woman wearing a dress of that material was the envy of her sisters.

There being no shoemakers the women wore moccasins, and the men made their own boots. A hunting shirt, leggins made of skins, buckskin breeches, dyed green, constituted an apparel no maiden could withstand.


One man who knew Lincoln at New Salem, says the first time he saw him he was lying on a trundle-bed covered with books and papers and rocking a cradle with his foot.

The whole scene was entirely characteristic–Lincoln reading and studying, and at the same time helping his landlady by quieting her child.

A gentleman who knew Mr. Lincoln well in early manhood says: “Lincoln at this period had nothing but plenty of friends.”

After the customary hand-shaking on one occasion in the White House at Washington several gentlemen came forward and asked the President for his autograph. One of them gave his name as “Cruikshank.” “That reminds me,” said Mr. Lincoln, “of what I used to be called when a young man–‘Long-shanks!'”


Governor Blank went to the War Department one day in a towering rage:

“I suppose you found it necessary to make large concessions to him, as he returned from you perfectly satisfied,” suggested a friend.

“Oh, no,” the President replied, “I did not concede anything. You have heard how that Illinois farmer got rid of a big log that was too big to haul out, too knotty to split, and too wet and soggy to burn.

“‘Well, now,’ said he, in response to the inquiries of his neighbors one Sunday, as to how he got rid of it, ‘well, now, boys, if you won’t divulge the secret, I’ll tell you how I got rid of it–I ploughed around it.’

“Now,” remarked Lincoln, in conclusion, “don’t tell anybody, but that’s the way I got rid of Governor Blank. I ploughed all round him, but it took me three mortal hours to do it, and I was afraid every minute he’d see what I was at.”


During a public “reception,” a farmer from one of the border counties of Virginia told the President that the Union soldiers, in passing his farm, had helped themselves not only to hay, but his horse, and he hoped the President would urge the proper officer to consider his claim immediately.

Mr. Lincoln said that this reminded him of an old acquaintance of his, “Jack” Chase, a lumberman on the Illinois, a steady, sober man, and the best raftsman on the river. It was quite a trick to take the logs over the rapids; but he was skilful with a raft, and always kept her straight in the channel. Finally a steamer was put on, and “Jack” was made captain of her. He always used to take the wheel, going through the rapids. One day when the boat was plunging and wallowing along the boiling current, and “Jack’s” utmost vigilance was being exercised to keep her in the narrow channel, a boy pulled his coat-tail and hailed him with:

“Say, Mister Captain! I wish you would just stop your boat a minute–I’ve lost my apple overboard!”


Mr. Lincoln prepared his first inaugural address in a room over a store in Springfield. His only reference works were Henry Clay’s great compromise speech of 1850, Andrew Jackson’s Proclamation against Nullification, Webster’s great reply to Hayne, and a copy of the Constitution.

When Mr. Lincoln started for Washington, to be inugurated, the inaugural address was placed in a special satchel and guarded with special care. At Harrisburg the satchel was given in charge of Robert T. Lincoln, who accompanied his father. Before the train started from Harrisburg the precious satchel was missing. Robert thought he had given it to a waiter at the hotel, but a long search failed to reveal the missing satchel with its precious document. Lincoln was annoyed, angry, and finally in despair. He felt certain that the address was lost beyond recovery, and, as it only lacked ten days until the inauguration, he had no time to prepare another. He had not even preserved the notes from which the original copy had been written.

Mr. Lincoln went to Ward Lamon, his former law partner, then one of his bodyguards, and informed him of the loss in the following words:

“Lamon, I guess I have lost my certificate of moral character, written by myself. Bob has lost my gripsack containing my inaugural address.” Of course, the misfortune reminded him of a story.

“I feel,” said Mr. Lincoln, “a good deal as the old member of the Methodist Church did when he lost his wife at the camp meeting, and went up to an old elder of the church and asked him if he could tell him whereabouts in h–l his wife was. In fact, I am in a worse fix than my Methodist friend, for if it were only a wife that were missing, mine would be sure to bob up somewhere.”

The clerk at the hotel told Mr. Lincoln that he would probably find his missing satchel in the baggage-room. Arriving there, Mr. Lincoln saw a satchel which he thought was his, and it was passed out to him. His key fitted the lock, but alas! when it was opened the satchel contained only a soiled shirt, some paper collars, a pack of cards and a bottle of whisky. A few minutes later the satchel containing the inaugural address was found among the pile of baggage.

The recovery of the address also reminded Mr. Lincoln of a story, which is thus narrated by Ward Lamon in his “Recollections of Abraham Lincoln”

The loss of the address and the search for it was the subject of a great deal of amusement. Mr. Lincoln said many funny things in connection with the incident. One of them was that he knew a fellow once who had saved up fifteen hundred dollars, and had placed it in a private banking establishment. The bank soon failed, and he afterward received ten per cent of his investment. He then took his one hundred and fifty dollars and deposited it in a savings bank, where he was sure it would be safe. In a short time this bank also failed, and he received at the final settlement ten per cent on the amount deposited. When the fifteen dollars was paid over to him, he held it in his hand and looked at it thoughtfully; then he said, “Now, darn you, I have got you reduced to a portable shape, so I’ll put you in my pocket.” Suiting the action to the word, Mr. Lincoln took his address from the bag and carefully placed it in the inside pocket of his vest, but held on to the satchel with as much interest as if it still contained his “certificate of moral character.”


The great English funny paper, London “Punch,” printed this cartoon on September 27th, 1862. It is intended to convey the idea that Lincoln, having asserted that the war would be over in ninety days, had not redeemed his word: The text under the Cartoon in Punch was:

MR. SOUTH TO MR. NORTH: “Your ‘ninety-day’ promissory note isn’t taken up yet, sirree!”

The tone of the cartoon is decidedly unfriendly. The North finally took up the note, but the South had to pay it. “Punch” was not pleased with the result, but “Mr. North” did not care particularly what this periodical thought about it. The United States, since then, has been prepared to take up all of its obligations when due, but it must be acknowledged that at the time this cartoon was published the outlook was rather dark and gloomy. Lincoln did not despair, however; but although business was in rather bad shape for a time, the financial skies finally cleared, business was resumed at the old stand, and Uncle Sam’s credit is now as good, or better, than other nations’ cash in hand.


Lincoln could not sympathize with those Union generals who were prone to indulge in high-sounding promises, but whose performances did not by any means come up to their predictions as to what they would do if they ever met the enemy face to face. He said one day, just after one of these braggarts had been soundly thrashed by the Confederates:

“These fellows remind me of the fellow who owned a dog which, so he said, just hungered and thirsted to combat and eat up wolves. It was a difficult matter, so the owner declared, to keep that dog from devoting the entire twenty-four hours of each day to the destruction of his enemies. He just ‘hankered’ to get at them.

“One day a party of this dog-owner’s friends thought to have some sport. These friends heartily disliked wolves, and were anxious to see the dog eat up a few thousand. So they organized a hunting party and invited the dog-owner and the dog to go with them. They desired to be personally present when the wolf-killing was in progress.

“It was noticed that the dog-owner was not over-enthusiastic in the matter; he pleaded a ‘business engagement,’ but as he was the most notorious and torpid of the town loafers, and wouldn’t have recognized a ‘business engagement’ had he met it face to face, his excuse was treated with contempt. Therefore he had to go.

“The dog, however, was glad enough to go, and so the party started out. Wolves were in plenty, and soon a pack was discovered, but when the ‘wolf-hound’ saw the ferocious animals he lost heart, and, putting his tail between his legs, endeavored to slink away. At last–after many trials–he was enticed into the small growth of underbrush where the wolves had secreted themselves, and yelps of terror betrayed the fact that the battle was on.

“Away flew the wolves, the dog among them, the hunting party following on horseback. The wolves seemed frightened, and the dog was restored to public favor. It really looked as if he had the savage creatures on the run, as he was fighting heroically when last sighted.

“Wolves and dog soon disappeared, and it was not until the party arrived at a distant farmhouse that news of the combatants was gleaned.

‘Have you seen anything of a wolf-dog and a pack of wolves around here?’ was the question anxiously put to the male occupant of the house, who stood idly leaning upon the gate.

“‘Yep,’ was the short answer.

“‘How were they going?’

“‘Purty fast.’

“‘What was their position when you saw them?’

“‘Well,’ replied the farmer, in a most exasperatingly deliberate way, ‘the dog was a leetle bit ahead.’

“Now, gentlemen,” concluded the President, “that’s the position in which you’ll find most of these bragging generals when they get into a fight with the enemy. That’s why I don’t like military orators.”


When Lincoln was nineteen years of age, he went to work for a Mr. Gentry, and, in company with Gentry’s son, took a flatboat load of provisions to New Orleans. At a plantation six miles below Baton Rouge, while the boat was tied up to the shore in the dead hours of the night, and Abe and Allen were fast asleep in the bed, they were startled by footsteps on board. They knew instantly that it was a gang of negroes come to rob and perhaps murder them. Allen, thinking to frighten the negroes, called out, “Bring guns, Lincoln, and shoot them!” Abe came without the guns, but fell among the negroes with a huge bludgeon and belabored them most cruelly, following them onto the bank. They rushed back to their boat and hastily put out into the stream. It is said that Lincoln received a scar in this tussle which he carried with him to his grave. It was on this trip that he saw the workings of slavery for the first time. The sight of New Orleans was like a wonderful panorama to his eyes, for never before had he seen wealth, beauty, fashion and culture. He returned home with new and larger ideas and stronger opinions of right and justice.


“Every man has his own peculiar and particular way of getting at and doing things,” said President Lincoln one day, “and he is often criticised because that way is not the one adopted by others. The great idea is to accomplish what you set out to do. When a man is successful in whatever he attempts, he has many imitators, and the methods used are not so closely scrutinized, although no man who is of good intent will resort to mean, underhanded, scurvy tricks.

“That reminds me of a fellow out in Illinois, who had better luck in getting prairie chickens than any one in the neighborhood. He had a rusty old gun no other man dared to handle; he never seemed to exert himself, being listless and indifferent when out after game, but he always brought home all the chickens he could carry, while some of the others, with their finely trained dogs and latest improved fowling-pieces, came home alone.

“‘How is it, Jake?’ inquired one sportsman, who, although a good shot, and knew something about hunting, was often unfortunate, ‘that you never come home without a lot of birds?’

“Jake grinned, half closed his eyes, and replied: ‘Oh, I don’t know that there’s anything queer about it. I jes’ go ahead an’ git ’em.’

“‘Yes, I know you do; but how do you do it?’

“‘You’ll tell.’

“‘Honest, Jake, I won’t say a word. Hope to drop dead this minute.’

“‘Never say nothing, if I tell you?’

“‘Cross my heart three times.’

“This reassured Jake, who put his mouth close to the ear of his eager questioner, and said, in a whisper:

“‘All you got to do is jes’ to hide in a fence corner an’ make a noise like a turnip. That’ll bring the chickens every time.'”


When Lincoln was a candidate for re-election to the Illinois Legislature in 1836, a meeting was advertised to be held in the court-house in Springfield, at which candidates of opposing parties were to speak. This gave men of spirit and capacity a fine opportunity to show the stuff of which they were made.

George Forquer was one of the most prominent citizens; he had been a Whig, but became a Democrat–possibly for the reason that by means of the change he secured the position of Government land register, from President Andrew Jackson. He had the largest and finest house in the city, and there was a new and striking appendage to it, called a lightning-rod! The meeting was very large. Seven Whig and seven Democratic candidates spoke.

Lincoln closed the discussion. A Kentuckian (Joshua F. Speed), who had heard Henry Clay and other distinguished Kentucky orators, stood near Lincoln, and stated afterward that he “never heard a more effective speaker; . . . the crowd seemed to be swayed by him as he pleased.” What occurred during the closing portion of this meeting must be given in full, from Judge Arnold’s book:

“Forquer, although not a candidate, asked to be heard for the Democrats, in reply to Lincoln. He was a good speaker, and well known throughout the county. His special task that day was to attack and ridicule the young countryman from Salem.

“Turning to Lincoln, who stood within a few feet of him, he said: ‘This young man must be taken down, and I am truly sorry that the task devolves upon me.’ He then proceeded, in a very overbearing way, and with an assumption of great superiority, to attack Lincoln and his speech. He was fluent and ready with the rough sarcasm of the stump, and he went on to ridicule the person, dress and arguments of Lincoln with so much success that Lincoln’s friends feared that he would be embarrassed and overthrown.”

The Clary’s Grove boys were present, and were restrained with difficulty from “getting up a fight” in behalf of their favorite (Lincoln), they and all his friends feeling that the attack was ungenerous and unmanly.)

“Lincoln, however, stood calm, but his flashing eye and pale cheek indicated his indignation. As soon as Forquer had closed he took the stand, and first answered his opponent’s arguments fully and triumphantly. So impressive were his words and manner that a hearer (Joshua F. Speed) believes that he can remember to this day and repeat some of the expressions.

“Among other things he said: ‘The gentleman commenced his speech by saying that “this young man,” alluding to me, “must be taken down.” I am not so young in years as I am in the tricks and the trades of a politician, but,’ said he, pointing to Forquer, ‘live long or die young, I would rather die now than, like the gentleman, change my politics, and with the change receive an office worth $3,000 a year, and then,’ continued he, ‘feel obliged to erect a lightning-rod over my house, to protect a guilty conscience from an offended God!'”


Jefferson Davis insisted on being recognized by his official title as commander or President in the regular negotiation with the Government. This Mr. Lincoln would not consent to.

Mr. Hunter thereupon referred to the correspondence between King Charles the First and his Parliament as a precedent for a negotiation between a constitutional ruler and rebels. Mr. Lincoln’s face then wore that indescribable expression which generally preceded his hardest hits, and he remarked: “Upon questions of history, I must refer you to Mr. Seward, for he is posted in such things, and I don’t profess to be; but my only distinct recollection of the matter is, that Charles lost his head.”


Lincoln loved anything that savored of wit or humor among the soldiers. He used to relate two stories to show, he said, that neither death nor danger could quench the grim humor of the American soldier:

“A soldier of the Army of the Potomac was being carried to the rear of battle with both legs shot off, who, seeing a pie-woman, called out, ‘Say, old lady, are them pies sewed or pegged?’

“And there was another one of the soldiers at the battle of Chancellorsville, whose regiment, waiting to be called into the fight, was taking coffee. The hero of the story put to his lips a crockery mug which he had carried with care through several campaigns. A stray bullet, just missing the tinker’s head, dashed the mug into fragments and left only the handle on his finger. Turning his head in that direction, he scowled, ‘Johnny, you can’t do that again!'”


Captain T. W. S. Kidd of Springfield was the crier of the court in the days when Mr. Lincoln used to ride the circuit.

“I was younger than he,” says Captain Kidd, “but he had a sort of admiration for me, and never failed to get me into his stories. I was a story-teller myself in those days, and he used to laugh very heartily at some of the stories I told him.

“Now and then he got me into a good deal of trouble. I was a Democrat, and was in politics more or less. A good many of our Democratic voters at that time were Irishmen. They came to Illinois in the days of the old canal, and did their honest share in making that piece of internal improvement an accomplished fact.

“One time Mr. Lincoln told the story of one of those important young fellows–not an Irishman–who lived in every town, and have the cares of state on their shoulders. This young fellow met an Irishman on the street, and called to him, officiously: ‘Oh, Mike, I’m awful glad I met you. We’ve got to do something to wake up the boys. The campaign is coming on, and we’ve got to get out voters. We’ve just had a meeting up here, and we’re going to have the biggest barbecue that ever was heard of in Illinois. We are going to roast two whole oxen, and we’re going to have Douglas and Governor Cass and some one from Kentucky, and all the big Democratic guns, and we’re going to have a great big time.’

“‘By dad, that’s good!’ says the Irishman. ‘The byes need stirrin’ up.’

“‘Yes, and you’re on one of the committees, and you want to hustle around and get them waked up, Mike.’

“‘When is the barbecue to be?’ asked Mike.

“‘Friday, two weeks.’

“‘Friday, is it? Well, I’ll make a nice committeeman, settin’ the barbecue on a day with half of the Dimocratic party of Sangamon county can’t ate a bite of mate. Go on wid ye.’

“Lincoln told that story in one of his political speeches, and when the laugh was over he said: ‘Now, gentlemen, I know that story is true, for Tom Kidd told it to me.’ And then the Democrats would make trouble for me for a week afterward, and I’d have to explain.”


About two years before Lincoln was nominated for the Presidency he went to Bloomington, Illinois, to try a case of some importance. His opponent–who afterward reached a high place in his profession–was a young man of ability, sensible but sensitive, and one to whom the loss of a case was a great blow. He therefore studied hard and made much preparation.

This particular case was submitted to the jury late at night, and, although anticipating a favorable verdict, the young attorney spent a sleepless night in anxiety. Early next morning he learned, to his great chagrin, that he had lost the case.

Lincoln met him at the court-house some time after the jury had come in, and asked him what had become of his case.

With lugubrious countenance and in a melancholy tone the young man replied, “It’s gone to hell.”

“Oh, well,” replied Lincoln, “then you will see it again.”


When arguing a case in court, Mr. Lincoln never used a word which the dullest juryman could not understand. Rarely, if ever, did a Latin term creep into his arguments. A lawyer, quoting a legal maxim one day in court, turned to Lincoln, and said: “That is so, is it not, Mr. Lincoln?”

“If that’s Latin.” Lincoln replied, “you had better call another witness.”


Mr. Carpenter, the artist, relates the following incident: “Some photographers came up to the White House to make some stereoscopic studies for me of the President’s office. They requested a dark closet in which to develop the pictures, and, without a thought that I was infringing upon anybody’s rights, I took them to an unoccupied room of which little ‘Tad’ had taken possession a few days before, and, with the aid of a couple of servants, had fitted up a miniature theater, with stage, curtains, orchestra, stalls, parquette and all. Knowing that the use required would interfere with none of his arrangements, I led the way to this apartment.

“Everything went on well, and one or two pictures had been taken, when suddenly there was an uproar. The operator came back to the office and said that ‘Tad’ had taken great offense at the occupation of his room without his consent, and had locked the door, refusing all admission.

“The chemicals had been taken inside, and there was no way of getting at them, he having carried off the key. In the midst of this conversation ‘Tad’ burst in, in a fearful passion. He laid all the blame upon me–said that I had no right to use his room, and the men should not go in even to get their things. He had locked the door and they should not go there again–‘they had no business in his room!’

“Mr. Lincoln was sitting for a photograph, and was still in the chair. He said, very mildly, ‘Tad, go and unlock the door.’ Tad went off muttering into his mother’s room, refusing to obey. I followed him into the passage, but no coaxing would pacify him. Upon my return to the President, I found him still patiently in the chair, from which he had not risen. He said: ‘Has not the boy opened the door?’ I replied that we could do nothing with him–he had gone off in a great pet. Mr. Lincoln’s lips came together firmly, and then, suddenly rising, he strode across the passage with the air of one bent on punishment, and disappeared in the domestic apartments. Directly he returned with the key to the theater, which he unlocked himself.

“‘Tad,’ said he, half apologetically, ‘is a peculiar child. He was violently excited when I went to him. I said, “Tad, do you know that you are making your father a great deal of trouble?” He burst into tears, instantly giving me up the key.'”


When Lincoln’s attention was called to the fact that, at one time in his boyhood, he had spelled the name of the Deity with a small “g,” he replied:

“That reminds me of a little story. It came about that a lot of Confederate mail was captured by the Union forces, and, while it was not exactly the proper thing to do, some of our soldiers opened several letters written by the Southerners at the front to their people at home.

“In one of these missives the writer, in a postscript, jotted down this assertion

“‘We’ll lick the Yanks termorrer, if goddlemity (God Almighty) spares our lives.’

“That fellow was in earnest, too, as the letter was written the day before the second battle of Manassas.”


“The first time I ever remember seeing ‘Abe’ Lincoln,” is the testimony of one of his neighbors, “was when I was a small boy and had gone with my father to attend some kind of an election. One of the neighbors, James Larkins, was there.

“Larkins was a great hand to brag on anything he owned. This time it was his horse. He stepped up before ‘Abe,’ who was in a crowd, and commenced talking to him, boasting all the while of his animal.

“‘I have got the best horse in the country,’ he shouted to his young listener. ‘I ran him nine miles in exactly three minutes, and he never fetched a long breath.’

“‘I presume,’ said ‘Abe,’ rather dryly, ‘he fetched a good many short ones, though.'”


On May 3rd, 1862, “Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper” printed this cartoon, over the title of “Sandbag Lincoln and the Old Man of the Sea, Secretary of the Navy Welles.” It was intended to demonstrate that the head of the Navy Department was incompetent to manage the affairs of the Navy; also that the Navy was not doing as good work as it might.

When this cartoon was published, the United States Navy had cleared and had under control the Mississippi River as far south as Memphis; had blockaded all the cotton ports of the South; had assisted in the reduction of a number of Confederate forts; had aided Grant at Fort Donelson and the battle of Shiloh; the Monitor had whipped the ironclad terror, Merrimac (the Confederates called her the Virginia); Admiral Farragut’s fleet had compelled the surrender of the city of New Orleans, the great forts which had defended it, and the Federal Government obtained control of the lower Mississippi.

“The Old Man of the Sea” was therefore, not a drag or a weight upon President Lincoln, and the Navy was not so far behind in making a good record as the picture would have the people of the world believe. It was not long after the Monitor’s victory that the United States Navy was the finest that ever plowed the seas. The building of the Monitor also revolutionized naval warfare.


About a week after the Chicago Convention, a gentleman from New York called upon the President, in company with the Assistant Secretary of War, Mr. Dana.

In the course of conversation, the gentleman said: “What do you think, Mr. President, is the reason General McClellan does not reply to the letter from the Chicago Convention?”

“Oh!” replied Mr. Lincoln, with a characteristic twinkle of the eye, “he is intrenching!”


>From the day of his nomination by the Chicago convention, gifts poured in upon Lincoln. Many of these came in the form of wearing apparel. Mr. George Lincoln, of Brooklyn, who brought to Springfield, in January, 1861, a handsome silk hat to the President-elect, the gift of a New York hatter, told some friends that in receiving the hat Lincoln laughed heartily over the gifts of clothing, and remarked to Mrs. Lincoln: “Well, wife, if nothing else comes out of this scrape, we are going to have some new clothes, are we not?”


In speaking of the many mean and petty acts of certain members of Congress, the President, while talking on the subject one day with friends, said:

“I have great sympathy for these men, because of their temper and their weakness; but I am thankful that the good Lord has given to the vicious ox short horns, for if their physical courage were equal to their vicious disposition, some of us in this neck of the woods would get hurt.”


“I was speaking one time to Mr. Lincoln,” said Governor Saunders, of Nebraska, of a little Nebraskan settlement on the Weeping Water, a stream in our State.”

“‘Weeping Water!’ said he.

“Then with a twinkle in his eye, he continued.

“‘I suppose the Indians out there call Minneboohoo, don’t they? They ought to, if Laughing Water is Minnehaha in their language.'”


Peter Cartwright, the famous and eccentric old Methodist preacher, who used to ride a church circuit, as Mr. Lincoln and others did the court circuit, did not like Lincoln very well, probably because Mr. Lincoln was not a member of his flock, and once defeated the preacher for Congress. This was Cartwright’s description of Lincoln: “This Lincoln is a man six feet four inches tall, but so angular that if you should drop a plummet from the center of his head it would cut him three times before it touched his feet.”


A gentleman was relating to the President how a friend of his had been driven away from New Orleans as a Unionist, and how, on his expulsion, when he asked to see the writ by which he was expelled, the deputation which called on him told him the Government would do nothing illegal, and so they had issued no illegal writs, and simply meant to make him go of his own free will.

“Well,” said Mr. Lincoln, “that reminds me of a hotel-keeper down at St. Louis, who boasted that he never had a death in his hotel, for whenever a guest was dying in his house he carried him out to die in the gutter.”


The day following the adjournment of the Baltimore Convention, at which President Lincoln was renominated, various political organizations called to pay their respects to the President. While the Philadelphia delegation was being presented, the chairman of that body, in introducing one of the members, said:

“Mr. President, this is Mr. S., of the second district of our State,–a most active and earnest friend of yours and the cause. He has, among other things, been good enough to paint, and present to our league rooms, a most beautiful portrait of yourself.”

President Lincoln took the gentleman’s hand in his, and shaking it cordially said, with a merry voice, “I presume, sir, in painting your beautiful portrait, you took your idea of me from my principles and not from my person.”


Lincoln was married–he balked at the first date set for the ceremony and did not show up at all–November 4, 1842, under most happy auspices. The officiating clergyman, the Rev. Mr. Dresser, used the Episcopal church service for marriage. Lincoln placed the ring upon the bride’s finger, and said, “With this ring I now thee wed, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow.”

Judge Thomas C. Browne, who was present, exclaimed, “Good gracious, Lincoln! the statute fixes all that!”

“Oh, well,” drawled Lincoln, “I just thought I’d add a little dignity to the statute.”


The joint debates between Lincoln and Douglas were attended by crowds of people, and the arrival of both at the places of speaking were in the nature of a triumphal procession. In these processions there were many banners bearing catchphrases and mottoes expressing the sentiment of the people on the candidates and the issues.

The following were some of the mottoes on the Lincoln banners:

[Westward the star of empire takes its way; The girls link on to Lincoln, their mothers were for Clay.]

[Abe, the Giant-Killer.]

[Edgar County for the Tall Sucker.]

[Free Territories and Free Men,
Free Pulpits and Free Preachers,
Free Press and a Free Pen,
Free Schools and Free Teachers.]


Between the first election and inauguration of Mr. Lincoln the disunion sentiment grew rapidly in the South, and President Buchanan’s failure to stop the open acts of secession grieved Mr. Lincoln sorely. Mr. Lincoln had a long talk with his friend, Judge Gillespie, over the state of affairs. One incident of the conversation is thus narrated by the Judge:

“When I retired, it was the master of the house and chosen ruler of the country who saw me to my room. ‘Joe,’ he said, as he was about to leave me, ‘I am reminded and I suppose you will never forget that trial down in Montgomery county, where the lawyer associated with you gave away the whole case in his opening speech. I saw you signaling to him, but you couldn’t stop him.

“‘Now, that’s just the way with me and Buchanan. He is giving away the case, and I have nothing to say, and can’t stop him. Good-night.'”


Mr. Leonard Volk, the artist, relates that, being in Springfield when Lincoln’s nomination for President was announced, he called upon Mr. Lincoln, whom he found looking smiling and happy. “I exclaimed, ‘I am the first man from Chicago, I believe, who has had the honor of congratulating you on your nomination for President.’ Then those two great hands took both of mine with a grasp never to be forgotten, and while shaking, I said, ‘Now that you will doubtless be the next President of the United States, I want to make a statue of you, and shall try my best to do you justice.’

“Said he, ‘I don’t doubt it, for I have come to the conclusion that you are an honest man,’ and with that greeting, I thought my hands in a fair way of being crushed.

“On the Sunday following, by agreement, I called to make a cast of Mr. Lincoln’s hands. I asked him to hold something in his hands, and told him a stick would do. Thereupon he went to the woodshed, and I heard the saw go, and he soon returned to the dining-room, whittling off the end of a piece of broom handle. I remarked to him that he need not whittle off the edges. ‘Oh, well,’ said he, ‘I thought I would like to have it nice.'”


During Lincoln’s first and only term in Congress–he was elected in 1846–he formed quite a cordial friendship with Stephen A. Douglas, a member of the United States Senate from Illinois, and the beaten one in the contest as to who should secure the hand of Miss Mary Todd. Lincoln was the winner; Douglas afterwards beat him for the United States Senate, but Lincoln went to the White House.

During all of the time that they were rivals in love and in politics they remained the best of friends personally. They were always glad to see each other, and were frequently together. The disparity in their size was always the more noticeable upon such occasions, and they well deserved their nicknames of “Long Abe” and the “Little Giant.” Lincoln was the tallest man in the National House of Representatives, and Douglas the shortest (and perhaps broadest) man the Senate, and when they appeared on the streets together much merriment was created. Lincoln, when joked about the matter, replied, in a very serious tone, “Yes, that’s about the length and breadth of it.”


Lincoln couldn’t sing, and he also lacked the faculty of musical adaptation. He had a liking for certain ballads and songs, and while he memorized and recited their lines, someone else did the singing. Lincoln often recited for the delectation of his friends, the following, the authorship of which is unknown:

The first factional fight in old Ireland, they say, Was all on account of St. Patrick’s birthday; It was somewhere about midnight without any doubt, And certain it is, it made a great rout.

On the eighth day of March, as some people say, St. Patrick at midnight he first saw the day; While others assert ’twas the ninth he was born– ‘Twas all a mistake–between midnight and morn.

Some blamed the baby, some blamed the clock; Some blamed the doctor, some the crowing cock. With all these close questions sure no one could know, Whether the babe was too fast or the clock was too slow.

Some fought for the eighth, for the ninth some would die; He who wouldn’t see right would have a black eye. At length these two factions so positive grew, They each had a birthday, and Pat he had two.

Till Father Mulcahay who showed them their sins, He said none could have two birthdays but as twins. “Now boys, don’t be fighting for the eight or the nine; Don’t quarrel so always, now why not combine.”

Combine eight with nine. It is the mark; Let that be the birthday. Amen! said the clerk. So all got blind drunk, which completed their bliss, And they’ve kept up the practice from that day to this.


Senator John Sherman, of Ohio, introduced his brother, William T. Sherman (then a civilian) to President Lincoln in March, 1861. Sherman had offered his services, but, as in the case of Grant, they had been refused.

After the Senator had transacted his business with the President, he said: “Mr. President, this is my brother, Colonel Sherman, who is just up from Louisiana; he may give you some information you want.”

To this Lincoln replied, as reported by Senator Sherman himself: “Ah! How are they getting along down there?”

Sherman answered: “They think they are getting along swimmingly; they are prepared for war.”

To which Lincoln responded: “Oh, well, I guess we’ll manage to keep the house.”

“Tecump,” whose temper was not the mildest, broke out on “Brother John” as soon as they were out of the White House, cursed the politicians roundly, and wound up with, “You have got things in a h–l of a fix, and you may get out as best you can.”

Sherman was one of the very few generals who gave Lincoln little or no worry.


General Grant told this story about Lincoln some years after the War:

“Just after receiving my commission as lieutenant-general the President called me aside to speak to me privately. After a brief reference to the military situation, he said he thought he could illustrate what he wanted to say by a story. Said he:

“‘At one time there was a great war among the animals, and one side had great difficulty in getting a commander who had sufficient confidence in himself. Finally they found a monkey by the name of Jocko, who said he thought he could command their army if his tail could be made a little longer. So they got more tail and spliced it on to his caudal appendage.

“‘He looked at it admiringly, and then said he thought he ought to have still more tail. This was added, and again he called for more. The splicing process was repeated many times until they had coiled Jocko’s tail around the room, filling all the space.

“‘Still he called for more tail, and, there being no other place to coil it, they began wrapping it around his shoulders. He continued his call for more, and they kept on winding the additional tail around him until its weight broke him down.’

“I saw the point, and, rising from my chair, replied, ‘Mr. President, I will not call for any more assistance unless I find it impossible to do with what I already have.'”


Ward Lamon, Marshal of the District of Columbia during Lincoln’s time in Washington, was a powerful man; his strength was phenomenal, and a blow from his fist was like unto that coming from the business end of a sledge.

Lamon tells this story, the hero of which is not mentioned by name, but in all probability his identity can be guessed:

“On one occasion, when the fears of the loyal element of the city (Washington) were excited to fever-heat, a free fight near the old National Theatre occurred about eleven o’clock one night. An officer, in passing the place, observed what was going on, and seeing the great number of persons engaged, he felt it to be his duty to command the peace.

“The imperative tone of his voice stopped the fighting for a moment, but the leader, a great bully, roughly pushed back the officer and told him to go away or he would whip him. The officer again advanced and said, ‘I arrest you,’ attempting to place his hand on the man’s shoulder, when the bully struck a fearful blow at the officer’s face.

“This was parried, and instantly followed by a blow from the fist of the officer, striking the fellow under the chin and knocking him senseless. Blood issued from his mouth, nose and ears. It was believed that the man’s neck was broken. A surgeon was called, who pronounced the case a critical one, and the wounded man was hurried away on a litter to the hospital.

“There the physicians said there was concussion of the brain, and that the man would die. All the medical skill that the officer could procure was employed in the hope of saving the life of the man. His conscience smote him for having, as he believed, taken the life of a fellow-creature, and he was inconsolable.

“Being on terms of intimacy with the President, about two o’clock that night the officer went to the White House, woke up Mr. Lincoln, and requested him to come into his office, where he told him his story. Mr. Lincoln listened with great interest until the narrative was completed, and then asked a few questions, after which he remarked:

“‘I am sorry you had to kill the man, but these are times of war, and a great many men deserve killing. This one, according to your story, is one of them; so give yourself no uneasiness about the matter. I will stand by you.’

“‘That is not why I came to you. I knew I did my duty, and had no fears of your disapproval of what I did,’ replied the officer; and then he added: ‘Why I came to you was, I felt great grief over the unfortunate affair, and I wanted to talk to you about it.’

“Mr. Lincoln then said, with a smile, placing his hand on the officer’ shoulder: ‘You go home now and get some sleep; but let me give you this piece of advice–hereafter, when you have occasion to strike a man, don’t hit him with your fist; strike him with a club, a crowbar, or with something that won’t kill him.'”


Lincoln could be arbitrary when occasion required. This is the letter he wrote to one of the Department heads:

“You must make a job of it, and provide a place for the bearer of this, Elias Wampole. Make a job of it with the collector and have it done. You can do it for me, and you must.”

There was no delay in taking action in this matter. Mr. Wampole, or “Eli,” as he was thereafter known, “got there.”


Many amusing stories are told of President Lincoln and his gloves. At about the time of his third reception he had on a tight-fitting pair of white kids, which he had with difficulty got on. He saw approaching in the distance an old Illinois friend named Simpson, whom he welcomed with a genuine Sangamon county (Illeenoy) shake, which resulted in bursting his white kid glove, with an audible sound. Then, raising his brawny hand up before him, looking at it with an indescribable expression, he said, while the whole procession was checked, witnessing this scene:

“Well, my old friend, this is a general bustification. You and I were never intended to wear these things. If they were stronger they might do well enough to keep out the cold, but they are a failure to shake hands with between old friends like us. Stand aside, Captain, and I’ll see you shortly.”

Simpson stood aside, and after the unwelcome ceremony was terminated he rejoined his old Illinois friend in familiar intercourse.


H. C. Whitney wrote in 1866: “I was in Washington in the Indian service for a few days before August, 1861, and I merely said to President Lincoln one day: ‘Everything is drifting into the war, and I guess you will have to put me in the army.’

“The President looked up from his work and said, good-humoredly:

‘I’m making generals now; in a few days I will be making quartermasters, and then I’ll fix you.'”


In the “Diary of a Public Man” appears this jocose anecdote:

“Mr. Lincoln walked into the corridor with us; and, as he bade us good-by and thanked Blank for what he had told him, he again brightened up for a moment and asked him in an abrupt kind of way, laying his hand as he spoke with a queer but not uncivil familiarity on his shoulder, ‘You haven’t such a thing as a postmaster in your pocket, have you?’

Blank stared at him in astonishment, and I thought a little in alarm, as if he suspected a sudden attack of insanity; then Mr. Lincoln went on:

‘You see it seems to me kind of unnatural that you shouldn’t have at least a postmaster in your pocket. Everybody I’ve seen for days past has had foreign ministers and collectors, and all kinds, and I thought you couldn’t have got in here without having at least a postmaster get into your pocket!'”


When a surveyor, Mr. Lincoln first platted the town of Petersburg, Ill. Some twenty or thirty years afterward the property-owners along one of the outlying streets had trouble in fixing their boundaries. They consulted the official plat and got no relief. A committee was sent to Springfield to consult the distinguished surveyor, but he failed to recall anything that would give them aid, and could only refer them to the record. The dispute therefore went into the courts. While the trial was pending, an old Irishman named McGuire, who had worked for some farmer during the summer, returned to town for the winter. The case being mentioned in his presence, he promptly said: “I can tell you all about it. I helped carry the chain when Abe Lincoln laid out this town. Over there where they are quarreling about the lines, when he was locating the street, he straightened up from his instrument and said: ‘If I run that street right through, it will cut three or four feet off the end of –‘s house. It’s all he’s got in the world and he never could get another. I reckon it won’t hurt anything out here if I skew the line a little and miss him.”‘

The line was “skewed,” and hence the trouble, and more testimony furnished as to Lincoln’s abounding kindness of heart, that would not willingly harm any human being.


One of the most celebrated courts-martial during the War was that of Franklin W. Smith and his brother, charged with defrauding the government. These men bore a high character for integrity. At this time, however, courts-martial were seldom invoked for any other purpose than to convict the accused, and the Smiths shared the usual fate of persons whose cases were submitted to such arbitrament. They were kept in prison, their papers seized, their business destroyed, and their reputations ruined, all of which was followed by a conviction.

The finding of the court was submitted to the President, who, after a careful investigation, disapproved the judgment, and wrote the following endorsement upon the papers:

“Whereas, Franklin W. Smith had transactions with the Navy Department to the amount of a millon and a quarter of dollars; and:

“Whereas, he had a chance to steal at least a quarter of a million and was only charged with stealing twenty-two hundred dollars, and the question now is about his stealing one hundred, I don’t believe he stole anything at all.

“Therefore, the record and the findings are disapproved, declared null and void, and the defendants are fully discharged.”


President Lincoln, after listening to the arguments and appeals of a committee which called upon him at the White House not long before the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, said:

“I do not want to issue a document that the whole world will see must necessarily be inoperative, like the Pope’s bull against the comet.”


A “high” private of the One Hundred and Fortieth Infantry Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, wounded at Chancellorsville, was taken to Washington. One day, as he was becoming convalescent, a whisper ran down the long row of cots that the President was in the building and would soon pass by. Instantly every boy in blue who was able arose, stood erect, hands to the side, ready to salute his Commanderin-Chief.

The Pennsylvanian stood six feet seven inches in his stockings. Lincoln was six feet four. As the President approached this giant towering above him, he stopped in amazement, and casting his eyes from head to foot and from foot to head, as if contemplating the immense distance from one extremity to the other, he stood for a moment speechless.

At length, extending his hand, he exclaimed, “Hello, comrade, do you know when your feet get cold?”


“Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper” of March 2nd, 1861, two days previous to the inauguration of President-elect Lincoln, contained the caricature reproduced here. It was intended to convey the idea that the National Administration would thereafter depend upon the support of bayonets to uphold it, and the text underneath the picture ran as follows:

OLD ABE: “Oh, it’s all well enough to say that I must support the dignity of my high office by force–but it’s darned uncomfortable sitting, I can tell yer.”

This journal was not entirely friendly to the new Chief Magistrate, but it could not see into the future. Many of the leading publications of the East, among them some of those which condemned slavery and were opposed to secession, did not believe Lincoln was the man for the emergency, but instead of doing what they could do to help him along, they attacked him most viciously. No man, save Washington, was more brutally lied about than Lincoln, but he bore all the slurs and thrusts, not to mention the open, cruel antagonism of those who should have been his warmest friends, with a fortitude and patience few men have ever shown. He was on the right road, and awaited the time when his course should receive the approval it merited.


General James B. Fry told a good one on Secretary of War Stanton, who was worsted in a contention with the President. Several brigadier-generals were to be selected, and Lincoln maintained that “something must be done in the interest of the Dutch.” Many complaints had come from prominent men, born in the Fatherland, but who were fighting for the Union.

“Now, I want Schimmelpfennig given one of those brigadierships.”

Stanton was stubborn and headstrong, as usual, but his manner and tone indicated that the President would have his own way in the end. However, he was not to be beaten without having made a fight.

“But, Mr. President,” insisted the Iron War Secretary, “it may be that this Mr. Schim–what’s-his-name–has no recommendations showing his fitness. Perhaps he can’t speak English.”

“That doesn’t matter a bit, Stanton,” retorted Lincoln, “he may be deaf and dumb for all I know, but whatever language he speaks, if any, we can furnish troops who will understand what he says. That name of his will make up for any differences in religion, politics or understanding, and I’ll take the risk of his coming out all right.”

Then, slamming his great hand upon the Secretary’s desk, he said, “Schim-mel-fen-nig must be appointed.”

And he was, there and then.


“Do you know General A–?” queried the President one day to a friend who had “dropped in” at the White House.

“Certainly; but you are not wasting any time thinking about him, are you?” was the rejoinder.

“You wrong him,” responded the President, “he is a really great man, a philosopher.”

“How do you make that out? He isn’t worth the powder and ball necessary to kill him so I have heard military men say,” the friend remarked.

“He is a mighty thinker,” the President returned, “because he has mastered that ancient and wise admonition, ‘Know thyself;’ he has formed an intimate acquaintance with himself, knows as well for what he is fitted and unfitted as any man living. Without doubt he is a remarkable man. This War has not produced another like him.”

“How is it you are so highly pleased with General A– all at once?”

“For the reason,” replied Mr. Lincoln, with a merry twinkle of the eye, “greatly to my relief, and to the interests of the country, he has resigned. The country should express its gratitude in some substantial way.”


There was no member of the Cabinet from the South when Attorney-General Bates handed in his resignation, and President Lincoln had a great deal of trouble in making a selection. Finally Titian F. Coffey consented to fill the vacant place for a time, and did so until the appointment of Mr. Speed.

In conversation with Mr. Coffey the President quaintly remarked:

“My Cabinet has shrunk up North, and I must find a Southern man. I suppose if the twelve Apostles were to be chosen nowadays, the shrieks of locality would have to be heeded.”


It is not generally known that President Lincoln adopted a suggestion made by Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase in regard to the Emancipation Proclamation, and incorporated it in that famous document.

After the President had read it to the members of the Cabinet he asked if he had omitted anything which should be added or inserted to strengthen it. It will be remembered that the closing paragraph of the Proclamation reads in this way:

“And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice warranted by the Constitution, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God!” President Lincoln’s draft of the paper ended with the word “mankind,” and the words, “and the gracious favor of Almighty God,” were those suggested by Secretary Chase.


It was the President’s overweening desire to accommodate all persons who came to him soliciting favors, but the opportunity was never offered until an untimely and unthinking disease, which possessed many of the characteristics of one of the most dreaded maladies, confined him to his bed at the White House.

The rumor spread that the President was afflicted with this disease, while the truth was that it was merely a very mild attack of varioloid. The office-seekers didn’t know the facts, and for once the Executive Mansion was clear of them.

One day, a man from the West, who didn’t read the papers, but wanted the postoffice in his town, called at the White House. The President, being then practically a well man, saw him. The caller was engaged in a voluble endeavor to put his capabilities in the most favorable light, when the President interrupted him with the remark that he would be compelled to make the interview short, as his doctor was due.

“Why, Mr. President, are you sick?” queried the visitor.

“Oh, nothing much,” replied Mr. Lincoln, “but the physician says he fears the worst.”

“What worst, may I ask?”

“Smallpox,” was the answer; “but you needn’t be scared. I’m only in the first stages now.”

The visitor grabbed his hat, sprang from his chair, and without a word bolted for the door.

“Don’t be in a hurry,” said the President placidly; “sit down and talk awhile.”

“Thank you, sir; I’ll call again,” shouted the Westerner, as he disappeared through the opening in the wall.

“Now, that’s the way with people,” the President said, when relating the story afterward. “When I can’t give them what they want, they’re dissatisfied, and say harsh things about me; but when I’ve something to give to everybody they scamper off.”


An applicant for a sutlership in the army relates this story: “In the winter of 1864, after serving three years in the Union Army, and being honorably discharged, I made application for the post sutlership at Point Lookout. My father being interested, we made application to Mr. Stanton, the Secretary of War. We obtained an audience, and were ushered into the presence of the most pompous man I ever met. As I entered he waved his hand for me to stop at a given distance from him, and then put these questions, viz.:

“‘Did you serve three years in the army?’

“‘I did, sir.’

“‘Were you honorably discharged?’

“‘I was, sir.’

“‘Let me see your discharge.’

“I gave it to him. He looked it over, then said:

‘Were you ever wounded?’ I told him yes, at the battle of Williamsburg, May 5, 1861.

“He then said: ‘I think we can give this position to a soldier who has lost an arm or leg, he being more deserving; and he then said I looked hearty and healthy enough to serve three years more. He would not give me a chance to argue my case.

The audience was at an end. He waved his hand to me. I was then dismissed from the august presence of the Honorable Secretary of War. “My father was waiting for me in the hallway, who saw by my countenance that I was not successful. I said to my father:

“‘Let us go over to Mr. Lincoln; he may give us more satisfaction.’

“He said it would do me no good, but we went over. Mr. Lincoln’s reception room was full of ladies and gentlemen when we entered.

“My turn soon came. Lincoln turned to my father and said

“‘Now, gentlemen, be pleased to be as quick as possible with your business, as it is growing late.’

“My father then stepped up to Lincoln and introduced me to him. Lincoln then said:

“‘Take a seat, gentlemen, and state your business as quickly as possible.’

“There was but one chair by Lincoln, so he motioned my father to sit, while I stood. My father stated the business to him as stated above. He then said:

“‘Have you seen Mr. Stanton?’

“We told him yes, that he had refused. He (Mr. Lincoln) then said:

“‘Gentlemen, this is Mr. Stanton’s business; I cannot interfere with him; he attends to all these matters and I am sorry I cannot help you.’

“He saw that we were disappointed, and did his best to revive our spirits. He succeeded well with my father, who was a Lincoln man, and who was a staunch Republican.

“Mr. Lincoln then said:

“‘Now, gentlemen, I will tell you, what it is; I have thousands of applications like this every day, but we cannot satisfy all for this reason, that these positions are like office seekers–there are too many pigs for the teats.’

“The ladies who were listening to the conversation placed their handkerchiefs to their faces and turned away. But the joke of ‘Old Abe’ put us all in a good humor. We then left the presence of the greatest and most just man who ever lived to fill the Presidential chair.'”


No sooner was Abraham Lincoln made the candidate for the Presidency of the Republican Party, in 1860, than the opposition began to lampoon and caricature him. In the cartoon here reproduced, which is given the title of:

“The Republican Party Going to the Right House,” Lincoln is represented as entering the Lunatic Asylum, riding on a rail, carried by Horace Greeley, the great Abolitionist; Lincoln, followed by his “fellow-cranks,” is assuring the latter that the millennium is “going to begin,” and that all requests will be granted.

Lincoln’s followers are depicted as those men and women composing the “free love” element; those who want religion abolished; negroes, who want it understood that the white man has no rights his black brother is bound to respect; women suffragists, who demand that men be made subject to female authority; tramps, who insist upon free lodging-houses; criminals, who demand the right to steal from all they meet; and toughs, who want the police forces abolished, so that “the b’hoys” can “run wid de masheen,” and have “a muss” whenever they feel like it, without interference by the authorities.


Speaking of his last meeting with Judge Douglas, Mr. Lincoln said: “One day Douglas came rushing in and said he had just got a telegraph dispatch from some friends in Illinois urging him to come out and help set things right in Egypt, and that he would go, or stay in Washington, just where I thought he could do the most good.

“I told him to do as he chose, but that probably he could do best in Illinois. Upon that he shook hands with me, and hurried away to catch the next train. I never saw him again.”


Lincoln was one of the attorneys in a case of considerable importance, court being held in a very small and dilapidated schoolhouse out in the country; Lincoln was compelled to stoop very much in order to enter the door, and the seats were so low that he doubled up his legs like a jackknife.

Lincoln was obliged to sit upon a school bench, and just in front of him was another, making the distance between him and the seat in front of him very narrow and uncomfortable.

His position was almost unbearable, and in order to carry out his preference which he secured as often as possible, and that was “to sit as near to the jury as convenient,” he took advantage of his discomfort and finally said to the Judge on the “bench”:

“Your Honor, with your permission, I’ll sit up nearer to the gentlemen of the jury, for it hurts my legs less to rub my calves against the bench than it does to skin my shins.”


When Mr. Lincoln had prepared his brief letter accepting the Presidential nomination he took it to Dr. Newton Bateman, the State Superintendent of Education.

“Mr. Schoolmaster,” he said, “here is my letter of acceptance. I am not very strong on grammar and I wish you to see if it is all right. I wouldn’t like to have any mistakes in it.”.

The doctor took the letter and after reading it, said:

“There is only one change I should suggest, Mr. Lincoln, you have written ‘It shall be my care to not violate or disregard it in any part,’ you should have written ‘not to violate.’ Never split an infinitive, is the rule.”

Mr. Lincoln took the manuscript, regarding it a moment with a puzzled air, “So you think I better put those two little fellows end to end, do you?” he said as he made the change.


Reuben and Charles Grigsby were married in Spencer county, Indiana, on the same day to Elizabeth Ray and Matilda Hawkins, respectively. They met the next day at the home of Reuben Grigsby, Sr., and held a double infare, to which most of the county was invited, with the exception of the Lincolns. This Abraham duly resented, and it resulted in his first attempt at satirical writing, which he called “The Chronicles of Reuben.”

The manuscript was lost, and not recovered until 1865, when a house belonging to one of the Grigsbys was torn down. In the loft a boy found a roll of musty old papers, and was intently reading them, when he was asked what he was doing.

“Reading a portion of the Scriptures that haven’t been revealed yet,” was the response. This was Lincoln’s “Chronicles,” which is herewith given


“Now, there was a man whose name was Reuben, and the same was very great in substance, in horses and cattle and swine, and a very great household.

“It came to pass when the sons of Reuben grew up that they were desirous of taking to themselves wives, and, being too well known as to honor in their own country, they took a journey into a far country and there procured for themselves wives.

“It came to pass also that when they were about to make the return home they sent a messenger before them to bear the tidings to their parents.

“These, inquiring of the messenger what time their sons and wives would come, made a great feast and called all their kinsmen and neighbors in, and made great preparation.

“When the time drew nigh, they sent out two men to meet the grooms and their brides, with a trumpet to welcome them, and to accompany them.

“When they came near unto the house of Reuben, the father, the messenger came before them and gave a shout, and the whole multitude ran out with shouts of joy and music, playing on all kinds of instruments.

“Some were playing on harps, some on viols, and some blowing on rams’ horns.

“Some also were casting dust and ashes toward Heaven, and chief among them all was Josiah, blowing his bugle and making sounds so great the neighboring hills and valleys echoed with the resounding acclamation.

“When they had played and their harps had sounded till the grooms and brides approached the gates, Reuben, the father, met them and welcomed them to his house.

“The wedding feast being now ready, they were all invited to sit down and eat, placing the bridegrooms and their brides at each end of the table.

“Waiters were then appointed to serve and wait on the guests. When all had eaten and were full and merry, they went out again and played and sung till night.

“And when they had made an end of feasting and rejoicing the multitude dispersed, each going to his own home.

“The family then took seats with their waiters to converse while preparations were being made in two upper chambers for the brides and grooms.

“This being done, the waiters took the two brides upstairs, placing one in a room at the right hand of the stairs and the other on the left.

“The waiters came down, and Nancy, the mother, then gave directions to the waiters of the bridegrooms, and they took them upstairs, but placed them in the wrong rooms.

“The waiters then all came downstairs.

“But the mother, being fearful of a mistake, made inquiry of the waiters, and learning the true facts, took the light and sprang upstairs.

“It came to pass she ran to one of the rooms and exclaimed, ‘O Lord, Reuben, you are with the wrong wife.’

“The young men, both alarmed at this, ran out with such violence against each other, they came near knocking each other down.

“The tumult gave evidence to those below that the mistake was certain.

“At last they all came down and had a long conversation about who made the mistake, but it could not be decided.

“So ended the chapter.”

The original manuscript of “The Chronicles of Reuben” was last in the possession of Redmond Grigsby, of Rockport, Indiana. A newspaper which had obtained a copy of the “Chronicles,” sent a reporter to interview Elizabeth Grigsby, or Aunt Betsy, as she was called, and asked her about the famous manuscript and the mistake made at the double wedding.

“Yes, they did have a joke on us,” said Aunt Betsy. “They said my man got into the wrong room and Charles got into my room. But it wasn’t so. Lincoln just wrote that for mischief. Abe and my man often laughed about that.


An officer, having had some trouble with General Sherman, being very angry, presented himself before Mr. Lincoln, who was visiting the camp, and said, “Mr. President, I have a cause of grievance. This morning I went to General Sherman and he threatened to shoot me.”

“Threatened to shoot you?” asked Mr. Lincoln. “Well, (in a stage whisper) if I were you I would keep away from him; if he threatens to shoot, I would not trust him, for I believe he would do it.”


Early in the Presidential campaign of 1864, President Lincoln said one night to a late caller at the White House:

“We have met the enemy and they are ‘ourn!’ I think the cabal of obstructionists ‘am busted.’ I feel certain that, if I live, I am going to be re-elected. Whether I deserve to be or not, it is not for me to say; but on the score even of remunerative chances for speculative service, I now am inspired with the hope that our disturbed country further requires the valuable services of your humble servant. ‘Jordan has been a hard road to travel,’ but I feel now that, notwithstanding the enemies I have made and the faults I have committed, I’ll be dumped on the right side of that stream.

“I hope, however, that I may never have another four years of such anxiety, tribulation and abuse. My only ambition is and has been to put down the rebellion and restore peace, after which I want to resign my office, go abroad, take some rest, study foreign governments, see something of foreign life, and in my old age die in peace with all of the good of God’s creatures.”


An old acquaintance of the President visited him in Washington. Lincoln desired to give him a place. Thus encouraged, the visitor, who was an honest man, but wholly inexperienced in public affairs or business, asked for a high office, Superintendent of the Mint.

The President was aghast, and said: “Good gracious! Why didn’t he ask to be Secretary of the Treasury, and have done with it?”

Afterward, he said: “Well, now, I never thought Mr.– had anything more than average ability, when we were young men together. But, then, I suppose he thought the same thing about me, and–here I am!”


At the celebrated Peace Conference, whereat there was much “pow-wow” and no result, President Lincoln, in response to certain remarks by the Confederate commissioners, commented with some severity upon the conduct of the Confederate leaders, saying they had plainly forfeited all right to immunity from punishment for their treason.

Being positive and unequivocal in stating his views concerning individual treason, his words were of ominous import. There was a pause, during which Commissioner Hunter regarded the speaker with a steady, searching look. At length, carefully measuring his words, Mr. Hunter said:

“Then, Mr. President, if we understand you correctly, you think that we of the Confederacy have committed treason; are traitors to your Government; have forfeited our rights, and are proper subjects for the hangman. Is not that about what your words imply?”

“Yes,” replied President Lincoln, “you have stated the proposition better than I did. That is about the size of it!”

Another pause, and a painful one succeeded, and then Hunter, with a pleasant smile remarked:

“Well, Mr. Lincoln, we have about concluded that we shall not be hanged as long as you are President–if we behave ourselves.”

And Hunter meant what he said.


On one occasion, in going to meet an appointment in the southern part of the Sucker State–that section of Illinois called Egypt–Lincoln, with other friends, was traveling in the “caboose” of a freight train, when the freight was switched off the main track to allow a special train to pass.

Lincoln’s more aristocratic rival (Stephen A. Douglas) was being conveyed to the same town in this special. The passing train was decorated with banners and flags, and carried a band of music, which was playing “Hail to the Chief.”

As the train whistled past, Lincoln broke out in a fit of laughter, and said: “Boys, the gentleman in that car evidently smelt no royalty in our carriage.”


Ward Lamon told this story of President Lincoln, whom he found one day in a particularly gloomy frame of mind. Lamon said:

“The President remarked, as I came in, ‘I fear I have made Senator Wade, of Ohio, my enemy for life.’

“‘How?’ I asked.

“‘Well,’ continued the President, ‘Wade was here just now urging me to dismiss Grant, and, in response to something he said, I remarked, “Senator, that reminds me of a story.'”

“‘What did Wade say?’ I inquired of the President.

“‘He said, in a petulant way,’ the President responded, ‘”It is with you, sir, all story, story! You are the father of every military blunder that has been made during the war. You are on your road to hell, sir, with this government, by your obstinacy, and you are not a mile off this minute.”‘

“‘What did you say then?’

” I good-naturedly said to him,’ the President replied, ‘”Senator, that is just about from here to the Capitol, is it not?” He was very angry, grabbed up his hat and cane, and went away.'”


President Lincoln had not been in the White House very long before Mrs. Lincoln became seized with the idea that a fine new barouche was about the proper thing for “the first lady in the land.” The President did not care particularly about it one way or the other, and told his wife to order whatever she wanted.

Lincoln forgot all about the new vehicle, and was overcome with astonishment one afternoon when, having acceded to Mrs. Lincoln’s desire to go driving, he found a beautiful barouche standing in front of the door of the White House.

His wife watched him with an amused smile, but the only remark he made was, “Well, Mary, that’s about the slickest ‘glass hack’ in town, isn’t it?”


Lincoln, in the days of his youth, was often unfaithful to his Quaker traditions. On the day of election in 1840, word came to him that one Radford, a Democratic contractor, had taken possession of one of the polling places with his workmen, and was preventing the Whigs from voting. Lincoln started off at a gait which showed his interest in the matter in hand.

He went up to Radford and persuaded him to leave the polls, remarking at the same time: “Radford, you’ll spoil and blow, if you live much longer.”

Radford’s prudence prevented an actual collision, which, it is said, Lincoln regretted. He told his friend Speed he wanted Radford to show fight so that he might “knock him down and leave him kicking.”


President Lincoln was at all times an advocate of peace, provided