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  • 1900
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it could be obtained honorably and with credit to the United States. As to the cause of the Civil War, which side of Mason and Dixon’s line was responsible for it, who fired the first shots, who were the aggressors, etc., Lincoln did not seem to bother about; he wanted to preserve the Union, above all things. Slavery, he was assured, was dead, but he thought the former slaveholders should be recompensed.

To illustrate his feelings in the matter he told this story:

“Some of the supporters of the Union cause are opposed to accommodate or yield to the South in any manner or way because the Confederates began the war; were determined to take their States out of the Union, and, consequently, should be held responsible to the last stage for whatever may come in the future. Now this reminds me of a good story I heard once, when I lived in Illinois.

“A vicious bull in a pasture took after everybody who tried to cross the lot, and one day a neighbor of the owner was the victim. This man was a speedy fellow and got to a friendly tree ahead of the bull, but not in time to climb the tree. So he led the enraged animal a merry race around the tree, finally succeeding in seizing the bull by the tail.

“The bull, being at a disadvantage, not able to either catch the man or release his tail, was mad enough to eat nails; he dug up the earth with his feet, scattered gravel all around, bellowed until you could hear him for two miles or more, and at length broke into a dead run, the man hanging onto his tail all the time.

“While the bull, much out of temper, was legging it to the best of his ability, his tormentor, still clinging to the tail, asked, ‘Darn you, who commenced this fuss?’

“It’s our duty to settle this fuss at the earliest possible moment, no matter who commenced it. That’s my idea of it.”


When General W. T. Sherman, November 12th, 1864, severed all communication with the North and started for Savannah with his magnificent army of sixty thousand men, there was much anxiety for a month as to his whereabouts. President Lincoln, in response to an inquiry, said: “I know what hole Sherman went in at, but I don’t know what hole he’ll come out at.”

Colonel McClure had been in consultation with the President one day, about two weeks after Sherman’s disappearance, and in this connection related this incident

“I was leaving the room, and just as I reached the door the President turned around, and, with a merry twinkling of the eye, inquired, ‘McClure, wouldn’t you like to hear something from Sherman?’

“The inquiry electrified me at the instant, as it seemed to imply that Lincoln had some information on the subject. I immediately answered, ‘Yes, most of all, I should like to hear from Sherman.’

“To this President Lincoln answered, with a hearty laugh: ‘Well, I’ll be hanged if I wouldn’t myself.'”


Although himself a most polished, even a fastidious, gentleman, Senator Sumner never allowed Lincoln’s homely ways to hide his great qualities. He gave him a respect and esteem at the start which others accorded only after experience. The Senator was most tactful, too, in his dealings with Mrs. Lincoln, and soon had a firm footing in the household. That he was proud of this, perhaps a little boastful, there is no doubt.

Lincoln himself appreciated this. “Sumner thinks he runs me,” he said, with an amused twinkle, one day.


When Hood’s army had been scattered into fragments, President Lincoln, elated by the defeat of what had so long been a menacing force on the borders of Tennessee was reminded by its collapse of the fate of a savage dog belonging to one of his neighbors in the frontier settlements in which he lived in his youth. “The dog,” he said, “was the terror of the neighborhood, and its owner, a churlish and quarrelsome fellow, took pleasure in the brute’s forcible attitude.

“Finally, all other means having failed to subdue the creature, a man loaded a lump of meat with a charge of powder, to which was attached a slow fuse; this was dropped where the dreaded dog would find it, and the animal gulped down the tempting bait.

“There was a dull rumbling, a muffled explosion, and fragments of the dog were seen flying in every direction. The grieved owner, picking up the shattered remains of his cruel favorite, said: ‘He was a good dog, but as a dog, his days of usefulness are over.’ Hood’s army was a good army,” said Lincoln, by way of comment, “and we were all afraid of it, but as an army, its usefulness is gone.”


Judge Baldwin, of California, being in Washington, called one day on General Halleck, then Commander-in-Chief of the Union forces, and, presuming upon a familiar acquaintance in California a few years since, solicited a pass outside of our lines to see a brother in Virginia, not thinking that he would meet with a refusal, as both his brother and himself were good Union men.

“We have been deceived too often,” said General Halleck, “and I regret I can’t grant it.”

Judge B. then went to Stanton, and was very briefly disposed of with the same result. Finally, he obtained an interview with Mr. Lincoln, and stated his case.

“Have you applied to General Halleck?” inquired the President.

“Yes, and met with a flat refusal,” said Judge B.

“Then you must see Stanton,” continued the President.

“I have, and with the same result,” was the reply.

“Well, then,” said Mr. Lincoln, with a smile, “I can do nothing; for you must know that I have very little influence with this Administration, although I hope to have more with the next.”


Many ladies attended the famous debates between Lincoln and Douglas, and they were the most unprejudiced listeners. “I can recall only one fact of the debates,” says Mrs. William Crotty, of Seneca, Illinois, “that I felt so sorry for Lincoln while Douglas was speaking, and then to my surprise I felt so sorry for Douglas when Lincoln replied.”

The disinterested to whom it was an intellectual game, felt the power and charm of both men.


“What made the deepest impression upon you?” inquired a friend one day, “when you stood in the presence of the Falls of Niagara, the greatest of natural wonders?”

“The thing that struck me most forcibly when I saw the Falls,” Lincoln responded, with characteristic deliberation, “was, where in the world did all that water come from?”


The second election of Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency of the United States was the reward of his courage and genius bestowed upon him by the people of the Union States. General George B. McClellan was his opponent in 1864 upon the platform that “the War is a failure,” and carried but three States–New Jersey, Delaware and Kentucky. The States which did not think the War was a failure were those in New England, New York, Pennsylvania, all the Western commonwealths, West Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas and the new State of Nevada, admitted into the Union on October 31st. President Lincoln’s popular majority over McClellan, who never did much toward making the War a success, was more than four hundred thousand. Underneath the cartoon reproduced here, from “Harper’s Weekly” of November 26th, 1864, were the words, “Long Abraham Lincoln a Little Longer.”

But the beloved President’s time upon earth was not to be much longer, as he was assassinated just one month and ten days after his second inauguration. Indeed, the words, “a little longer,” printed below the cartoon, were strangely prophetic, although not intended to be such.

The people of the United States had learned to love “Long Abe,” their affection being of a purely personal nature, in the main. No other Chief Executive was regarded as so sincerely the friend of the great mass of the inhabitants of the Republic as Lincoln. He was, in truth, one of “the common people,” having been born among them, and lived as one of them.

Lincoln’s great height made him an easy subject for the cartoonist, and they used it in his favor as well as against him.


A Commissioner to the Hawaiian Islands was to be appointed, and eight applicants had filed their papers, when a delegation from the South appeared at the White House on behalf of a ninth. Not only was their man fit–so the delegation urged–but was also in bad health, and a residence in that balmy climate would be of great benefit to him.

The President was rather impatient that day, and before the members of the delegation had fairly started in, suddenly closed the interview with this remark:

“Gentlemen, I am sorry to say that there are eight other applicants for that place, and they are all ‘sicker’n’ your man.”


An officer of low volunteer rank persisted in telling and re-telling his troubles to the President on a summer afternoon when Lincoln was tired and careworn.

After listening patiently, he finally turned upon the man, and, looking wearily out upon the broad Potomac in the distance, said in a peremptory tone that ended the interview:

“Now, my man, go away, go away. I cannot meddle in your case. I could as easily bail out the Potomac River with a teaspoon as attend to all the details of the army.”


When the Emancipation Proclamation was taken to Mr. Lincoln by Secretary Seward, for the President’s signature, Mr. Lincoln took a pen, dipped it in the ink, moved his hand to the place for the signature, held it a moment, then removed his hand and dropped the pen. After a little hesitation, he again took up the pen and went through the same movement as before. Mr. Lincoln then turned to Mr. Seward and said:

“I have been shaking hands since nine o’clock this morning, and my right arm is almost paralyzed. If my name ever goes into history, it will be for this act, and my whole soul is in it. If my hand trembles when I sign the Proclamation, all who examine the document hereafter will say, ‘He hesitated.'”

He then turned to the table, took up the pen again, and slowly, firmly wrote “Abraham Lincoln,” with which the whole world is now familiar.

He then looked up, smiled, and said, “That will do.”


Mr. Lovejoy, heading a committee of Western men, discussed an important scheme with the President, and the gentlemen were then directed to explain it to Secretary of War Stanton.

Upon presenting themselves to the Secretary, and showing the President’s order, the Secretary said: “Did Lincoln give you an order of that kind?”

“He did, sir.”

“Then he is a d–d fool,” said the angry Secretary.

“Do you mean to say that the President is a d–d fool?” asked Lovejoy, in amazement.

“Yes, sir, if he gave you such an order as that.”

The bewildered Illinoisan betook himself at once to the President and related the result of the conference.

“Did Stanton say I was a d–d fool?” asked Lincoln at the close of the recital.

“He did, sir, and repeated it.”

After a moment’s pause, and looking up, the President said: “If Stanton said I was a d–d fool, then I must be one, for he is nearly always right, and generally says what he means. I will slip over and see him.”


A good story is told of how Mrs. Lincoln made a little surprise for her husband.

In the early days it was customary for lawyers to go from one county to another on horseback, a journey which often required several weeks. On returning from one of these trips, late one night, Mr. Lincoln dismounted from his horse at the familiar corner and then turned to go into the house, but stopped; a perfectly unknown structure was before him. Surprised, and thinking there must be some mistake, he went across the way and knocked at a neighbor’s door. The family had retired, and so called out:

“Who’s there?”

“Abe Lincoln,” was the reply. “I am looking for my house. I thought it was across the way, but when I went away a few weeks ago there was only a one-story house there and now there is a two-story house in its place. I think I must be lost.”

The neighbors then explained that Mrs. Lincoln had added another story during his absence. And Mr. Lincoln laughed and went to his remodeled house.


The persistence of office-seekers nearly drove President Lincoln wild. They slipped in through the half-opened doors of the Executive Mansion; they dogged his steps if he walked; they edged their way through the crowds and thrust their papers in his hands when he rode; and, taking it all in all, they well-nigh worried him to death.

He once said that if the Government passed through the Rebellion without dismemberment there was the strongest danger of its falling a prey to the rapacity of the office-seeking class.

“This human struggle and scramble for office, for a way to live without work, will finally test the strength of our institutions,” were the words he used.


On April 20th a delegation from Baltimore appeared at the White House and begged the President that troops for Washington be sent around and not through Baltimore.

President Lincoln replied, laughingly: “If I grant this concession, you will be back tomorrow asking that no troops be marched ‘around’ it.”

The President was right. That afternoon, and again on Sunday and Monday, committees sought him, protesting that Maryland soil should not be “polluted” by the feet of soldiers marching against the South.

The President had but one reply: “We must have troops, and as they can neither crawl under Maryland nor fly over it, they must come across it.”


The Governor-General of Canada, with some of his principal officers, visited President Lincoln in the summer of 1864.

They had been very troublesome in harboring blockade runners, and they were said to have carried on a large trade from their ports with the Confederates. Lincoln treated his guests with great courtesy.

After a pleasant interview, the Governor, alluding to the coming Presidential election said, jokingly, but with a grain of sarcasm: “I understand Mr. President, that everybody votes in this country. If we remain until November, can we vote?”

“You remind me, replied the President, “of a countryman of yours, a green emigrant from Ireland. Pat arrived on election day, and perhaps was as eager a your Excellency to vote, and to vote early, and late and often.

“So, upon landing at Castle Garden, he hastened to the nearest voting place, and as he approached, the judge who received the ballots inquired, ‘Who do you want to vote for? On which side are you?’ Poor Pat was embarrassed; he did not know who were the candidates. He stopped, scratched his head, then, with the readiness of his countrymen, he said:

“‘I am forninst the Government, anyhow. Tell me, if your Honor plase: which is the rebellion side, and I’ll tell you haw I want to vote. In ould Ireland, I was always on the rebellion side, and, by Saint Patrick, I’ll do that same in America.’ Your Excellency,” said Mr. Lincoln, “would, I should think, not be at all at a loss on which side to vote!”


One night, about eleven o’clock, Colonel A. K. McClure, whose intimacy with President Lincoln was so great that he could obtain admittance to the Executive Mansion at any and all hours, called at the White House to urge Mr. Lincoln to remove General Grant from command.

After listening patiently for a long time, the President, gathering himself up in his chair, said, with the utmost earnestness:

“I can’t spare this man; he fights!”

In relating the particulars of this interview, Colonel McClure said:

“That was all he said, but I knew that it was enough, and that Grant was safe in Lincoln’s hands against his countless hosts of enemies. The only man in all the nation who had the power to save Grant was Lincoln, and he had decided to do it. He was not influenced by any personal partiality for Grant, for they had never met.

“It was not until after the battle of Shiloh, fought on the 6th and 7th of April, 1862, that Lincoln was placed in a position to exercise a controlling influence in shaping the destiny of Grant. The first reports from the Shiloh battle-field created profound alarm throughout the entire country, and the wildest exaggerations were spread in a floodtide of vituperation against Grant.

“The few of to-day who can recall the inflamed condition of public sentiment against Grant caused by the disastrous first day’s battle at Shiloh will remember that he was denounced as incompetent for his command by the public journals of all parties in the North, and with almost entire unanimity by Senators and Congressmen, regardless of political affinities.

“I appealed to Lincoln for his own sake to remove Grant at once, and in giving my reasons for it I simply voiced the admittedly overwhelming protest from the loyal people of the land against Grant’s continuance in command.

“I did not forget that Lincoln was the one man who never allowed himself to appear as wantonly defying public sentiment. It seemed to me impossible for him to save Grant without taking a crushing load of condemnation upon himself; but Lincoln was wiser than all those around him, and he not only saved Grant, but he saved him by such well-concerted effort that he soon won popular applause from those who were most violent in demanding Grant’s dismissal.”


During the Lincoln-Douglas joint debates of 1858, the latter accused Lincoln of having, when in Congress, voted against the appropriation for supplies to be sent the United States soldiers in Mexico. In reply, Lincoln said: “This is a perversion of the facts. I was opposed to the policy of the administration in declaring war against Mexico; but when war was declared I never failed to vote for the support of any proposition looking to the comfort of our poor fellows who were maintaining the dignity of our flag in a war that I thought unnecessary and unjust.”

He gradually became more and more excited; his voice thrilled and his whole frame shook. Sitting on the stand was O. B. Ficklin, who had served in Congress with Lincoln in 1847. Lincoln reached back, took Ficklin by the coat-collar, back of his neck, and in no gentle manner lifted him from his seat as if he had been a kitten, and roared: “Fellow-citizens, here is Ficklin, who was at that time in Congress with me, and he knows it is a lie.”

He shook Ficklin until his teeth chattered. Fearing he would shake Ficklin’s head off, Ward Lamon grasped Lincoln’s hand and broke his grip.

After the speaking was over, Ficklin, who had warm personal friendship with him, said: “Lincoln, you nearly shook all the Democracy out of me to-day.”


President Lincoln was censured for appointing one that had zealously opposed his second term.

He replied: “Well, I suppose Judge E., having been disappointed before, did behave pretty ugly, but that wouldn’t make him any less fit for the place; and I think I have Scriptural authority for appointing him.

“You remember when the Lord was on Mount Sinai getting out a commission for Aaron, that same Aaron was at the foot of the mountain making a false god for the people to worship. Yet Aaron got his commission, you know.”


At the time of Lincoln’s nomination, at Chicago, Mr. Newton Bateman, Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Illinois, occupied a room adjoining and opening into the Executive Chamber at Springfield. Frequently this door was open during Mr. Lincoln’s receptions, and throughout the seven months or more of his occupation he saw him nearly every day. Often, when Mr. Lincoln was tired, he closed the door against all intruders, and called Mr. Bateman into his room for a quiet talk. On one of these occasions, Mr. Lincoln took up a book containing canvass of the city of Springfield, in which he lived, showing the candidate for whom each citizen had declared it his intention to vote in the approaching election. Mr.Lincoln’s friends had, doubtless at his own request, placed the result of the canvass in his hands. This was towards the close of October, and only a few days before election. Calling Mr. Bateman to a seat by his side, having previously locked all the doors, he said:

“Let us look over this book; I wish particularly to see how the ministers if Springfield are going to vote.” The leaves were turned, one by one, and as the names were examined Mr. Lincoln frequently asked if this one and that one was not a minister, or an elder, or a member of such and such a church, and sadly expressed his surprise on receiving an affirmative answer. In that manner he went through the book, and then he closed it, and sat silently for some minutes regarding a memorandum in pencil which lay before him. At length he turned to Mr. Bateman, with a face full of sadness, and said:

“Here are twenty-three ministers of different denominations, and all of them are against me but three, and here are a great many prominent members of churches, a very large majority are against me. Mr. Bateman, I am not a Christian–God knows I would be one –but I have carefully read the Bible, and I do not so understand this book,” and he drew forth a pocket New Testament.

“These men well know,” he continued, “that I am for freedom in the Territories, freedom everywhere, as free as the Constitution and the laws will permit, and that my opponents are for slavery. They know this, and yet, with this book in their hands, in the light of which human bondage cannot live a moment, they are going to vote against me; I do not understand it at all.”

Here Mr. Lincoln paused–paused for long minutes, his features surcharged with emotion. Then he rose and walked up and down the reception-room in the effort to retain or regain his self-possession. Stopping at last, he said, with a trembling voice and cheeks wet with tears:

“I know there is a God, and that He hates injustice and slavery. I see the storm coming, and I know that His hand is in it. If He has a place and work for me, and I think He has, I believe I am ready. I am nothing, but Truth is everything. I know I am right, because I know that liberty is right, for Christ teaches it, and Christ is God. I have told them that a house divided against itself cannot stand; and Christ and Reason say the same, and they will find it so.

“Douglas doesn’t care whether slavery is voted up or down, but God cares, and humanity cares, and I care; and with God’s help I shall not fail. I may not see the end, but it will come, and I shall be vindicated; and these men will find they have not read their Bible right.”

Much of this was uttered as if he were speaking to himself, and with a sad, earnest solemnity of manner impossible to be described. After a pause he resumed:

“Doesn’t it seem strange that men can ignore the moral aspect of this contest? No revelation could make it plainer to me that slavery or the Government must be destroyed. The future would be something awful, as I look at it, but for this rock on which I stand” (alluding to the Testament which he still held in his hand), “especially with the knowledge of how these ministers are going to vote. It seems as if God had borne with this thing (slavery) until the teachers of religion have come to defend it from the Bible, and to claim for it a divine character and sanction; and now the cup of iniquity is full, and the vials of wrath will be poured out.”

Everything he said was of a peculiarly deep, tender, and religious tone, and all was tinged with a touching melancholy. He repeatedly referred to his conviction that the day of wrath was at hand, and that he was to be an actor in the terrible struggle which would issue in the overthrow of slavery, although he might not live to see the end.

After further reference to a belief in the Divine Providence and the fact of God in history, the conversation turned upon prayer. He freely stated his belief in the duty, privilege, and efficacy of prayer, and intimated, in no unmistakable terms, that he had sought in that way Divine guidance and favor. The effect of this conversation upon the mind of Mr. Bateman, a Christian gentleman whom Mr. Lincoln profoundly respected, was to convince him that Mr. Lincoln had, in a quiet way, found a path to the Christian standpoint–that he had found God, and rested on the eternal truth of God. As the two men were about to separate, Mr. Bateman remarked:

“I have not supposed that you were accustomed to think so much upon this class of subjects; certainly your friends generally are ignorant of the sentiments you have expressed to me.”

He replied quickly: “I know they are, but I think more on these subjects than upon all others, and I have done so for years; and I am willing you should know it.”


Secretary of War Stanton told the President the following story, which greatly amused the latter, as he was especially fond of a joke at the expense of some high military or civil dignitary.

Stanton had little or no sense of humor.

When Secretary Stanton was making a trip up the Broad River in North Carolina, in a tugboat, a Federal picket yelled out, “What have you got on board of that tug?”

The severe and dignified answer was, “The Secretaty of War and Major-General Foster.”

Instantly the picket roared back, “We’ve got Major-Generals enough up here. Why don’t you bring us up some hardtack?”


A story told by a Cabinet member tended to show how accurately Lincoln could calculate political results in advance–a faculty which remained with him all his life.

“A friend, who was a Democrat, had come to him early in the canvass and told him he wanted to see him elected, but did not like to vote against his party; still he would vote for him, if the contest was to be so close that every vote was needed.

“A short time before the election Lincoln said to him: ‘I have got the preacher, and I don’t want your vote.'”


When General Halleck was Commander-in-Chief of the Union forces, with headquarters at Washington, President Lincoln unconsciously played a big practical joke upon that dignified officer. The President had spent the night at the Soldiers’ Home, and the next morning asked Captain Derickson, commanding the company of Pennsylvania soldiers, which was the Presidential guard at the White House and the Home–wherever the President happened to be –to go to town with him.

Captain Derickson told the story in a most entertaining way:

“When we entered the city, Mr. Lincoln said he would call at General Halleck’s headquarters and get what news had been received from the army during the night. I informed him that General Cullum, chief aid to General Halleck, was raised in Meadville, and that I knew him when I was a boy.

“He replied, ‘Then we must see both the gentlemen.’ When the carriage stopped, he requested me to remain seated, and said he would bring the gentlemen down to see me, the office being on the second floor. In a short time the President came down, followed by the other gentlemen. When he introduced them to me, General Cullum recognized and seemed pleased to see me.

“In General Halleck I thought I discovered a kind of quizzical look, as much as to say, ‘Isn’t this rather a big joke to ask the Commander-in-Chief of the army down to the street to be introduced to a country captain?'”


A gentleman, visiting a hospital at Washington, heard an occupant of one of the beds laughing and talking about the President, who had been there a short time before and gladdened the wounded with some of his stories. The soldier seemed in such good spirits that the gentleman inquired:

“You must be very slightly wounded?”

“Yes,” replied the brave fellow, “very slightly–I have only lost one leg, and I’d be glad enough to lose the other, if I could hear some more of ‘Old Abe’s’ stories.”


William B. Wilson, employed in the telegraph office at the War Department, ran over to the White House one day to summon Mr. Lincoln. He described the trip back to the War Department in this manner:

“Calling one of his two younger boys to join him, we then started from the White House, between stately trees, along a gravel path which led to the rear of the old War Department building. It was a warm day, and Mr. Lincoln wore as part of his costume a faded gray linen duster which hung loosely around his long gaunt frame; his kindly eye was beaming with good nature, and his ever-thoughtful brow was unruffled.

“We had barely reached the gravel walk before he stooped over, picked up a round smooth pebble, and shooting it off his thumb, challenged us to a game of ‘followings,’ which we accepted. Each in turn tried to hit the outlying stone, which was being constantly projected onward by the President. The game was short, but exciting; the cheerfulness of childhood, the ambition of young manhood, and the gravity of the statesman were all injected into it.

“The game was not won until the steps of the War Department were reached. Every inch of progression was toughly contested, and when the President was declared victor, it was only by a hand span. He appeared to be as much pleased as if he had won a battle.”


Because of the blockade, by the Union fleets, of the Southern cotton ports, England was deprived of her supply of cotton, and scores of thousands of British operatives were thrown out of employment by the closing of the cotton mills at Manchester and other cities in Great Britain. England (John Bull) felt so badly about this that the British wanted to go to war on account of it, but when the United States eagle ruffled up its wings the English thought over the business and concluded not to fight.

“Harper’s Weekly” of May 16th, 1863, contained the cartoon we reproduce, which shows John Bull as manifesting much anxiety regarding the cotton he had bought from the Southern planters, but which the latter could not deliver. Beneath the cartoon is this bit of dialogue between John Bull and President Lincoln: MR. BULL (confiding creature): “Hi want my cotton, bought at fi’pence a pound.”

MR. LINCOLN: “Don’t know anything about it, my dear sir. Your friends, the rebels, are burning all the cotton they can find, and I confiscate the rest. Good-morning, John!”

As President Lincoln has a big fifteen-inch gun at his side, the black muzzle of which is pressed tightly against Mr. Bull’s waistcoat, the President, to all appearances, has the best of the argument “by a long shot.” Anyhow, Mr. Bull had nothing more to say, but gave the cotton matter up as a bad piece of business, and pocketed the loss.


President Lincoln’s first conclusion (that Mason and Slidell should be released) was the real ground on which the Administration submitted. “We must stick to American principles concerning the rights of neutrals.” It was to many, as Secretary of the Treasury Chase declared it was to him, “gall and wormwood.” James Russell Lowell’s verse expressed best the popular feeling:

We give the critters back, John,
Cos Abram thought ’twas right;
It warn’t your bullyin’ clack, John, Provokin’ us to fight.

The decision raised Mr. Lincoln immeasurably in the view of thoughtful men, especially in England.


General John C. Fremont, with headquarters at St. Louis, astonished the country by issuing a proclamation declaring, among other things, that the property, real and personal, of all the persons in the State of Missouri who should take up arms against the United States, or who should be directly proved to have taken an active part with its enemies in the field, would be confiscated to public use and their slaves, if they had any, declared freemen.

The President was dismayed; he modified that part of the proclamation referring to slaves, and finally replaced Fremont with General Hunter.

Mrs. Fremont (daughter of Senator T. H. Benton), her husband’s real chief of staff, flew to Washington and sought Mr. Lincoln. It was midnight, but the President gave her an audience. Without waiting for an explanation, she violently charged him with sending an enemy to Missouri to look into Fremont’s case, and threatening that if Fremont desired to he could set up a government for himself.

“I had to exercise all the rude tact I have to avoid quarreling with her,” said Mr. Lincoln afterwards.


Lincoln’s attempt to make a lawyer of himself under adverse and unpromising circumstances–he was a bare-footed farm-hand –excited comment. And it was not to be wondered. One old man, who
was yet alive as late as 1901, had often employed Lincoln to do farm work for him, and was surprised to find him one day sitting barefoot on the summit of a woodpile and attentively reading a book.

“This being an unusual thing for farm-hands in that early day to do,” said the old man, when relating the story, “I asked him what he was reading.

“‘I’m not reading,’ he answered. ‘I’m studying.’

“‘Studying what?’ I inquired.

“‘Law, sir,’ was the emphatic response.

“It was really too much for me, as I looked at him sitting there proud as Cicero. ‘Great God Almighty!’ I exclaimed, and passed on.” Lincoln merely laughed and resumed his “studies.”


In a political campaign, Lincoln once replied to Colonel Richard Taylor, a self-conceited, dandified man, who wore a gold chain and ruffled shirt. His party at that time was posing as the hard-working bone and sinew of the land, while the Whigs were stigmatized as aristocrats, ruffled-shirt gentry. Taylor making a sweeping gesture, his overcoat became torn open, displaying his finery. Lincoln in reply said, laying his hand on his jeans-clad breast:

“Here is your aristocrat, one of your silk-stocking gentry, at your service.” Then, spreading out his hands, bronzed and gaunt with toil: “Here is your rag-basin with lily-white hands. Yes, I suppose, according to my friend Taylor, I am a bloated aristocrat.”


Soon after hostilities broke out between the North and South, Congress appointed a Committee on the Conduct of the War. This committee beset Mr. Lincoln and urged all sorts of measures. Its members were aggressive and patriotic, and one thing they determined upon was that the Army of the Potomac should move. But it was not until March that they became convinced that anything would be done.

One day early in that month, Senator Chandler, of Michigan, a member of the committee, met George W. Julian. He was in high glee. “‘Old’ Abe is mad,” said Julian, “and the War will now go on.”


During one of the periods when things were at a standstill, the Washington authorities, being unable to force General McClellan to assume an aggressive attitude, President Lincoln went to the general’s headquarters to have a talk with him, but for some reason he was unable to get an audience.

Mr. Lincoln returned to the White House much disturbed at his failure to see the commander of the Union forces, and immediately sent for two general officers, to have a consultation. On their arrival, he told them he must have some one to talk to about the situation, and as he had failed to see General McClellan, he wished their views as to the possibility or probability of commencing active operations with the Army of the Potomac.

“Something’s got to be done,” said the President, emphatically, “and done right away, or the bottom will fall out of the whole thing. Now, if McClellan doesn’t want to use the army for awhile, I’d like to borrow it from him and see if I can’t do something or other with it.

“If McClellan can’t fish, he ought at least to be cutting bait at a time like this.”


After Mr. Lincoln’s nomination for the Presidency, the Executive Chamber, a large, fine room in the State House at Springfield, was set apart for him, where he met the public until after his election.

As illustrative of the nature of many of his calls, the following incident was related by Mr. Holland, an eye-witness: “Mr. Lincoln being in conversation with a gentleman one day, two raw, plainly-dressed young ‘Suckers’ entered the room, and bashfully lingered near the door. As soon as he observed them, and saw their embarrassment, he rose and walked to them, saying: ‘How do you do, my good fellows? What can I do for you? Will you sit down?’ The spokesman of the pair, the shorter of the two, declined to sit, and explained the object of the call thus: He had had a talk about the relative height of Mr. Lincoln and his companion, and had asserted his belief that they were of exactly the same height. He had come in to verify his judgment. Mr. Lincoln smiled, went and got his cane, and, placing the end of it upon the wall, said” ‘Here, young man, come under here.’ “The young man came under the cane as Mr. Lincoln held it, and when it was perfectly adjusted to his height, Mr. Lincoln said:

“‘Now, come out, and hold the cane.’

“This he did, while Mr. Lincoln stood under. Rubbing his head back and forth to see that it worked easily under the measurement, he stepped out, and declared to the sagacious fellow who was curiously looking on, that he had guessed with remarkable accuracy–that he and the young man were exactly the same height. Then he shook hands with them and sent them on their way. Mr. Lincoln would just as soon have thought of cutting off his right hand as he would have thought of turning those boys away with the impression that they had in any way insulted his dignity.


An Ohio Senator had an appointment with President Lincoln at six o’clock, and as he entered the vestibule of the White House his attention was attracted toward a poorly clad young woman, who was violently sobbing. He asked her the cause of her distress. She said she had been ordered away by the servants, after vainly waiting many hours to see the President about her only brother, who had been condemned to death. Her story was this:

She and her brother were foreigners, and orphans. They had been in this country several years. Her brother enlisted in the army, but, through bad influences, was induced to desert. He was captured, tried and sentenced to be shot–the old story.

The poor girl had obtained the signatures of some persons who had formerly known him, to a petition for a pardon, and alone had come to Washington to lay the case before the President. Thronged as the waiting-rooms always were, she had passed the long hours of two days trying in vain to get an audience, and had at length been ordered away.

The gentleman’s feelings were touched. He said to her that he had come to see the President, but did not know as he should succeed. He told her, however, to follow him upstairs, and he would see what could be done for her.

Just before reaching the door, Mr. Lincoln came out, and, meeting his friend, said good-humoredly, “Are you not ahead of time?” The gentleman showed him his watch, with the hand upon the hour of six.

“Well,” returned Mr. Lincoln, “I have been so busy to-day that I have not had time to get a lunch. Go in and sit down; I will be back directly.”

The gentleman made the young woman accompany him into the office, and when they were seated, said to her: “Now, my good girl, I want you to muster all the courage you have in the world. When the President comes back, he will sit down in that armchair. I shall get up to speak to him, and as I do so you must force yourself between us, and insist upon his examination of your papers, telling him it is a case of life and death, and admits of no delay.” These instructions were carried out to the letter. Mr. Lincoln was at first somewhat surprised at the apparent forwardness of the young woman, but observing her distressed appearance, he ceased conversation with his friend, and commenced an examination of the document she had placed in his hands.

Glancing from it to the face of the petitioner, whose tears had broken forth afresh, he studied its expression for a moment, and then his eye fell upon her scanty but neat dress. Instantly his face lighted up.

“My poor girl,” said he, “you have come here with no Governor, or Senator, or member of Congress to plead your cause. You seem honest and truthful; and you don’t wear hoopskirts–and I will be whipped but I will pardon your brother.” And he did.


President Lincoln’s favorite son, Tad, having been sportively commissioned a lieutenant in the United States Army by Secretary Stanton, procured several muskets and drilled the men-servants of the house in the manual of arms without attracting the attention of his father. And one night, to his consternation, he put them all on duty, and relieved the regular sentries, who, seeing the lad in full uniform, or perhaps appreciating the joke, gladly went to their quarters. His brother objected; but Tad insisted upon his rights as an officer. The President laughed but declined to interfere, but when the lad had lost his little authority in his boyish sleep, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States went down and personally discharged the sentries his son had put on the post.


When Mr. Lincoln delivered his first inaugural he was introduced by his friend, United States Senator E. D. Baker, of Oregon. He carried a cane and a little roll–the manuscript of his inaugural address. There was moment’s pause after the introduction, as he vainly looked for a spot where he might place his high silk hat.

Stephen A. Douglas, the political antagonist of his whole public life, the man who had pressed him hardest in the campaign of 1860, was seated just behind him. Douglas stepped forward quickly, and took the hat which Mr. Lincoln held helplessly in his hand.

“If I can’t be President,” Douglas whispered smilingly to Mrs. Brown, a cousin of Mrs. Lincoln and a member of the President’s party, “I at least can hold his hat.”


Mr. Lincoln once said in a speech: “Fellow-citizens, my friend, Mr. Douglas, made the startling announcement to-day that the Whigs are all dead.

“If that be so, fellow-citizens, you will now experience the novelty of hearing a speech from a dead man; and I suppose you might properly say, in the language of the old hymn

“‘Hark! from the tombs a doleful sound.'”


President Lincoln–as he himself put it in conversation one day with a friend–“fairly ached” for his generals to “get down to business.” These slow generals he termed “snails.”

Grant, Sherman and Sheridan were his favorites, for they were aggressive. They did not wait for the enemy to attack. Too many of the others were “lingerers,” as Lincoln called them. They were magnificent in defense, and stubborn and brave, but their names figured too much on the “waiting list.”

The greatest fault Lincoln found with so many of the commanders on the Union side was their unwillingness to move until everything was exactly to their liking.

Lincoln could not understand why these leaders of Northern armies hesitated.


When the Union forces were routed in the first battle of Bull Run, there were many civilians present, who had gone out from Washington to witness the battle. Among the number were several Congressmen. One of these was a tall, long-legged fellow, who wore a long-tailed coat and a high plug hat. When the retreat began, this Congressman was in the lead of the entire crowd fleeing toward Washington. He outran all the rest, and was the first man to arrive in the city. No person ever made such good use of long legs as this Congressman. His immense stride carried him yards at every bound. He went over ditches and gullies at a single leap, and cleared a six-foot fence with a foot to spare. As he went over the fence his plug hat blew off, but he did not pause. With his long coat-tails flying in the wind, he continued straight ahead for Washington.

Many of those behind him were scared almost to death, but the flying Congressman was such a comical figure that they had to laugh in spite of their terror.

Mr. Lincoln enjoyed the description of how this Congressman led the race from Bull’s Run, and laughed at it heartily.

“I never knew but one fellow who could run like that,” he said, “and he was a young man out in Illinois. He had been sparking a girl, much against the wishes of her father. In fact, the old man took such a dislike to him that he threatened to shoot him if he ever ought him around his premises again.

“One evening the young man learned that the girl’s father had gone to the city, and he ventured out to the house. He was sitting in the parlor, with his arm around Betsy’s waist, when he suddenly spied the old man coming around the corner of the house with a shotgun. Leaping through a window into the garden, he started down a path at the top of his speed. He was a long-legged fellow, and could run like greased lightning. Just then a jack-rabbit jumped up in the path in front of him. In about two leaps he overtook the rabbit. Giving it a kick that sent it high in the air, he exclaimed: ‘Git out of the road, gosh dern you, and let somebody run that knows how.’

“I reckon,” said Mr. Lincoln, “that the long-legged Congressman, when he saw the rebel muskets, must have felt a good deal like that young fellow did when he saw the old man’s shot-gun.”


Lincoln was a strong believer in the virtue of dealing honestly with the people.

“If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow-citizens,” he said to a caller at the White House, “you can never regain their respect and esteem.

“It is true that you may fool all the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all the time.”


The night President-elect Lincoln arrived at Washington, one man was observed watching Lincoln very closely as he walked out of the railroad station. Standing a little to one side, the man looked very sharply at Lincoln, and, as the latter passed, seized hold of his hand, and said in a loud tone of voice, “Abe, you can’t play that on me!”

Ward Lamon and the others with Lincoln were instantly alarmed, and would have struck the stranger had not Lincoln hastily said, “Don’t strike him! It is Washburne. Don’t you know him?”

Mr. Seward had given Congressman Washburne a hint of the time the train would arrive, and he had the right to be at the station when the train steamed in, but his indiscreet manner of loudly addressing the President-elect might have led to serious consequences to the latter.


Mrs. Rose Linder Wilkinson, who often accompanied her father, Judge Linder, in the days when he rode circuit with Mr. Lincoln, tells the following story:

“At night, as a rule, the lawyers spent awhile in the parlor, and permitted the women who happened to be along to sit with them. But after half an hour or so we would notice it was time for us to leave them. I remember traveling the circuit one season when the young wife of one of the lawyers was with him. The place was so crowded that she and I were made to sleep together. When the time came for banishing us from the parlor, we went up to our room and sat there till bed-time, listening to the roars that followed each ether swiftly while those lawyers down-stairs told stoties and laughed till the rafters rang.

“In the morning Mr. Lincoln said to me: ‘Rose, did we disturb your sleep last night?’ I answered, ‘No, I had no sleep’–which was not entirely true but the retort amused him. Then the young lawyer’s wife complained to him that we were not fairly used. We came along with them, young women, and when they were having the best time we were sent away like children to go to bed in the dark.

“‘But, Madame,’ said Mr. Lincoln, ‘you would not enjoy the things we laugh at.’ And then he entered into a discussion on what have been termed his ‘broad’ stories. He deplored the fact that men seemed to remember them longer and with less effort than any others.

“My father said: ‘But, Lincoln, I don’t remember the “broad” part of your stories so much as I do the moral that is in them,’ and it was a thing in which they were all agreed.”


When President Lincoln heard of the Confederate raid at Fairfax, in which a brigadier-general and a number of valuable horses were captured, he gravely observed:

“Well, I am sorry for the horses.”

“Sorry for the horses, Mr. President!” exclaimed the Secretary of War, raising his spectacles and throwing himself back in his chair in astonishment.

“Yes,” replied Mr., Lincoln, “I can make a brigadier-general in five minutes, but it is not easy to replace a hundred and ten horses.”


Dr. Jerome Walker, of Brooklyn, told how Mr. Lincoln once administered to him a mild rebuke. The doctor was showing Mr. Lincoln through the hospital at City Point.

“Finally, after visiting the wards occupied by our invalid and convalescing soldiers,” said Dr. Walker, “we came to three wards occupied by sick and wounded Southern prisoners. With a feeling of patriotic duty, I said: ‘Mr. President, you won’t want to go in there; they are only rebels.’

“I will never forget how he stopped and gently laid his large hand upon my shoulder and quietly answered, ‘You mean Confederates!’ And I have meant Confederates ever since.

“There was nothing left for me to do after the President’s remark but to go with him through these three wards; and I could not see but that he was just as kind, his hand-shakings just as hearty, his interest just as real for the welfare of the men, as when he was among our own soldiers.”


“Old Pap,” as the soldiers called General George H. Thomas, was aggravatingly slow at a time when the President wanted him to “get a move on”; in fact, the gallant “Rock of Chickamauga” was evidently entered in a snail-race.

“Some of my generals are so slow,” regretfully remarked Lincoln one day, “that molasses in the coldest days of winter is a race horse compared to them.

“They’re brave enough, but somehow or other they get fastened in a fence corner, and can’t figure their way out.”


Joseph Medill, for many years editor of the Chicago Tribune, not long before his death, told the following story regarding the “talking to” President Lincoln gave himself and two other Chicago gentlemen who went to Washington to see about reducing Chicago’s quota of troops after the call for extra men was made by the President in 1864:

“In 1864, when the call for extra troops came, Chicago revolted. She had already sent 22,000 troops up to that time, and was drained. When the call came there were no young men to go, and no aliens except what were bought. The citizens held a mass meeting and appointed three persons, of whom I was one, to go to Washington and ask Stanton to give Cook County a new enrollment. “On reaching Washington, we went to Stanton with our statement. He refused entirely to give us the desired aid. Then we went to Lincoln. ‘I cannot do it,’ he said, ‘but I will go with you to the War Department, and Stanton and I will hear both sides.’

“So we all went over to the War Department together. Stanton and General Frye were there, and they, of course, contended that the quota should not be changed. The argument went on for some time, and was finally referred to Lincoln, who had been sitting silently listening.

“I shall never forget how he suddenly lifted his head and turned on us a black and frowning face.

“‘Gentlemen,’ he said, in a voice full of bitterness, ‘after Boston, Chicago has been the chief instrument in bringing war on this country. The Northwest has opposed the South as New England has opposed the South. It is you who are largely responsible for making blood flow as it has.

“‘You called for war until we had it. You called for Emancipation, and I have given it to you. Whatever you have asked, you have had. Now you come here begging to be let off from the call for men, which I have made to carry out the war which you demanded. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves. I have a right to expect better things of you.

“‘Go home and raise your six thousand extra men. And you, Medill, you are acting like a coward. You and your Tribune have had more influence than any paper in the Northwest in making this war. You can influence great masses, and yet you cry to be spared at a moment when your cause is suffering. Go home and send us those men!’

“I couldn’t say anything. It was the first time I ever was whipped, and I didn’t have an answer. We all got up and went out, and when the door closed one of my colleagues said:

“‘Well, gentlemen, the old man is right. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves. Let us never say anything about this, but go home and raise the men.’

“And we did–six thousand men–making twenty-eight thousand in the War from a city of one hundred and fifty-six thousand. But there might have been crape on every door, almost, in Chicago, for every family had lost a son or a husband. I lost two brothers. It was hard for the mothers.”


In 1862 a delegation of New York millionaires waited upon President Lincoln to request that he furnish a gunboat for the protection of New York harbor.

Mr. Lincoln, after listening patiently, said: “Gentlemen, the credit of the Government is at a very low ebb; greenbacks are not worth more than forty or fifty cents on the dollar; it is impossible for me, in the present condition of things, to furnish you a gunboat, and, in this condition of things, if I was worth half as much as you, gentlemen, are represented to be, and as badly frightened as you seem to be, I would build a gunboat and give it to the Government.”


President Lincoln’s sense of duty to the country, together with his keen judgment of men, often led to the appointment of persons unfriendly to him. Some of these appointees were, as well, not loyal to the National Government, for that matter.

Regarding Secretary of War Stanton’s attitude toward Lincoln, Colonel A. K. McClure, who was very close to President Lincoln, said:

“After Stanton’s retirement from the Buchanan Cabinet when Lincoln was inaugurated, he maintained the closest confidential relations with Buchanan, and wrote him many letters expressing the utmost contempt for Lincoln, the Cabinet, the Republican Congress, and the general policy of the Administration.

“These letters speak freely of the ‘painful imbecility of Lincoln,’ of the ‘venality and corruption’ which ran riot in the government, and expressed the belief that no better condition of things was possible ‘until Jeff Davis turns out the whole concern.’

“He was firmly impressed for some weeks after the battle of Bull Run that the government was utterly overthrown, as he repeatedly refers to the coming of Davis into the National Capital.

“In one letter he says that ‘in less than thirty days Davis will be in possession of Washington;’ and it is an open secret that Stanton advised the revolutionary overthrow of the Lincoln government, to be replaced by General McClellan as military dictator. These letters, bad as they are, are not the worst letters written by Stanton to Buchanan. Some of them were so violent in their expressions against Lincoln and the administration that they have been charitably withheld from the public, but they remain in the possession of the surviving relatives of President Buchanan.

“Of course, Lincoln had no knowledge of the bitterness exhibited by Stanton to himself personally and to his administration, but if he had known the worst that Stanton ever said or wrote about him, I doubt not that he would have called him to the Cabinet in January, 1862. The disasters the army suffered made Lincoln forgetful of everything but the single duty of suppressing the rebellion.

“Lincoln was not long in discovering that in his new Secretary of War he had an invaluable but most troublesome Cabinet officer, but he saw only the great and good offices that Stanton was performing for the imperilled Republic.

“Confidence was restored in financial circles by the appointment of Stanton, and his name as War Minister did more to strengthen the faith of the people in the government credit than would have been probable from the appointment of any other man of that day.

“He was a terror to all the hordes of jobbers and speculators and camp-followers whose appetites had been whetted by a great war, and he enforced the strictest discipline throughout our armies.

“He was seldom capable of being civil to any officer away from the army on leave of absence unless he had been summoned by the government for conference or special duty, and he issued the strictest orders from time to time to drive the throng of military idlers from the capital and keep them at their posts. He was stern to savagery in his enforcement of military law. The wearied sentinel who slept at his post found no mercy in the heart of Stanton, and many times did Lincoln’s humanity overrule his fiery minister.

“Any neglect of military duty was sure of the swiftest punishment, and seldom did he make even just allowance for inevitable military disaster. He had profound, unfaltering faith in the Union cause, and, above all, he had unfaltering faith in himself.

“He believed that he was in all things except in name Commander-in-Chief of the armies and the navy of the nation, and it was with unconcealed reluctance that he at times deferred to the authority of the President.”


In one of his political speeches, Judge Douglas made use of the following figure of speech: “As between the crocodile and the negro, I take the side of the negro; but as between the negro and the white man–I would go for the white man every time.”

Lincoln, at home, noted that; and afterwards, when he had occasion to refer to the remark, he said: “I believe that this is a sort of proposition in proportion, which may be stated thus: ‘As the negro is to the white man, so is the crocodile to the negro; and as the negro may rightfully treat the crocodile as a beast or reptile, so the white man may rightfully treat the negro as a beast or reptile.'”


On one occasion, Colonel Baker was speaking in a court-house, which had been a storehouse, and, on making some remarks that were offensive to certain political rowdies in the crowd, they cried: “Take him off the stand!”

Immediate confusion followed, and there was an attempt to carry the demand into execution. Directly over the speaker’s head was an old skylight, at which it appeared Mr. Lincoln had been listening to the speech. In an instant, Mr. Lincoln’s feet came through the skylight, followed by his tall and sinewy frame, and he was standing by Colonel Baker’s side. He raised his hand and the assembly subsided into silence. “Gentlemen,” said Mr. Lincoln, “let us not disgrace the age and country in which we live. This is a land where freedom of speech is guaranteed. Mr. Baker has a right to speak, and ought to be permitted to do so. I am here to protect him, and no man shall take him from this stand if I can prevent it.” The suddenness of his appearance, his perfect calmness and fairness, and the knowledge that he would do what he had promised to do, quieted all disturbance, and the speaker concluded his remarks without difficulty.


Two young men called on the President from Springfield, Illinois. Lincoln shook hands with them, and asked about the crops, the weather, etc.

Finally one of the young men said, “Mother is not well, and she sent me up to inquire of you how the suit about the Wells property is getting on.”

Lincoln, in the same even tone with which he had asked the question, said: “Give my best wishes and respects to your mother, and tell her I have so many outside matters to attend to now that I have put that case, and others, in the hands of a lawyer friend of mine, and if you will call on him (giving name and address) he will give you the information you want.”

After they had gone, a friend, who was present, said: “Mr. Lincoln, you did not seem to know the young men?”

He laughed and replied: “No, I had never seen them before, and I had to beat around the bush until I found who they were. It was up-hill work, but I topped it at last.”


President Lincoln wrote to General Hooker on June 5, 1863, warning Hooker not to run any risk of being entangled on the Rappahannock “like an ox jumped half over a fence and liable to be torn by dogs, front and rear, without a fair chance to give one way or kick the other.” On the l0th he warned Hooker not to go south of the Rappahannock upon Lee’s moving north of it. “I think Lee’s army and not Richmond is your true objective power. If he comes toward the upper Potomac, follow on his flank, and on the inside track, shortening your lines while he lengthens his. Fight him, too, when opportunity offers. If he stay where he is, fret him, and fret him.”

On the 14th again he says: “So far as we can make out here, the enemy have Milroy surrounded at Winchester, and Tyler at Martinsburg. If they could hold out for a few days, could you help them? If the head of Lee’s army is at Martinsburg, and the tail of it on the flank road between Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, the animal must be very slim somewhere; could you not break him?”


In the issue of London “Punch” of September 24th, 1864, President Lincoln is pictured as sitting at a table in his law office, while in a chair to his tight is a client, Mrs. North. The latter is a fine client for any attorney to have on his list, being wealthy and liberal, but as the lady is giving her counsel, who has represented her in a legal way for four years, notice that she proposes to put her legal business in the hands of another lawyer, the dejected look upon the face of Attorney Lincoln is easily accounted for. “Punch” puts these words in the lady’s mouth:

MRS. NORTH: “You see, Mr. Lincoln, we have failed utterly in our course of action; I want peace, and so, if you cannot effect an amicable arrangement, I must put the case into other hands.”

In this cartoon, “Punch” merely reflected the idea, or sentiment, current in England in 1864, that the North was much dissatisfied with the War policy of President Lincoln; and would surely elect General McClellan to succeed the Westerner in the White House. At the election McClellan carried but one Northern State–New Jersey, where he was born–President Lincoln sweeping the country like a prairie fire.

“Punch” had evidently been deceived by some bold, bad man, who wanted a little spending money, and sold the prediction to the funny journal with a certificate of character attached, written by–possibly–a member of the Horse Marines. “Punch,” was very much disgusted to find that its credulity and faith in mankind had been so imposed upon, especially when the election returns showed that “the-War-is-a-failure” candidate ran so slowly that Lincoln passed him as easily as though the Democratic nominee was tied to a post.


In the far-away days when “Abe” went to school in Indiana, they had exercises, exhibitions and speaking-meetings in the schoolhouse or the church, and “Abe” was the “star.” His father was a Democrat, and at that time “Abe” agreed with his parent. He would frequently make political and other speeches to the boys and explain tangled questions.

Booneville was the county seat of Warrick county, situated about fifteen miles from Gentryville. Thither “Abe” walked to be present at the sittings of the court, and listened attentively to the trials and the speeches of the lawyers.

One of the trials was that of a murderer. He was defended by Mr. John Breckinridge, and at the conclusion of his speech “Abe” was so enthusiastic that he ventured to compliment him. Breckinridge looked at the shabby boy, thanked him, and passed on his way.

Many years afterwards, in 1862, Breckinridge called on the President, and he was told, “It was the best speech that I, up to that time, had ever heard. If I could, as I then thought, make as good a speech as that, my soul would be satisfied.”


Mr. Alcott, of Elgin, Ill., tells of seeing Mr. Lincoln coming away from church unusually early one Sunday morning. “The sermon could not have been more than half way through,” says Mr. Alcott. “‘Tad’ was slung across his left arm like a pair of saddlebags, and Mr. Lincoln was striding along with long, deliberate steps toward his home. On one of the street corners he encountered a group of his fellow-townsmen. Mr. Lincoln anticipated the question which was about to be put by the group, and, taking his figure of speech from practices with which they were only too familiar, said: ‘Gentlemen, I entered this colt, but he kicked around so I had to withdraw him.”‘


No matter who was with the President, or how intently absorbed, his little son “Tad” was always welcome. He almost always accompanied his father.

Once, on the way to Fortress Monroe, he became very troublesome. The President was much engaged in conversation with the party who accompanied him, and he at length said:

“‘Tad,’ if you will be a good boy, and not disturb me any more until we get to Fortress Monroe, I will give you a dollar.”

The hope of reward was effectual for awhile in securing silence, but, boylike, “Tad” soon forgot his promise, and was as noisy as ever. Upon reaching their destination, however, he said, very promptly: “Father, I want my dollar.” Mr. Lincoln looked at him half-reproachfully for an instant, and then, taking from his pocketbook a dollar note, he said “Well, my son, at any rate, I will keep my part of the bargain.”


Henry J. Raymond, the famous New York editor, thus tells of Mr. Lincoln’s fondness for the Nasby letters:

“It has been well said by a profound critic of Shakespeare, and it occurs to me as very appropriate in this connection, that the spirit which held the woe of Lear and the tragedy of “Hamlet” would have broken had it not also had the humor of the “Merry Wives of Windsor” and the merriment of the “Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

“This is as true of Mr. Lincoln as it was of Shakespeare. The capacity to tell and enjoy a good anecdote no doubt prolonged his life.

“The Saturday evening before he left Washington to go to the front, just previous to the capture of Richmond, I was with him from seven o’clock till nearly twelve. It had been one of his most trying days. The pressure of office-seekers was greater at this juncture than I ever knew it to be, and he was almost worn out.

“Among the callers that evening was a party composed of two Senators, a Representative, an ex-Lieutenant-Governor of a Western State, and several private citizens. They had business of great importance, involving the necessity of the President’s examination of voluminous documents. Pushing everything aside, he said to one of the party:

“‘Have you seen the Nasby papers?’

“‘No, I have not,’ was the reply; ‘who is Nasby?’

“‘There is a chap out in Ohio,’ returned the President, ‘who has been writing a series of letters in the newspapers over the signature of Petroleum V. Nasby. Some one sent me a pamphlet collection of them the other day. I am going to write to “Petroleum” to come down here, and I intend to tell him if he will communicate his talent to me, I will swap places with him!’

“Thereupon he arose, went to a drawer in his desk, and, taking out the ‘Letters,’ sat down and read one to the company, finding in their enjoyment of it the temporary excitement and relief which another man would have found in a glass of wine. The instant he had ceased, the book was thrown aside, his countenance relapsed into its habitual serious expression, and the business was entered upon with the utmost earnestness.”


On the occasion of a serenade, the President was called for by the crowd assembled. He appeared at a window with his wife (who was somewhat below the medium height), and made the following “brief remarks”:

“Here I am, and here is Mrs. Lincoln. That’s the long and the short of it.”


Some gentlemen were once finding fault with the President because certain generals were not given commands.

“The fact is,” replied President Lincoln, “I have got more pegs than I have holes to put them in.”


Lincoln “got even” with the Illinois Central Railroad Company, in 1855, in a most substantial way, at the same time secured sweet revenge for an insult, unwarranted in every way, put upon him by one of the officials of that corporation.

Lincoln and Herndon defended the Illinois Central Railroad in an action brought by McLean County, Illinois, in August, 1853, to recover taxes alleged to be due the county from the road. The Legislature had granted the road immunity from taxation, and this was a case intended to test the constitutionality of the law. The road sent a retainer fee of $250.

In the lower court the case was decided in favor of the railroad. An appeal to the Supreme Court followed, was argued twice, and finally decided in favor of the road. This last decision was rendered some time in 1855. Lincoln then went to Chicago and presented the bill for legal services. Lincoln and Herndon only asked for $2,000 more.

The official to whom he was referred, after looking at the bill, expressed great surprise.

“Why, sir,” he exclaimed, “this is as much as Daniel Webster himself would have charged. We cannot allow such a claim.”

“Why not?” asked Lincoln.

“We could have hired first-class lawyers at that figure,” was the response.

“We won the case, didn’t we?” queried Lincoln.

“Certainly,” replied the official.

“Daniel Webster, then,” retorted Lincoln in no amiable tone, “couldn’t have done more,” and “Abe” walked out of the official’s office.

Lincoln withdrew the bill, and started for home. On the way he stopped at Bloomington, where he met Grant Goodrich, Archibald Williams, Norman B. Judd, O. H. Browning, and other attorneys, who, on learning of his modest charge for the valuable services rendered the railroad, induced him to increase the demand to $5,000, and to bring suit for that sum.

This was done at once. On the trial six lawyers certified that the bill was reasonable, and judgment for that sum went by default; the judgment was promptly paid, and, of course, his partner, Herndon, got “your half Billy,” without delay.


When a member of Congress, Lincoln went to Lexington, Kentucky, to hear Henry Clay speak. The Westerner, a Kentuckian by birth, and destined to reach the great goal Clay had so often sought, wanted to meet the “Millboy of the Slashes.” The address was a tame affair, as was the personal greeting when Lincoln made himself known. Clay was courteous, but cold. He may never have heard of the man, then in his presence, who was to secure, without solicitation, the prize which he for many years had unsuccessfully sought. Lincoln was disenchanted; his ideal was shattered. One reason why Clay had not realized his ambition had become apparent.

Clay was cool and dignified; Lincoln was cordial and hearty. Clay’s hand was bloodless and frosty, with no vigorous grip in it; Lincoln’s was warm, and its clasp was expressive of kindliness and sympathy.


President Lincoln had a little joke at the expense of General George B. McClellan, the Democratic candidate for the Presidency in opposition to the Westerner in 1864. McClellan was nominated by the Democratic National Convention, which assembled at Chicago, but after he had been named, and also during the campaign, the military candidate was characteristically slow in coming to the front.

President Lincoln had his eye upon every move made by General McClellan during the campaign, and when reference was made one day, in his presence, to the deliberation and caution of the New Jerseyite, Mr. Lincoln remarked, with a twinkle in his eye, “Perhaps he is intrenching.”

The cartoon we reproduce appeared in “Harper’s Weekly,” September 17th, 1864, and shows General McClellan, with his little spade in hand, being subjected to the scrutiny of the President–the man who gave McClellan, when the latter was Commander-in-Chief of the Union forces, every opportunity in the world to distinguish himself. There is a smile on the face of “Honest Abe,” which shows conclusively that he does not regard his political opponent as likely to prove formidable in any way. President Lincoln “sized up” McClellan in 1861-2, and knew, to a fraction, how much of a man he was, what he could do, and how he went about doing it. McClellan was no politician, while the President was the shrewdest of political diplomats.


When Washington had become an armed camp, and full of soldiers, President Lincoln and his Cabinet officers drove daily to one or another of these camps. Very often his outing for the day was attending some ceremony incident to camp life: a military funeral, a camp wedding, a review, a flag-raising. He did not often make speeches. “I have made a great many poor speeches,” he said one day, in excusing himself, “and I now feel relieved that my dignity does not permit me to be a public speaker.”


Judge Kelly, of Pennsylvania, who was one of the committee to advise Lincoln of his nomination, and who was himself a great many feet high, had been eyeing Lincoln’s lofty form with a mixture of admiration and possibly jealousy.

This had not escaped Lincoln, and as he shook hands with the judge he inquired, “What is your height?”

“Six feet three. What is yours, Mr. Lincoln?”

“Six feet four.”

“Then,” said the judge, “Pennsylvania bows to Illinois. My dear man, for years my heart has been aching for a President that I could look up to, and I’ve at last found him.”


Mr. Jeriah Bonham, in describing a visit he paid Lincoln at his room in the State House at Springfield, where he found him quite alone, except that two of his children, one of whom was “Tad,” were with him.

“The door was open.

“We walked in and were at once recognized and seated–the two boys
still continuing their play about the room. “Tad” was spinning his top; and Lincoln, as we entered, had just finished adjusting the string for him so as to give the top the greatest degree of force. He remarked that he was having a little fun with the boys.”

At another time, at Lincoln’s residence, “Tad” came into the room, and, putting his hand to his mouth, and his mouth to his father’s ear, said, in a boy’s whisper: “Ma says come to supper.”

All heard the announcement; and Lincoln, perceiving this, said: “You have heard, gentlemen, the announcement concerning the interesting state of things in the dining-room. It will never do for me, if elected, to make this young man a member of my Cabinet, for it is plain he cannot be trusted with secrets of state.”


A Union general, operating with his command in West Virginia, allowed himself and his men to be trapped, and it was feared his force would be captured by the Confederates. The President heard the report read by the operator, as it came over the wire, and remarked:

“Once there was a man out West who was ‘heading’ a barrel, as they used to call it. He worked like a good fellow in driving down the hoops, but just about the time he thought he had the job done, the head would fall in. Then he had to do the work all over again.

“All at once a bright idea entered his brain, and he wondered how it was he hadn’t figured it out before. His boy, a bright, smart lad, was standing by,very much interested in the business, and, lifting the young one up, he put him inside the barrel, telling him to hold the head in its proper place, while he pounded down the hoops on the sides. This worked like a charm, and he soon had the ‘heading’ done.

“Then he realized that his boy was inside the barrel, and how to get him out he couldn’t for his life figure out. General Blank is now inside the barrel, ‘headed in,’ and the job now is to get him out.”


Government Printer Defrees, when one of the President’s messages was being printed, was a good deal disturbed by the use of the term “sugar-coated,” and finally went to Mr. Lincoln about it.

Their relations to each other being of the most intimate character, he told the President frankly that he ought to remember that a message to Congress was a different affair from a speech at a mass meeting in Illinois; that the messages became a part of history, and should be written accordingly.

“What is the matter now?” inquired the President.

“Why,” said Defrees, “you have used an undignified expression in the message”; and, reading the paragraph aloud, he added, “I would alter the structure of that, if I were you.”

“Defrees,” replied the President, “that word expresses exactly my idea, and I am not going to change it. The time will never come in this country when people won’t know exactly what ‘sugar-coated’ means.”


When a grocery clerk at New Salem, the annual election came around. A Mr. Graham was clerk, but his assistant was absent, and it was necessary to find a man to fill his place. Lincoln, a “tall young man,” had already concentrated on himself the attention of the people of the town, and Graham easily discovered him. Asking him if he could write, “Abe” modestly replied, “I can make a few rabbit-tracks.” His rabbit-tracks proving to be legible and even graceful, he was employed.

The voters soon discovered that the new assistant clerk was honest and fair, and performed his duties satisfactorily, and when, the work done, he began to “entertain them with stories,” they found that their town had made a valuable personal and social acquisition.


Marshal Ward Lamon was in President Lincoln’s office in the White House one day, and casually asked the President if he knew how the currency of the country was made. Greenbacks were then under full headway of circulation, these bits of paper being the representatives of United State money.

“Our currency,” was the President’s answer, “is made, as the lawyers would put it, in their legal way, in the following manner, to-wit: The official engraver strikes off the sheets, passes them over to the Register of the Currency, who, after placing his earmarks upon them, signs the same; the Register turns them over to old Father Spinner, who proceeds to embellish them with his wonderful signature at the bottom; Father Spinner sends them to Secretary of the Treasury Chase, and he, as a final act in the matter, issues them to the public as money–and may the good Lord help any fellow that doesn’t take all he can honestly get of them!”

Taking from his pocket a $5 greenback, with a twinkle in his eye, the President then said: “Look at Spinner’s signature! Was there ever anything like it on earth? Yet it is unmistakable; no one will ever be able to counterfeit it!”

Lamon then goes on to say:

“‘But,’ I said, ‘you certainly don’t suppose that Spinner actually wrote his name on that bill, do you?’

“‘Certainly, I do; why not?’ queried Mr. Lincoln.

“I then asked, ‘How much of this currency have we afloat?’

“He remained thoughtful for a moment, and then stated the amount.

“I continued: ‘How many times do you think a man can write a signature like Spinner’s in the course of twenty-four hours?’

“The beam of hilarity left the countenance of the President at once. He put the greenback into his vest pocket, and walked the floor; after awhile he stopped, heaved a long breath and said: ‘This thing frightens me!’ He then rang for a messenger and told him to ask the Secretary of the Treasury to please come over to see him.

“Mr. Chase soon put in an appearance; President Lincoln stated the cause of his alarm, and asked Mr. Chase to explain in detail the operations, methods, system of checks, etc., in his office, and a lengthy discussion followed, President Lincoln contending there were not sufficient safeguards afforded in any degree in the money-making department, and Secretary Chase insisting that every protection was afforded he could devise.”

Afterward the President called the attention of Congress to this important question, and devices were adopted whereby a check was put upon the issue of greenbacks that no spurious ones ever came out of the Treasury Department, at least. Counterfeiters were busy, though, but this was not the fault of the Treasury.


“General Grant is a copious worker and fighter,” President Lincoln wrote to General Burnside in July, 1863, “but a meagre writer or telegrapher.”

Grant never wrote a report until the battle was over.

President Lincoln wrote a letter to General Grant on July 13th, 1863, which indicated the strength of the hold the successful fighter had upon the man in the White House.

It ran as follows:

“I do not remember that you and I ever met personally.

“I write this now as a grateful acknowledgment for the almost inestimable service you have done the country.

“I write to say a word further.

“When you first reached the vicinity of Vicksburg, I thought you should do what you finally did–march the troops across the neck, run the batteries with the transports, and thus go below; and I never had any faith, except a general hope, that you knew better than I, that the Yazoo Pass expedition, and the like, could succeed.

“When you got below and took Port Gibson, Grand Gulf and vicinity, I thought you should go down the river and join General Banks; and when you turned northward, east of Big Black, I feared it was a mistake.

“I now wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right and I was wrong.”


Lincoln never used profanity, except when he quoted it to illustrate a point in a story. His favorite expressions when he spoke with emphasis were “By dear!” and “By jing!”

Just preceding the Civil War he sent Ward Lamon on a ticklish mission to South Carolina.

When the proposed trip was mentioned to Secretary Seward, he opposed it, saying, “Mr. President, I fear you are sending Lamon to his grave. I am afraid they will kill him in Charleston, where the people are excited and desperate. We can’t spare Lamon, and we shall feel badly if anything happens to him.”

Mr. Lincoln said in reply: “I have known Lamon to be in many a close place, and he has never, been in one that he didn’t get out of, somehow. By jing! I’ll risk him. Go ahead, Lamon, and God bless you! If you can’t bring back any good news, bring a palmetto.” Lamon brought back a palmetto branch, but no promise of peace.


Lincoln had been in the telegraph office at Springfield during the casting of the first and second ballots in the Republican National Convention at Chicago, and then left and went over to the office of the State Journal, where he was sitting conversing with friends while the third ballot was being taken.

In a few moments came across the wires the announcement of the result. The superintendent of the telegraph company wrote on a scrap of paper: “Mr. Lincoln, you are nominated on the third ballot,” and a boy ran with the message to Lincoln.

He looked at it in silence, amid the shouts of those around him; then rising and putting it in his pocket, he said quietly: “There’s a little woman down at our house would like to hear this; I’ll go down and tell her.”


After Lincoln had finished that celebrated speech in “Egypt” (as a section of Southern Illinois was formerly designated), in the course of which he seized Congressman Ficklin by the coat collar and shook him fiercely, he apologized. In return, Ficklin said Lincoln had “nearly shaken the Democracy out of him.” To this Lincoln replied:

“That reminds me of what Paul said to Agrippa, which, in language