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  • 1900
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General McClellan, aside from his lack of aggressiveness, fretted the President greatly with his complaints about military matters, his obtrusive criticism regarding political matters, and especially at his insulting declaration to the Secretary of War, dated June 28th, 1862, just after his retreat to the James River.

General Halleck was made Commander-in-Chief of the Union forces in July, 1862, and September 1st McClellan was called to Washington. The day before he had written his wife that “as a matter of self-respect, I cannot go there.” President Lincoln and General Halleck called at McClellan’s house, and the President said: “As a favor to me, I wish you would take command of the fortifications of Washington and all the troops for the defense of the capital.”

Lincoln thought highly of McClellan’s ability as an organizer and his strength in defense, yet any other President would have had him court-martialed for using this language, which appeared in McClellan’s letter of June 28th:

“If I save this army now, I tell you plainly that I owe no thanks to you or to any other person in Washington. You have done your best to sacrifice this army.”

This letter, although addressed to the Secretary of War, distinctly embraced the President in the grave charge of conspiracy to defeat McClellan’s army and sacrifice thousands of the lives of his soldiers.


Lincoln was averse to being put up as a military hero.

When General Cass was a candidate for the Presidency his friends sought to endow him with a military reputation.

Lincoln, at that time a representative in Congress, delivered a speech before the House, which, in its allusion to Mr. Cass, was exquisitely sarcastic and irresistibly humorous:

“By the way, Mr. Speaker,” said Lincoln, “do you know I am a military hero?

“Yes, sir, in the days of the Black Hawk War, I fought, bled, and came away.

“Speaking of General Cass’s career reminds me of my own.

“I was not at Stillman’s defeat, but I was about as near it as Cass to Hull’s surrender; and like him I saw the place very soon afterwards.

“It is quite certain I did not break my sword, for I had none to break, but I bent my musket pretty badly on one occasion.

“If General Cass went in advance of me picking whortleberries, I guess I surpassed him in charging upon the wild onion.

“If he saw any live, fighting Indians, it was more than I did, but I had a good many bloody struggles with the mosquitoes, and although I never fainted from loss of blood, I can truly say that I was often very hungry.”

Lincoln concluded by saying that if he ever turned Democrat and should run for the Presidency, he hoped they would not make fun of him by attempting to make him a military hero.


About March, 1862, General Benjamin F. Butler, in command at Fortress Monroe, advised President Lincoln that he had determined to regard all slaves coming into his camps as contraband of war, and to employ their labor under fair compensation, and Secretary of War Stanton replied to him, in behalf of the President, approving his course, and saying, “You are not to interfere between master and slave on the one hand, nor surrender slaves who may come within your lines.”

This was a significant milestone of progress to the great end that was thereafter to be reached.


Mr. Lincoln being found fault with for making another “call,” said that if the country required it, he would continue to do so until the matter stood as described by a Western provost marshal, who says:

“I listened a short time since to a butternut-clad individual, who succeeded in making good his escape, expatiate most eloquently on the rigidness with which the conscription was enforced south of the Tennessee River. His response to a question propounded by a citizen ran somewhat in this wise:

“‘Do they conscript close over the river?’

“‘Stranger, I should think they did! They take every man who hasn’t been dead more than two days!’

“If this is correct, the Confederacy has at least a ghost of a chance left.”

And of another, a Methodist minister in Kansas, living on a small salary, who was greatly troubled to get his quarterly instalment. He at last told the non-paying trustees that he must have his money, as he was suffering for the necessaries of life.

“Money!” replied the trustees; “you preach for money? We thought you preached for the good of souls!”

“Souls!” responded the reverend; “I can’t eat souls; and if I could it would take a thousand such as yours to make a meal!”

“That soul is the point, sir,” said the President.


On February 5th, 1865, President Lincoln formulated a message to Congress, proposing the payment of $400,000,000 to the South as compensation for slaves lost by emancipation, and submitted it to his Cabinet, only to be unanimously rejected.

Lincoln sadly accepted the decision, and filed away the manuscript message, together with this indorsement thereon, to which his signature was added: “February 5, 1865. To-day these papers, which explain themselves, were drawn up and submitted to the Cabinet unanimously disapproved by them.”

When the proposed message was disapproved, Lincoln soberly asked: “How long will the war last?”

To this none could make answer, and he added: “We are spending now, in carrying on the war, $3,000,000 a day, which will amount to all this money, besides all the lives.”


In his youth, Mr. Lincoln once got an idea for a thrilling, romantic story. One day, in Springfield, he was sitting with his feet on the window sill, chatting with an acquaintance, when he suddenly changed the drift of the conversation by saying: “Did you ever write out a story in your mind? I did when I was a little codger. One day a wagon with a lady and two girls and a man broke down near us, and while they were fixing up, they cooked in our kitchen. The woman had books and read us stories, and they were the first I had ever heard. I took a great fancy to one of the girls; and when they were gone I thought of her a great deal, and one day when I was sitting out in the sun by the house I wrote out a story in my mind. I thought I took my father’s horse and followed the wagon, and finally I found it, and they were surprised to see me. I talked with the girl, and persuaded her to elope with me; and that night I put her on my horse, and we started off across the prairie. After several hours we came to a camp; and when we rode up we found it was the one we had left a few hours before, and went in. The next night we tried again, and the same thing happened–the horse came back to the same place; and then we concluded that we ought not to elope. I stayed until I had persuaded her father to give her to me. I always meant to write that story out and publish it, and I began once; but I concluded that it was not much of a story. But I think that was the beginning of love with me.”


Lincoln’s reply to a Springfield (Illinois) clergyman, who asked him what was to be his policy on the slavery question was most apt:

“Well, your question is rather a cool one, but I will answer it by telling you a story:

“You know Father B., the old Methodist preacher? and you know Fox River and its freshets?

“Well, once in the presence of Father B., a young Methodist was worrying about Fox River, and expressing fears that he should be prevented from fulfilling some of his appointments by a freshet in the river.

“Father B. checked him in his gravest manner. Said he:

“‘Young man, I have always made it a rule in my life not to cross Fox River till I get to it.’

“And,” said the President, “I am not going to worry myself over the slavery question till I get to it.”

A few days afterward a Methodist minister called on the President, and on being presented to him, said, simply:

“Mr. President, I have come to tell you that I think we have got to Fox River!”

Lincoln thanked the clergyman, and laughed heartily.


The day of Lincoln’s second nomination for the Presidency he forgot all about the Republican National Convention, sitting at Baltimore, and wandered over to the War Department. While there, a telegram came announcing the nomination of Johnson as Vice-President.

“What,” said Lincoln to the operator, “do they nominate a Vice-President before they do a President?”

“Why,” replied the astonished official, “have you not heard of your own nomination? It was sent to the White House two hours ago.”

“It is all right,” replied the President; “I shall probably find it on my return.”


The illustrated newspapers of the United States and England had a good deal of fun, not only with President Lincoln, but the latter’s Cabinet officers and military commanders as well. It was said by these funny publications that the President had set up a guillotine in his “back-yard,” where all those who offended were beheaded with both neatness, and despatch. “Harper’s Weekly” of January 3rd, 1863, contained a cartoon labeled “Those Guillotines; a Little Incident at the White House,” the personages figuring in the “incident” being Secretary of War Stanton and a Union general who had been unfortunate enough to lose a battle to the Confederates. Beneath the cartoon was the following dialogue:

SERVANT: “If ye plase, sir, them Gilliteens has arrove.” MR. LINCOLN: “All right, Michael. Now, gentlemen, will you be kind
enough to step out in the back-yard?”

The hair and whiskers of Secretary of War Stanton are ruffled and awry, and his features are not calm and undisturbed, indicating that he has an idea of what’s the matter in that back-yard; the countenance of the officer in the rear of the Secretary of War wears rather an anxious, or worried, look, and his hair isn’t combed smoothly, either.

President Lincoln’s frequent changes among army commanders– before he found Grant, Sherman and Sheridan–afforded an opportunity the caricaturists did not neglect, and some very clever cartoons were the consequence.


Consider the sympathy of Abraham Lincoln. Do you know the story of William Scott, private? He was a boy from a Vermont farm.

There had been a long march, and the night succeeding it he had stood on picket. The next day there had been another long march, and that night William Scott had volunteered to stand guard in the place of a sick comrade who had been drawn for the duty.

It was too much for William Scott. He was too tired. He had been found sleeping on his beat.

The army was at Chain Bridge. It was in a dangerous neighborhood. Discipline must be kept.

William Scott was apprehended, tried by court-martial, sentenced to be shot. News of the case was carried to Lincoln. William Scott was a prisoner in his tent, expecting to be shot next day.

But the flaps of his tent were parted, and Lincoln stood before him. Scott said:

“The President was the kindest man I had ever seen; I knew him at once by a Lincoln medal I had long worn.

“I was scared at first, for I had never before talked with a great man; but Mr. Lincoln was so easy with me, so gentle, that I soon forgot my fright.

“He asked me all about the people at home, the neighbors, the farm, and where I went to school, and who my schoolmates were. Then he asked me about mother and how she looked; and I was glad I could take her photograph from my bosom and show it to him.

“He said how thankful I ought to be that my mother still lived, and how, if he were in my place, he would try to make her a proud mother, and never cause her a sorrow or a tear.

“I cannot remember it all, but every word was so kind.

“He had said nothing yet about that dreadful next morning; I thought it must be that he was so kind-hearted that he didn’t like to speak of it.

“But why did he say so much about my mother, and my not causing her a sorrow or a tear, when I knew that I must die the next morning?

“But I supposed that was something that would have to go unexplained; and so I determined to brace up and tell him that I did not feel a bit guilty, and ask him wouldn’t he fix it so that the firing party would not be from our regiment.

“That was going to be the hardest of all–to die by the hands of my comrades.

“Just as I was going to ask him this favor, he stood up, and he says to me:

“‘My boy, stand up here and look me in the face.’

“I did as he bade me.

“‘My boy,’ he said, ‘you are not going to be shot to-morrow. I believe you when you tell me that you could not keep awake.

“‘I am going to trust you, and send you back to your regiment.

“‘But I have been put to a good deal of trouble on your account.

“‘I have had to come up here from Washington when I have got a great deal to do; and what I want to know is, how are you going to pay my bill?’

“There was a big lump in my throat; I could scarcely speak. I had expected to die, you see, and had kind of got used to thinking that way.

“To have it all changed in a minute! But I got it crowded down, and managed to say:

“‘I am grateful, Mr. Lincoln! I hope I am as grateful as ever a man can be to you for saving my life.

“‘But it comes upon me sudden and unexpected like. I didn’t lay out for it at all; but there is some way to pay you, and I will find it after a little.

“‘There is the bounty in the savings bank; I guess we could borrow some money on the mortgage of the farm.’

“‘There was my pay was something, and if he would wait until pay-day I was sure the boys would help; so I thought we could make it up if it wasn’t more than five or six hundred dollars.

“‘But it is a great deal more than that,’ he said.

“Then I said I didn’t just see how, but I was sure I would find some way–if I lived.

“Then Mr. Lincoln put his hands on my shoulders, and looked into my face as if he was sorry, and said; “‘My boy, my bill is a very large one. Your friends cannot pay it, nor your bounty, nor the farm, nor all your comrades!

“‘There is only one man in all the world who can pay it, and his name is William Scott!

“‘If from this day William Scott does his duty, so that, if I was there when he comes to die, he can look me in the face as he does now, and say, I have kept my promise, and I have done my duty as a soldier, then my debt will be paid.

“‘Will you make that promise and try to keep it?”

The promise was given. Thenceforward there never was such a soldier as William Scott.

This is the record of the end. It was after one of the awful battles of the Peninsula. He was shot all to pieces. He said:

“Boys, I shall never see another battle. I supposed this would be my last. I haven’t much to say.

“You all know what you can tell them at home about me.

“I have tried to do the right thing! If any of you ever have the chance I wish you would tell President Lincoln that I have never forgotten the kind words he said to me at the Chain Bridge; that I have tried to be a good soldier and true to the flag; that I should have paid my whole debt to him if I had lived; and that now, when I know that I am dying, I think of his kind face, and thank him again, because he gave me the chance to fall like a soldier in battle, and not like a coward, by the hands of my comrades.”

What wonder that Secretary Stanton said, as he gazed upon the tall form and kindly face as he lay there, smitten down by the assassin’s bullet, “There lies the most perfect ruler of men who ever lived.”


One day during the Black Hawk War a poor old Indian came into the camp with a paper of safe conduct from General Lewis Cass in his possession. The members of Lincoln’s company were greatly exasperated by late Indian barbarities, among them the horrible murder of a number of women and children, and were about to kill him; they said the safe-conduct paper was a forgery, and approached the old savage with muskets cocked to shoot him.

Lincoln rushed forward, struck up the weapons with his hands, and standing in front of the victim, declared to the Indian that he should not be killed. It was with great difficulty that the men could be kept from their purpose, but the courage and firmness of Lincoln thwarted them.

Lincoln was physically one of the bravest of men, as his company discovered.


Frank P. Blair, of Chicago, tells an incident, showing Mr. Lincoln’s love for children and how thoroughly he entered into all of their sports:

“During the war my grandfather, Francis P. Blair, Sr., lived at Silver Springs, north of Washington, seven miles from the White House. It was a magnificent place of four or five hundred acres, with an extensive lawn in the rear of the house. The grandchildren gathered there frequently.

There were eight or ten of us, our ages ranging from eight to twelve years. Although I was but seven or eight years of age, Mr. Lincoln’s visits were of such importance to us boys as to leave a clear impression on my memory. He drove out to the place quite frequently. We boys, for hours at a time played ‘town ball’ on the vast lawn, and Mr. Lincoln would join ardently in the sport. I remember vividly how he ran with the children; how long were his strides, and how far his coat-tails stuck out behind, and how we tried to hit him with the ball, as he ran the bases. He entered into the spirit of the play as completely as any of us, and we invariably hailed his coming with delight.”


A man called upon the President and solicited a pass for Richmond.

“Well,” said the President, “I would be very happy to oblige, if my passes were respected; but the fact is, sir, I have, within the past two years, given passes to two hundred and fifty thousand men to go to Richmond, and not one has got there yet.”

The applicant quietly and respectfully withdrew on his tiptoes.


A certain United States Senator, who believed that every man who believed in secession should be hanged, asked the President what he intended to do when the War was over.

“Reconstruct the machinery of this Government,” quickly replied Lincoln.

“You are certainly crazy,” was the Senator’s heated response. “You talk as if treason was not henceforth to be made odious, but that the traitors, cutthroats and authors of this War should not only go unpunished, but receive encouragement to repeat their treason with impunity! They should be hanged higher than Haman, sir! Yes, higher than any malefactor the world has ever known!”

The President was entirely unmoved, but, after a moment’s pause, put a question which all but drove his visitor insane.

“Now, Senator, suppose that when this hanging arrangement has been agreed upon, you accept the post of Chief Executioner. If you will take the office, I will make you a brigadier general and Public Hangman for the United States. That would just about suit you, wouldn’t it?”

“I am a gentleman, sir,” returned the Senator, “and I certainly thought you knew me better than to believe me capable of doing such dirty work. You are jesting, Mr. President.”

The President was extremely patient, exhibiting no signs of ire, and to this bit of temper on the part of the Senator responded:

“You speak of being a gentleman; yet you forget that in this free country all men are equal, the vagrant and the gentleman standing on the same ground when it comes to rights and duties, particularly in time of war. Therefore, being a gentleman, as you claim, and a law-abiding citizen, I trust, you are not exempt from doing even the dirty work at which your high spirit revolts.”

This was too much for the Senator, who quitted the room abruptly, and never again showed his face in the White House while Lincoln occupied it.

“He won’t bother me again,” was the President’s remark as he departed.


Lincoln was a very quiet man, and went about his business in a quiet way, making the least noise possible. He heartily disliked those boisterous people who were constantly deluging him with advice, and shouting at the tops of their voices whenever they appeared at the White House. “These noisy people create a great clamor,” said he one day, in conversation with some personal friends, “and remind me, by the way, of a good story I heard out in Illinois while I was practicing, or trying to practice, some law there. I will say, though, that I practiced more law than I ever got paid for.

“A fellow who lived just out of town, on the bank of a large marsh, conceived a big idea in the money-making line. He took it to a prominent merchant, and began to develop his plans and specifications. ‘There are at least ten million frogs in that marsh near me, an’ I’ll just arrest a couple of carloads of them and hand them over to you. You can send them to the big cities and make lots of money for both of us. Frogs’ legs are great delicacies in the big towns, an’ not very plentiful. It won’t take me more’n two or three days to pick ’em. They make so much noise my family can’t sleep, and by this deal I’ll get rid of a nuisance and gather in some cash.’

“The merchant agreed to the proposition, promised the fellow he would pay him well for the two carloads. Two days passed, then three, and finally two weeks were gone before the fellow showed up again, carrying a small basket. He looked weary and ‘done up,’ and he wasn’t talkative a bit. He threw the basket on the counter with the remark, ‘There’s your frogs.’

“‘You haven’t two carloads in that basket, have you?’ inquired the merchant.

“‘No,’ was the reply, ‘and there ain’t no two carloads in all this blasted world.’

“‘I thought you said there were at least ten millions of ’em in that marsh near you, according to the noise they made,’ observed the merchant. ‘Your people couldn’t sleep because of ’em.’

“‘Well,’ said the fellow, ‘accordin’ to the noise they made, there was, I thought, a hundred million of ’em, but when I had waded and swum that there marsh day and night fer two blessed weeks, I couldn’t harvest but six. There’s two or three left yet, an’ the marsh is as noisy as it uster be. We haven’t catched up on any of our lost sleep yet. Now, you can have these here six, an’ I won’t charge you a cent fer ’em.’

“You can see by this little yarn,” remarked the President, “that these boisterous people make too much noise in proportion to their numbers.”


Being asked one time by an “anxious” visitor as to what he would do in certain contingencies–provided the rebellion was not subdued after three or four years of effort on the part of the Government

“Oh,” replied the President, “there is no alternative but to keep ‘pegging’ away!”


After the issue of the Emancipation Proclamation, Governor Morgan, of New York, was at the White House one day, when the President said:

“I do not agree with those who say that slavery is dead. We are like whalers who have been long on a chase–we have at last got the harpoon into the monster, but we must now look how we steer, or, with one ‘flop’ of his tail, he will yet send us all into eternity!”


President Lincoln was depicted as a headsman in a cartoon printed in “Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper,” on February 14, 1863, the title of the picture being “Lincoln’s Dreams; or, There’s a Good Time Coming.”

The cartoon, reproduced here, represents, on the right, the Union Generals who had been defeated by the Confederates in battle, and had suffered decapitation in consequence–McDowell, who lost at Bull Run; McClellan, who failed to take Richmond, when within twelve miles of that city and no opposition, comparatively; and Burnside, who was so badly whipped at Fredericksburg. To the left of the block, where the President is standing with the bloody axe in his hand, are shown the members of the Cabinet–Secretary of State Seward, Secretary of War Stanton, Secretary of the Navy Welles, and others–each awaiting his turn. This part of the “Dream” was never realized, however, as the President did not decapitate any of his Cabinet officers.

It was the idea of the cartoonist to hold Lincoln up as a man who would not countenance failure upon the part of subordinates, but visit the severest punishment upon those commanders who did not win victories. After Burnside’s defeat at Fredericksburg, he was relieved by Hooker, who suffered disaster at Chancellorsville; Hooker was relieved by Meade, who won at Gettysburg, but was refused promotion because he did not follow up and crush Lee; Rosecrans was all but defeated at Chickamauga, and gave way to Grant, who, of all the Union commanders, had never suffered defeat. Grant was Lincoln’s ideal fighting man, and the “Old Commander” was never superseded.


Dr. Hovey, of Dansville, New York, thought he would call and see the President.

Upon arriving at the White House he found the President on horseback, ready for a start.

Approaching him, he said:

“President Lincoln, I thought I would call and see you before leaving the city, and hear you tell a story.”

The President greeted him pleasantly, and asked where he was from.

“From Western New York.”

“Well, that’s a good enough country without stories,” replied the President, and off he rode.


Lincoln’s habits at the White House were as simple as they were at his old home in Illinois.

He never alluded to himself as “President,” or as occupying “the Presidency.”

His office he always designated as “the place.”

“Call me Lincoln,” said he to a friend; “Mr. President” had become so very tiresome to him.

“If you see a newsboy down the street, send him up this way,” said he to a passenger, as he stood waiting for the morning news at his gate.

Friends cautioned him about exposing himself so openly in the midst of enemies; but he never heeded them.

He frequently walked the streets at night, entirely unprotected; and felt any check upon his movements a great annoyance.

He delighted to see his familiar Western friends; and he gave them always a cordial welcome.

He met them on the old footing, and fell at once into the accustomed habits of talk and story-telling.

An old acquaintance, with his wife, visited Washington. Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln proposed to these friends a ride in the Presidential carriage.

It should be stated in advance that the two men had probably never seen each other with gloves on in their lives, unless when they were used as protection from the cold.

The question of each–Lincoln at the White House, and his friend at the hotel–was, whether he should wear gloves.

Of course the ladies urged gloves; but Lincoln only put his in his pocket, to be used or not, according to the circumstances.

When the Presidential party arrived at the hotel, to take in their friends, they found the gentleman, overcome by his wife’s persuasions, very handsomely gloved.

The moment he took his seat he began to draw off the clinging kids, while Lincoln began to draw his on!

“No! no! no!” protested his friend, tugging at his gloves. “It is none of my doings; put up your gloves, Mr. Lincoln.”

So the two old friends were on even and easy terms, and had their ride after their old fashion.


President Lincoln was reading the draft of a speech. Edward, the conservative but dignified butler of the White House, was seen struggling with Tad and trying to drag him back from the window from which was waving a Confederate flag, captured in some fight and given to the boy. Edward conquered and Tad, rushing to find his father, met him coming forward to make, as it proved, his last speech.

The speech began with these words, “We meet this evening, not in sorrow, but in gladness of heart.” Having his speech written in loose leaves, and being compelled to hold a candle in the other hand, he would let the loose leaves drop to the floor one by one. “Tad” picked them up as they fell, and impatiently called for more as they fell from his father’s hand.


President Lincoln, while entertaining a few select friends, is said to have related the following anecdote of a man who knew too much:

He was a careful, painstaking fellow, who always wanted to be absolutely exact, and as a result he frequently got the ill-will of his less careful superiors.

During the administration of President Jackson there was a singular young gentleman employed in the Public Postoffice in Washington.

His name was G.; he was from Tennessee, the son of a widow, a neighbor of the President, on which account the old hero had a kind feeling for him, and always got him out of difficulties with some of the higher officials, to whom his singular interference was distasteful.

Among other things, it is said of him that while employed in the General Postoffice, on one occasion he had to copy a letter to Major H., a high official, in answer to an application made by an old gentleman in Virginia or Pennsylvania, for the establishment of a new postoffice.

The writer of the letter said the application could not be granted, in consequence of the applicant’s “proximity” to another office.

When the letter came into G.’s hand to copy, being a great stickler for plainness, he altered “proximity” to “nearness to.”

Major H. observed it, and asked G. why he altered his letter.

“Why,” replied G., “because I don’t think the man would understand what you mean by proximity.”

“Well,” said Major H., “try him; put in the ‘proximity’ again.”

In a few days a letter was received from the applicant, in which he very indignantly said that his father had fought for liberty in the second war for independence, and he should like to have the name of the scoundrel who brought the charge of proximity or anything else wrong against him.

“There,” said G., “did I not say so?”

G. carried his improvements so far that Mr. Berry, the Postmaster-General, said to him: “I don’t want you any longer; you know too much.”

Poor G. went out, but his old friend got him another place.

This time G.’s ideas underwent a change. He was one day very busy writing, when a stranger called in and asked him where the Patent Office was.

“I don’t know,” said G.

“Can you tell me where the Treasury Department is?” said the stranger. “No,” said G.

‘Nor the President’s house?”


The stranger finally asked him if he knew where the Capitol was.

“No,” replied G.

“Do you live in Washington, sir?”

“Yes, sir,” said G.

“Good Lord! and don’t you know where the Patent Office, Treasury, President’s house and Capitol are?”

“Stranger,” said G., “I was turned out of the postoffice for knowing too much. I don’t mean to offend in that way again.

“I am paid for keeping this book.

“I believe I know that much; but if you find me knowing anything more you may take my head.”

“Good morning,” said the stranger.


“That every man may receive at least a moderate education, and thereby be enabled to read the histories of his own and other countries, by which he may duly appreciate the value of our free institutions, appears to be an object of vital importance; even on this account alone, to say nothing of the advantages and satisfaction to be derived from all being able to read the Scriptures and other works, both of a religious and moral nature, for themselves.

“For my part, I desire to see the time when education, by its means, morality, sobriety, enterprise and integrity, shall become much more general than at present, and should be gratified to have it in my power to contribute something to the advancement of any measure which might have a tendency to accelerate the happy period.”


In a speech at Springfield, Illinois, June 26th, 1857, Lincoln referred to the decision of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, of the United States Supreme Court, in the Dred Scott case, in this manner:

“The Chief justice does not directly assert, but plainly assumes as a fact, that the public estimate of the black man is more favorable now than it was in the days of the Revolution.

“In those days, by common consent, the spread of the black man’s bondage in the new countries was prohibited; but now Congress decides that it will not continue the prohibition, and the Supreme Court decides that it could not if it would.

“In those days, our Declaration of Independence was held sacred by all, and thought to include all; but now, to aid in making the bondage of the negro universal and eternal, it is assailed and sneered at, and constructed and hawked at, and torn, till, if its framers could rise from their graves, they could not at all recognize it.

“All the powers of earth seem combining against the slave; Mammon is after him, ambition follows, philosophy follows, and the theology of the day is fast joining the cry.”


Abraham Lincoln made many notable addresses and speeches during his career previous to the time of his election to the Presidency.

However, beautiful in thought and expression as they were, they were not appreciated by those who heard and read them until after the people of the United States and the world had come to understand the man who delivered them.

Lincoln had the rare and valuable faculty of putting the most sublime feeling into his speeches; and he never found it necessary to incumber his wisest, wittiest and most famous sayings with a weakening mass of words.

He put his thoughts into the simplest language, so that all might comprehend, and he never said anything which was not full of the deepest meaning.


Mr. Roland Diller, who was one of Mr. Lincoln’s neighbors in Springfield, tells the following:

“I was called to the door one day by the cries of children in the street, and there was Mr. Lincoln, striding by with two of his boys, both of whom were wailing aloud. ‘Why, Mr. Lincoln, what’s the matter with the boys?’ I asked.

“‘Just what’s the matter with the whole world,’ Lincoln replied. ‘I’ve got three walnuts, and each wants two.'”


One of the prettiest incidents in the closing days of the Civil War occurred when the troops, ‘marching home again,’ passed in grand form, if with well-worn uniforms and tattered bunting, before the White House.

Naturally, an immense crowd had assembled on the streets, the lawns, porches, balconies, and windows, even those of the executive mansion itself being crowded to excess. A central figure was that of the President, Abraham Lincoln, who, with bared head, unfurled and waved our Nation’s flag in the midst of lusty cheers.

But suddenly there was an unexpected sight.

A small boy leaned forward and sent streaming to the air the banner of the boys in gray. It was an old flag which had been captured from the Confederates, and which the urchin, the President’s second son, Tad, had obtained possession of and considered an additional triumph to unfurl on this all-important day.

Vainly did the servant who had followed him to the window plead with him to desist. No, Master Tad, Pet of the White House, was not to be prevented from adding to the loyal demonstration of the hour.

To his surprise, however, the crowd viewed it differently. Had it floated from any other window in the capital that day, no doubt it would have been the target of contempt and abuse; but when the President, understanding what had happened, turned, with a smile on his grand, plain face, and showed his approval by a gesture and expression, cheer after cheer rent the air.


President Lincoln attended a Ladies’ Fair for the benefit of the Union soldiers, at Washington, March 16th, 1864.

In his remarks he said:

“I appear to say but a word.

“This extraordinary war in which we are engaged falls heavily upon all classes of people, but the most heavily upon the soldiers. For it has been said, ‘All that a man hath will he give for his life,’ and, while all contribute of their substance, the soldier puts his life at stake, and often yields it up in his country’s cause.

“The highest merit, then, is due the soldiers.

“In this extraordinary war extraordinary developments have manifested themselves such as have not been seen in former wars; and among these manifestations nothing has been more remarkable than these fairs for the relief of suffering soldiers and their families, and the chief agents in these fairs are the women of America!

“I am not accustomed to the use of language of eulogy; I have never studied the art of paying compliments to women; but I must say that if all that has been said by orators and poets since the creation of the world in praise of women were applied to the women of America, it would not do them justice for their conduct during the war.

“I will close by saying, God bless the women of America!”


After the United States had enlisted former negro slaves as soldiers to fight alongside the Northern troops for the maintenance of the integrity of the Union, so great was the indignation of the Confederate Government that President Davis declared he would not recognize blacks captured in battle and in uniform as prisoners of war. This meant that he would have them returned to their previous owners, have them flogged and fined for running away from their masters, or even shot if he felt like it. This attitude of the President of the Confederate States of America led to the promulgation of President Lincoln’s famous “Order No. 252,” which, in effect, was a notification to the commanding officers of the Southern forces that if negro prisoners of war were not treated as such, the Union commanders would retaliate. “Harper’s Weekly” of August 15th, 1863, contained a clever cartoon, which we reproduce, representing President Lincoln holding the South by the collar, while “Old Abe” shouts the following words of warning to Jeff Davis, who, cat-o’-nine-tails in hand, is in pursuit of a terrified little negro boy:

MR. LINCOLN: “Look here, Jeff Davis! If you lay a finger on that boy, to hurt him, I’ll lick this ugly cub of yours within an inch of his life!”

Much to the surprise of the Confederates, the negro soldiers fought valiantly; they were fearless when well led, obeyed orders without hesitation, were amenable to discipline, and were eager and anxious, at all times, to do their duty. In battle they were formidable opponents, and in using the bayonet were the equal of the best trained troops. The Southerners hated them beyond power of expression.


The President walked through the streets of Richmond–without a guard except a few seamen–in company with his son “Tad,” and Admiral Porter, on April 4th, 1865, the day following the evacuation of the city.

Colored people gathered about him on every side, eager to see and thank their liberator. Mr. Lincoln addressed the following remarks to one of these gatherings:

“My poor friends, you are free–free as air. You can cast off the name of slave and trample upon it; it will come to you no more.

“Liberty is your birthright. God gave it to you as He gave it to others, and it is a sin that you have been deprived of it for so many years.

“But you must try to deserve this priceless boon. Let the world see that you merit it, and are able to maintain it by your good work.

“Don’t let your joy carry you into excesses; learn the laws, and obey them. Obey God’s commandments, and thank Him for giving you liberty, for to Him you owe all things.

“There, now, let me pass on; I have but little time to spare.

“I want to see the Capitol, and must return at once to Washington to secure to you that liberty which you seem to prize so highly.”


Lincoln fell in love with Miss Mary S. Owens about 1833 or so, and, while she was attracted toward him she was not passionately fond of him.

Lincoln’s letter of proposal of marriage, sent by him to Miss Owens, while singular, unique, and decidedly unconventional, was certainly not very ardent. He, after the fashion of the lawyer, presented the matter very cautiously, and pleaded his own cause; then presented her side of the case, advised her not “to do it,” and agreed to abide by her decision.

Miss Owens respected Lincoln, but promptly rejected him–really very much to “Abe’s” relief.


Not far from New Salem, Illinois, at a place called Clary’s Grove, a gang of frontier ruffians had established headquarters, and the champion wrestler of “The Grove” was “Jack” Armstrong, a bully of the worst type.

Learning that Abraham was something of a wrestler himself, “Jack” sent him a challenge. At that time and in that community a refusal would have resulted in social and business ostracism, not to mention the stigma of cowardice which would attach.

It was a great day for New Salem and “The Grove” when Lincoln and Armstrong met. Settlers within a radius of fifty miles flocked to the scene, and the wagers laid were heavy and many. Armstrong proved a weakling in the hands of the powerful Kentuckian, and “Jack’s” adherents were about to mob Lincoln when the latter’s friends saved him from probable death by rushing to the rescue.


The President was once speaking about an attack made on him by the Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War for a certain alleged blunder in the Southwest–the matter involved being one which had fallen directly under the observation of the army officer to whom he was talking, who possessed official evidence completely upsetting all the conclusions of the Committee.

“Might it not be well for me,” queried the officer, “to set this matter right in a letter to some paper, stating the facts as they actually transpired?”

“Oh, no,” replied the President, “at least, not now. If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won’t amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten thousand angels swearing I was right would make no difference.”


Ward Hill Lamon was President Lincoln’s Cerberus, his watch dog, guardian, friend, companion and confidant. Some days before Lincoln’s departure for Washington to be inaugurated, he wrote to Lamon at Bloomington, that he desired to see him at once. He went to Springfield, and Lincoln said:

“Hill, on the 11th I go to Washington, and I want you to go along with me. Our friends have already asked me to send you as Consul to Paris. You know I would cheerfully give you anything for which our friends may ask or which you may desire, but it looks as if we might have war.

“In that case I want you with me. In fact, I must have you. So get yourself ready and come along. It will be handy to have you around. If there is to be a fight, I want you to help me to do my share of it, as you have done in times past. You must go, and go to stay.”

This is Lamon’s version of it.


To a party who wished to be empowered to negotiate reward for promises of influence in the Chicago Convention, 1860, Mr. Lincoln replied:

“No, gentlemen; I have not asked the nomination, and I will not now buy it with pledges.

“If I am nominated and elected, I shall not go into the Presidency as the tool of this man or that man, or as the property of any factor or clique.”


After some very bad news had come in from the army in the field, Lincoln remarked to Schuyler Colfax:

“How willingly would I exchange places to-day with the soldier who sleeps on the ground in the Army of the Potomac!”


In the campaign of 1852, Lincoln, in reply to Douglas’ speech, wherein he spoke of confidence in Providence, replied: “Let us stand by our candidate (General Scott) as faithfully as he has always stood by our country, and I much doubt if we do not perceive a slight abatement of Judge Douglas’ confidence in Providence as well as the people. I suspect that confidence is not more firmly fixed with the judge than it was with the old woman whose horse ran away with her in a buggy. She said she ‘trusted in Providence till the britchen broke,’ and then she ‘didn’t know what in airth to do.'”


Lincoln’s great generosity to his leaders was shown when, in January, 1863, he assigned “Fighting Joe” Hooker to the command of the Army of the Potomac. Hooker had believed in a military dictatorship, and it was an open secret that McClellan might have become such had he possessed the nerve. Lincoln, however, was not bothered by this prattle, as he did not think enough of it to relieve McClellan of his command. The President said to Hooker:

“I have heard, in such a way as to believe it, of your recently saying that both the army and the Government needed a dictator. Of course, it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have given you the command. Only those generals who gain success can be dictators.

“What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship.”

Lincoln also believed Hooker had not given cordial support to General Burnside when he was in command of the army. In Lincoln’s own peculiarly plain language, he told Hooker that he had done “a great wrong to the country and to a most meritorious and honorable brother officer.”


At one time the President had the appointment of a large additional number of brigadier and major generals. Among the immense number of applications, Mr. Lincoln came upon one wherein the claims of a certain worthy (not in the service at all), “for a generalship” were glowingly set forth. But the applicant didn’t specify whether he wanted to be brigadier or major general.

The President observed this difficulty, and solved it by a lucid indorsement. The clerk, on receiving the paper again, found written across its back, “Major General, I reckon. A. Lincoln.”


Judge Herndon, Lincoln’s law partner, said that he never saw Lincoln more cheerful than on the day previous to his departure from Springfield for Washington, and Judge Gillespie, who visited him a few days earlier, found him in excellent spirits.

“I told him that I believed it would do him good to get down to Washington,” said Herndon.

“I know it will,” Lincoln replied. “I only wish I could have got there to lock the door before the horse was stolen. But when I get to the spot, I can find the tracks.”


If all the days Lincoln attended school were added together, they would not make a single year’s time, and he never studied grammar or geography or any of the higher branches. His first teacher in Indiana was Hazel Dorsey, who opened a school in a log schoolhouse a mile and a half from the Lincoln cabin. The building had holes for windows, which were covered over with greased paper to admit light. The roof was just high enough for a man to stand erect. It did not take long to demonstrate that “Abe” was superior to any scholar in his class. His next teacher was Andrew Crawford, who taught in the winter of 1822-3, in the same little schoolhouse. “Abe” was an excellent speller, and it is said that he liked to show off his knowledge, especially if he could help out his less fortunate schoolmates. One day the teacher gave out the word “defied.” A large class was on the floor, but it seemed that no one would be able to spell it. The teacher declared he would keep the whole class in all day and night if “defied” was not spelled correctly.

When the word came around to Katy Roby, she was standing where she could see young “Abe.” She started, “d-e-f,” and while trying to decide whether to spell the word with an “i” or a “y,” she noticed that Abe had his finger on his eye and a smile on his face, and instantly took the hint. She spelled the word correctly and school was dismissed.


Lincoln never forgot anyone or anything.

At one of the afternoon receptions at the White House a stranger shook hands with him, and, as he did so, remarked casually, that he was elected to Congress about the time Mr. Lincoln’s term as representative expired, which happened many years before.

“Yes,” said the President, “You are from–(mentioning the State). “I remember reading of your election in a newspaper one morning on a steamboat going down to Mount Vernon.”

At another time a gentleman addressed him, saying, “I presume, Mr, President, you have forgotten me?”

“No,” was the prompt reply; “your name is Flood. I saw you last, twelve years ago, at–” (naming the place and the occasion).

“I am glad to see,” he continued, “that the Flood goes on.”

Subsequent to his re-election a deputation of bankers from various sections were introduced one day by the Secretary of the Treasury.

After a few moments of general conversation, Lincoln turned to one of them and said:

“Your district did not give me so strong a vote at the last election as it did in 1860.”

“I think, sir, that you must be mistaken,” replied the banker. “I have the impression that your majority was considerably increased at the last election.”

“No,” rejoined the President, “you fell off about six hundred votes.”

Then taking down from the bookcase the official canvass of 1860 and 1864, he referred to the vote of the district named, and proved to be quite right in his assertion.


As President Lincoln, arm in arm with ex-President Buchanan, entered the Capitol, and passed into the Senate Chamber, filled to overflowing with Senators, members of the Diplomatic Corps, and visitors, the contrast between the two men struck every observer.

“Mr. Buchanan was so withered and bowed with age,” wrote George W. Julian, of Indiana, who was among the spectators, “that in contrast with the towering form of Mr. Lincoln he seemed little more than half a man.”


As soon as the result of the Presidential election of 1864 was known, General Grant telegraphed from City Point his congratulations, and added that “the election having passed off quietly . . . is a victory worth more to the country than a battle won.”


London “Punch” persistently maintained throughout the War for the Union that the question of what to do with the blacks was the most bothersome of all the problems President Lincoln had to solve. “Punch” thought the Rebellion had its origin in an effort to determine whether there should or should not be slavery in the United States, and was fought with this as the main end in view. “Punch” of August 15th, 1863, contained the cartoon reproduced on this page, the title being “Brutus and Caesar.”

President Lincoln was pictured as Brutus, while the ghost of Caesar, which appeared in the tent of the American Brutus during the dark hours of the night, was represented in the shape of a husky and anything but ghost-like African, whose complexion would tend to make the blackest tar look like skimmed milk in comparison. This was the text below the cartoon: (From the American Edition of Shakespeare.) The Tent of Brutus (Lincoln). Night. Enter the Ghost of Caesar.

BRUTUS: “Wall, now! Do tell! Who’s you?”

CAESAR: “I am dy ebil genus, Massa Linking. Dis child am awful impressional!”

“Punch’s” cartoons were decidedly unfriendly in tone toward President Lincoln, some of them being not only objectionable in the display of bad taste, but offensive and vulgar. It is true that after the assassination of the President, “Punch,” in illustrations, paid marked and deserved tribute to the memory of the Great Emancipator, but it had little that was good to say of him while he was among the living and engaged in carrying out the great work for which he was destined to win eternal fame.


President Lincoln, well aware of Stanton’s unfriendliness, was surprised when Secretary of the Treasury Chase told him that Stanton had expressed the opinion that the arrest of the Confederate Commissioners, Mason and Slidell, was legal and justified by international law. The President asked Secretary Chase to invite Stanton to the White House, and Stanton came. Mr. Lincoln thanked him for the opinion he had expressed, and asked him to put it in writing.

Stanton complied, the President read it carefully, and, after putting it away, astounded Stanton by offering him the portfolio of War. Stanton was a Democrat, had been one of the President’s most persistent vilifiers, and could not realize, at first, that Lincoln meant what he said. He managed, however to say:

“I am both surprised and embarrassed, Mr. President, and would ask a couple of days to consider this most important matter.”

Lincoln fully understood what was going on in Stanton’s mind, and then said:

“This is a very critical period in the life of the nation, Mr. Stanton, as you are well aware, and I well know you are as much interested in sustaining the government as myself or any other man. This is no time to consider mere party issues. The life of the nation is in danger. I need the best counsellors around me. I have every confidence in your judgment, and have concluded to ask you to become one of my counsellors. The office of the Secretary of War will soon be vacant, and I am anxious to have you take Mr. Cameron’s place.”

Stanton decided to accept.


“Abe” Lincoln’s father was never at loss for an answer. An old neighbor of Thomas Lincoln–“Abe’s” father–was passing the Lincoln farm one day, when he saw “Abe’s” father grubbing up some hazelnut bushes, and said to him: “Why, Grandpap, I thought you wanted to sell your farm?”

“And so I do,” he replied, “but I ain’t goin’ to let my farm know it.”

“‘Abe’s’ jes’ like his father,” the old ones would say.


One of the most notable of Lincoln’s law cases was that in which he defended William D. Armstrong, charged with murder. The case was one which was watched during its progress with intense interest, and it had a most dramatic ending.

The defendant was the son of Jack and Hannah Armstrong. The father was dead, but Hannah, who had been very motherly and helpful to Lincoln during his life at New Salem, was still living, and asked Lincoln to defend him. Young Armstrong had been a wild lad, and was often in bad company.

The principal witness had sworn that he saw young Armstrong strike the fatal blow, the moon being very bright at the time.

Lincoln brought forward the almanac, which showed that at the time the murder was committed there was no moon at all. In his argument, Lincoln’s speech was so feelingly made that at its close all the men in the jury-box were in tears. It was just half an hour when the jury returned a verdict of acquittal.

Lincoln would accept no fee except the thanks of the anxious mother.


Lincoln’s reading in his early days embraced a wide range. He was particularly fond of all stories containing fun, wit and humor, and every one of these he came across he learned by heart, thus adding to his personal store.

He improved as a reciter and retailer of the stories he had read and heard, and as the reciter of tales of his own invention, and he had ready and eager auditors.

Judge Herndon, in his “Abraham Lincoln,” relates that as a mimic Lincoln was unequalled. An old neighbor said: “His laugh was striking. Such awkward gestures belonged to no other man. They attracted universal attention, from the old and sedate down to the schoolboy. Then, in a few moments, he was as calm and thoughtful as a judge on the bench, and as ready to give advice on the most important matters; fun and gravity grew on him alike.”


During the year Lincoln was in Denton Offutt’s store at New Salem, that gentleman, whose business was somewhat widely and unwisely spread about the country, ceased to prosper in his finances and finally failed. The store was shut up, the mill was closed, and Abraham Lincoln was out of business.

The year had been one of great advance, in many respects. He had made new and valuable acquaintances, read many books, mastered the grammar of his own tongue, won multitudes of friends, and became ready for a step still further in advance.

Those who could appreciate brains respected him, and those whose ideas of a man related to his muscles were devoted to him. It was while he was performing the work of the store that he acquired the sobriquet of “Honest Abe”–a characterization he never dishonored, and an abbreviation that he never outgrew.

He was judge, arbitrator, referee, umpire, authority, in all disputes, games and matches of man-flesh, horse-flesh, a pacificator in all quarrels; everybody’s friend; the best-natured, the most sensible, the best-informed, the most modest and unassuming, the kindest, gentlest, roughest, strongest, best fellow in all New Salem and the region round about.


Enduring friendship and love of old associations were prominent characteristics of President Lincoln. When about to leave Springfield for Washington, he went to the dingy little law office which had sheltered his saddest hours.

He sat down on the couch, and said to his law partner, Judge Herndon:

“Billy, you and I have been together for more than twenty years, and have never passed a word. Will you let my name stay on the old sign until I come back from Washington?”

The tears started to Herndon’s eyes. He put out his hand. “Mr. Lincoln,” said he, “I never will have any other partner while you live”; and to the day of assassination, all the doings of the firm were in the name of “Lincoln & Herndon.”


Early in January, 1861, Colonel Alex. K. McClure, of Philadelphia, received a telegram from President-elect Lincoln, asking him (McClure) to visit him at Springfield, Illinois. Colonel McClure described his disappointment at first sight of Lincoln in these words:

“I went directly from the depot to Lincoln’s house and rang the bell, which was answered by Lincoln himself opening the door. I doubt whether a wholly concealed my disappointment at meeting him.

“Tall, gaunt, ungainly, ill clad, with a homeliness of manner that was unique in itself, I confess that my heart sank within me as I remembered that this was the man chosen by a great nation to become its ruler in the gravest period of its history.

“I remember his dress as if it were but yesterday–snuff-colored and slouchy pantaloons, open black vest, held by a few brass buttons; straight or evening dresscoat, with tightly fitting sleeves to exaggerate his long, bony arms, and all supplemented by an awkwardness that was uncommon among men of intelligence.

“Such was the picture I met in the person of Abraham Lincoln. We sat down in his plainly furnished parlor, and were uninterrupted during the nearly four hours that I remained with him, and little by little, as his earnestness, sincerity and candor were developed in conversation, I forgot all the grotesque qualities which so confounded me when I first greeted him.”


“If a man is honest in his mind,” said Lincoln one day, long before he became President, “you are pretty safe in trusting him.”


“Abe’s” nephew–or one of them–related a story in connection with Lincoln’s first love (Anne Rutledge), and his subsequent marriage to Miss Mary Todd. This nephew was a plain, every-day farmer, and thought everything of his uncle, whose greatness he quite thoroughly appreciated, although he did not pose to any extreme as the relative of a President of the United States.

Said he one day, in telling his story:

“Us child’en, w’en we heerd Uncle ‘Abe’ wuz a-goin’ to be married, axed Gran’ma ef Uncle ‘Abe’ never hed hed a gal afore, an’ she says, sez she, ‘Well, “Abe” wuz never a han’ nohow to run ’round visitin’ much, or go with the gals, neither, but he did fall in love with a Anne Rutledge, who lived out near Springfield, an’ after she died he’d come home an’ ev’ry time he’d talk ’bout her, he cried dreadful. He never could talk of her nohow ‘thout he’d jes’ cry an’ cry, like a young feller.’

“Onct he tol’ Gran’ma they wuz goin’ ter be hitched, they havin’ promised each other, an’ thet is all we ever heered ’bout it. But, so it wuz, that arter Uncle ‘Abe’ hed got over his mournin’, he wuz married ter a woman w’ich hed lived down in Kentuck.

“Uncle ‘Abe’ hisself tol’ us he wuz married the nex’ time he come up ter our place, an’ w’en we ast him why he didn’t bring his wife up to see us, he said: ‘She’s very busy and can’t come.’

“But we knowed better’n that. He wuz too proud to bring her up,’cause nothin’ would suit her, nohow. She wuzn’t raised the way we wuz, an’ wuz different from us, and we heerd, tu, she wuz as proud as cud be.

“No, an’ he never brought none uv the child’en, neither.

“But then, Uncle ‘Abe,’ he wuzn’t to blame. We never thought he wuz stuck up.”


Replying to an editorial written by Horace Greeley, the President wrote:

“My paramount object is to save the Union, and not either to save or to destroy slavery.

“If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it.

“If I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could do it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.

“What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save this Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.

“I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I believe doing more will help the cause.”


One of President Lincoln’s friends, visiting at the White House, was finding considerable fault with the constant agitation in Congress of the slavery question. He remarked that, after the adoption of the Emancipation policy, he had hoped for something new.

“There was a man down in Maine,” said the President, in reply, “who kept a grocery store, and a lot of fellows used to loaf around for their toddy. He only gave ’em New England rum, and they drank pretty considerable of it. But after awhile they began to get tired of that, and kept asking for something new– something new–all the time. Well, one night, when the whole crowd were around, the grocer brought out his glasses, and says he, ‘I’ve got something New for you to drink, boys, now.’

“‘Honor bright?’ said they.

“‘Honor bright,’ says he, and with that he sets out a jug. ‘Thar’ says he, ‘that’s something new; it’s New England rum!’ says he.

“Now,” remarked the President, in conclusion, “I guess we’re a good deal like that crowd, and Congress is a good deal like that store-keeper!”


When Mr. Lincoln was quite a small boy he met with an accident that almost cost him his life. He was saved by Austin Gollaher, a young playmate. Mr. Gollaher lived to be more than ninety years of age, and to the day of his death related with great pride his boyhood association with Lincoln.

“Yes,” Mr. Gollaher once said, “the story that I once saved Abraham Lincoln’s life is true. He and I had been going to school together for a year or more, and had become greatly attached to each other. Then school disbanded on account of there being so few scholars, and we did not see each other much for a long while.

“One Sunday my mother visited the Lincolns, and I was taken along. ‘Abe’ and I played around all day. Finally, we concluded to cross the creek to hunt for some partridges young Lincoln had seen the day before. The creek was swollen by a recent rain, and, in crossing on the narrow footlog, ‘Abe’ fell in. Neither of us could swim. I got a long pole and held it out to ‘Abe,’ who grabbed it. Then I pulled him ashore.

“He was almost dead, and I was badly scared. I rolled and pounded him in good earnest. Then I got him by the arms and shook him, the water meanwhile pouring out of his mouth. By this means I succeeded in bringing him to, and he was soon all right.

“Then a new difficulty confronted us. If our mothers discovered our wet clothes they would whip us. This we dreaded from experience, and determined to avoid. It was June, the sun was very warm, and we soon dried our clothing by spreading it on the rocks about us. We promised never to tell the story, and I never did until after Lincoln’s tragic end.”


In conversation with some friends at the White House on New Year’s evening, 1863, President Lincoln said, concerning his Emancipation Proclamation

“The signature looks a little tremulous, for my hand was tired, but my resolution was firm.

“I told them in September, if they did not return to their allegiance, and cease murdering our soldiers, I would strike at this pillar of their strength.

“And now the promise shall be kept, and not one word of it will I ever recall.”


During the time the enemies of General Grant were making their bitterest attacks upon him, and demanding that the President remove him from command, “Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper,” of June 13, 1863, came out with the cartoon reproduced. The text printed under the picture was to the following effect:

OLD ABE: “Greeley be hanged! I want no more new brooms. I begin to think that the worst thing about my old ones was in not being handled right.”

The old broom the President holds in his right hand is labeled “Grant.” The latter had captured Fort Donelson, defeated the Confederates at Shiloh, Iuka, Port Gibson, and other places, and had Vicksburg in his iron grasp. When the demand was made that Lincoln depose Grant, the President answered, “I can’t spare this man; he fights!” Grant never lost a battle and when he found the enemy he always fought him. McClellan, Burnside, Pope and Hooker had been found wanting, so Lincoln pinned his faith to Grant. As noted in the cartoon, Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, Thurlow Weed, and others wanted Lincoln to try some other new brooms, but President Lincoln was wearied with defeats, and wanted a few victories to offset them. Therefore; he stood by Grant, who gave him victories.


Abraham Lincoln
his hand and pen
he will be good
but god Knows When

These lines were found written in young Lincoln’s own hand at the bottom of a page whereon he had been ciphering. Lincoln always wrote a clear, regular “fist.” In this instance he evidently did not appreciate the sacredness of the name of the Deity, when he used a little “g.”

Lincoln once said he did not remember the time when he could not write.


It was the custom in Sangamon for the “menfolks” to gather at noon and in the evening, when resting, in a convenient lane near the mill. They had rolled out a long peeled log, on which they lounged while they whittled and talked.

Lincoln had not been long in Sangamon before he joined this circle. At once he became a favorite by his jokes and good-humor. As soon as he appeared at the assembly ground the men would start him to story-telling. So irresistibly droll were his “yarns” that whenever he’d end up in his unexpected way the boys on the log would whoop and roll off. The result of the rolling off was to polish the log like a mirror. The men, recognizing Lincoln’s part in this polishing, christened their seat “Abe’s log.”

Long after Lincoln had disappeared from Sangamon, “Abe’s log” remained, and until it had rotted away people pointed it out, and repeated the droll stories of the stranger.


President Lincoln, in company with General Grant, was inspecting the Dutch Gap Canal at City Point. “Grant, do you know what this reminds me of? Out in Springfield, Ill., there was a blacksmith who, not having much to do, took a piece of soft iron and attempted to weld it into an agricultural implement, but discovered that the iron would not hold out; then he concluded it would make a claw hammer; but having too much iron, attempted to make an ax, but decided after working awhile that there was not enough iron left. Finally, becoming disgusted, he filled the forge full of coal and brought the iron to a white heat; then with his tongs he lifted it from the bed of coals, and thrusting it into a tub of water near by, exclaimed: ‘Well, if I can’t make anything else of you, I will make a fizzle, anyhow.'” “I was afraid that was about what we had done with the Dutch Gap Canal,” said General Grant.


When Lincoln was in the Black Hawk War as captain, the volunteer soldiers drank in with delight the jests and stories of the tall captain. Aesop’s Fables were given a new dress, and the tales of the wild adventures that he had brought from Kentucky and Indiana were many, but his inspiration was never stimulated by recourse to the whisky jug.

When his grateful and delighted auditors pressed this on him he had one reply: “Thank you, I never drink it.”


President Lincoln was passing down Pennsylvania avenue in Washington one day, when a man came running after him, hailed him, and thrust a bundle of papers in his hands.

It angered him not a little, and he pitched the papers back, saying, “I’m not going to open shop here.”


Lincoln delivered a remarkable speech at Springfield, Illinois, when but twenty-eight years of age, upon the liberty possessed by the people of the United States.

In part, he said:

“In the great journal of things happening under the sun, we, the American people, find our account running under date of the nineteenth century of the Christian era.

“We find ourselves in the peaceful possession of the fairest portion of the earth as regards extent of territory, fertility of soil, and salubrity of climate.

“We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty than any of which history of former times tells us.

“We, when mounting the stage of existence, found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings.

“We toiled not in the acquisition or establishment of them; they are a legacy bequeathed to us by a once hardy, brave, and patriotic, but now lamented and departed race of ancestors.

“Theirs was the task (and nobly did they perform it) to possess themselves, us, of this goodly land, to uprear upon its hills and valleys a political edifice of liberty and equal rights; ’tis ours to transmit these–the former unprofaned by the foot of an intruder, the latter undecayed by the lapse of time and untorn by usurpation–to the generation that fate shall permit the world to know.

“This task, gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity–all imperatively require us faithfully to perform.

“How, then, shall we perform it? At what point shall we expect the approach of danger?

“Shall we expect some trans-Atlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow?

“Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa, combined, with all the treasures of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not, by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

“At what point, then, is this approach of danger to be expected?

“I answer, if ever it reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad.

“If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher.

“As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time or die by suicide.

“I hope I am not over-wary; but, if I am not, there is even now something of ill-omen amongst us.

“I mean the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country, the disposition to substitute the wild and furious passions in lieu of the sober judgment of courts, and the worse than savage mobs for the executive ministers of justice.

“This disposition is awfully fearful in any community, and that it now exists in ours, though grating to our feelings to admit it, it would be a violation of truth and an insult to deny.

“Accounts of outrages committed by mobs form the every-day news of the times.

“They have pervaded the country from New England to Louisiana; they are neither peculiar to the eternal snows of the former, nor the burning sun of the latter.

“They are not the creatures of climate, neither are they confined to the slave-holding or non-slave-holding States.

“Alike they spring up among the pleasure-hunting Southerners and the order-loving citizens of the land of steady habits.

“Whatever, then, their cause may be, it is common to the whole country.

“Many great and good men, sufficiently qualified for any task they may undertake, may ever be found, whose ambition would aspire to nothing beyond a seat in Congress, a gubernatorial or Presidential chair; but such belong not to the family of the lion, or the tribe of the eagle.

“What! Think you these places would satisfy an Alexander, a Caesar, or a Napoleon? Never!

“Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored.

“It seeks no distinction in adding story to story upon the monuments of fame, erected to the memory of others.

“It denies that it is glory enough to serve under any chief.

“It scorns to tread in the footpaths of any predecessor, however illustrious.

“It thirsts and burns for distinction, and, if possible, it will have it, whether at the expense of emancipating the slaves or enslaving freemen.

“Another reason which once was, but which to the same extent is now no more, has done much in maintaining our institutions thus far.

“I mean the powerful influence which the interesting scenes of the Revolution had upon the passions of the people, as distinguished from their judgment.

“But these histories are gone. They can be read no more forever. They were a fortress of strength.

“But what the invading foeman could never do, the silent artillery of time has done,the levelling of the walls.

“They were a forest of giant oaks, but the all-resisting hurricane swept over them and left only here and there a lone trunk, despoiled of its verdure, shorn of its foliage, unshading and unshaded, to murmur in a few more gentle breezes and to combat with its mutilated limbs a few more rude storms, then to sink and be no more.

“They were the pillars of the temple of liberty, and now that they have crumbled away, that temple must fall, unless we, the descendants, supply the places with pillars hewn from the same solid quarry of sober reason.

“Passion has helped us, but can do so no more. It will in future be our enemy.

“Reason–cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason–must furnish all the materials for our support and defense.

“Let those materials be molded into general intelligence, sound morality, and, in particular, a reverence for the Constitution and the laws; and then our country shall continue to improve, and our nation, revering his name, and permitting no hostile foot to pass or desecrate his resting-place, shall be the first to hear the last trump that shall awaken our Washington.

“Upon these let the proud fabric of freedom rest as the rock of its basis, and as truly as has been said of the only greater institution, ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.'”


One of Mr. Lincoln’s warm friends was Dr. Robert Boal, of Lacon, Illinois. Telling of a visit he paid to the White House soon after Mr. Lincoln’s inauguration, he said: “I found him the same Lincoln as a struggling lawyer and politician that I did in Washington as President of the United States, yet there was a dignity and self-possession about him in his high official authority. I paid him a second call in the evening. He had thrown off his reserve somewhat, and would walk up and down the room with his hands to his sides and laugh at the joke he was telling, or at one that was told to him. I remember one story he told to me on this occasion.

“Tom Corwin, of Ohio, had been down to Alexandria, Va., that day and had come back and told Lincoln a story which pleased him so much that he broke out in a hearty laugh and said: ‘I must tell you Tom Corwin’s latest. Tom met an old man at Alexandria who knew George Washington, and he told Tom that George Washington often swore. Now, Corwin’s father had always held the father of our country up as a faultless person and told his son to follow in his footsteps.

“‘”Well,” said Corwin, “when I heard that George Washington was addicted to the vices and infirmities of man, I felt so relieved that I just shouted for joy.”‘”


The lawyers on the circuit traveled by Lincoln got together one night and tried him on the charge of accepting fees which tended to lower the established rates. It was the understood rule that a lawyer should accept all the client could be induced to pay. The tribunal was known as “The Ogmathorial Court.”

Ward Lamon, his law partner at the time, tells about it:

“Lincoln was found guilty and fined for his awful crime against the pockets of his brethren of the bar. The fine he paid with great good humor, and then kept the crowd of lawyers in uproarious laughter until after midnight.

“He persisted in his revolt, however, declaring that with his consent his firm should never during its life, or after its dissolution, deserve the reputation enjoyed by those shining lights of the profession, ‘Catch ’em and Cheat ’em.'”


Lincoln had assisted in the prosecution of a man who had robbed his neighbor’s hen roosts. Jogging home along the highway with the foreman of the jury that had convicted the hen stealer, he was complimented by Lincoln on the zeal and ability of the prosecution, and remarked: “Why, when the country was young, and I was stronger than I am now, I didn’t mind packing off a sheep now and again, but stealing hens!” The good man’s scorn could not find words to express his opinion of a man who would steal hens.


A lawyer, who was a stranger to Mr. Lincoln, once expressed to General Linder the opinion that Mr. Lincoln’s practice of telling stories to the jury was a waste of time.

“Don’t lay that flattering unction to your soul,” Linder answered; “Lincoln is like Tansey’s horse, he ‘breaks to win.'”


On the 3rd of January, 1863, “Harper’s Weekly” appeared with a cartoon representing Columbia indignantly demanding of President Lincoln and Secretary of War Stanton that they restore to her those of her sons killed in battle. Below the picture is the reading matter