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  • 1900
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“We can do it. The human heart is with us; God is with us.

“We shall never be able to declare that ‘all States as States are equal,’ nor yet that ‘all citizens are equal,’ but to renew the broader, better declaration, including both these and much more, that ‘all men are created equal.'”


Up to the very last moment of the life of the Confederacy, the London “Punch” had its fling at the United States. In a cartoon, printed February 18th, 1865, labeled “The Threatening Notice,” “Punch” intimates that Uncle Sam is in somewhat of a hurry to serve notice on John Bull regarding the contentions in connection with the northern border of the United States.

Lincoln, however, as attorney for his revered Uncle, advises caution. Accordingly, he tells his Uncle, according to the text under the picture

ATTORNEY LINCOLN: “Now, Uncle Sam, you’re in a darned hurry to serve this here notice on John Bull. Now, it’s my duty, as your attorney, to tell you that you may drive him to go over to that cuss, Davis.” (Uncle Sam considers.) In this instance, President Lincoln is given credit for judgment and common sense, his advice to his Uncle Sam to be prudent being sound. There was trouble all along the Canadian border during the War, while Canada was the refuge of Northern conspirators and Southern spies, who, at times, crossed the line and inflicted great damage upon the States bordering on it. The plot to seize the great lake cities– Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo and others–was figured out in Canada by the Southerners and Northern allies. President Lincoln, in his message to Congress in December, 1864, said the United States had given notice to England that, at the end of six months, this country would, if necessary, increase its naval armament upon the lakes. What Great Britain feared was the abrogation by the United States of all treaties regarding Canada. By previous stipulation, the United States and England were each to have but one war vessel on the Great Lakes.


This story cannot be repeated in Lincoln’s own language, although he told it often enough to intimate friends; but, as it was never taken down by a stenographer in the martyred President’s exact words, the reader must accept a simple narration of the strange occurrence.

It was not long after the first nomination of Lincoln for the Presidency, when he saw, or imagined he saw, the startling apparition. One day, feeling weary, he threw himself upon a lounge in one of the rooms of his house at Springfield to rest. Opposite the lounge upon which he was lying was a large, long mirror, and he could easily see the reflection of his form, full length.

Suddenly he saw, or imagined he saw, two Lincolns in the mirror, each lying full length upon the lounge, but they differed strangely in appearance. One was the natural Lincoln, full of life, vigor, energy and strength; the other was a dead Lincoln, the face white as marble, the limbs nerveless and lifeless, the body inert and still.

Lincoln was so impressed with this vision, which he considered merely an optical illusion, that he arose, put on his hat, and went out for a walk. Returning to the house, he determined to test the matter again–and the result was the same as before. He distinctly saw the two Lincolns–one living and the other dead.

He said nothing to his wife about this, she being, at that time, in a nervous condition, and apprehensive that some accident would surely befall her husband. She was particularly fearful that he might be the victim of an assassin. Lincoln always made light of her fears, but yet he was never easy in his mind afterwards.

To more thoroughly test the so-called “optical illusion,” and prove, beyond the shadow of a doubt, whether it was a mere fanciful creation of the brain or a reflection upon the broad face of the mirror which might be seen at any time, Lincoln made frequent experiments. Each and every time the result was the same. He could not get away from the two Lincolns–one living and the other dead.

Lincoln never saw this forbidding reflection while in the White House. Time after time he placed a couch in front of a mirror at a distance from the glass where he could view his entire length while lying down, but the looking-glass in the Executive Mansion was faithful to its trust, and only the living Lincoln was observable.

The late Ward Lamon, once a law partner of Lincoln, and Marshal of the District of Columbia during his first administration, tells, in his “Recollections of Abraham Lincoln,” of the dreams the President had–all foretelling death.

Lamon was Lincoln’s most intimate friend, being, practically, his bodyguard, and slept in the White House. In reference to Lincoln’s “death dreams,” he says:

“How, it may be asked, could he make life tolerable, burdened as he was with that portentous horror, which, though visionary, and of trifling import in our eyes, was by his interpretation a premonition of impending doom? I answer in a word: His sense of duty to his country; his belief that ‘the inevitable’ is right; and his innate and irrepressible humor.

“But the most startling incident in the life of Mr. Lincoln was a dream he had only a few days before his assassination. To him it was a thing of deadly import, and certainly no vision was ever fashioned more exactly like a dread reality. Coupled with other dreams, with the mirror-scene and with other incidents, there was something about it so amazingly real, so true to the actual tragedy which occurred soon after, that more than mortal strength and wisdom would have been required to let it pass without a shudder or a pang.

“After worrying over it for some days, Mr. Lincoln seemed no longer able to keep the secret. I give it as nearly in his own words as I can, from notes which I made immediately after its recital. There were only two or three persons present.

“The President was in a melancholy, meditative mood, and had been silent for some time. Mrs. Lincoln, who was present, rallied him on his solemn visage and want of spirit. This seemed to arouse him, and, without seeming to notice her sally, he said, in slow and measured tones:

“‘It seems strange how much there is in the Bible about dreams. There are, I think, some sixteen chapters in the Old Testament and four or five in the New, in which dreams are mentioned; and there are many other passages scattered throughout the book which refer to visions. In the old days, God and His angels came to men in their sleep and made themselves known in dreams.’

“Mrs. Lincoln here remarked, ‘Why, you look dreadfully solemn; do you believe in dreams?’

“‘I can’t say that I do,’ returned Mr. Lincoln; ‘but I had one the other night which has haunted me ever since. After it occurred the first time, I opened the Bible, and, strange as it may appear, it was at the twenty-eighth chapter of Genesis, which relates the wonderful dream Jacob had. I turned to other passages, and seemed to encounter a dream or a vision wherever I looked. I kept on turning the leaves of the old book, and everywhere my eyes fell upon passages recording matters strangely in keeping with my own thoughts–supernatural visitations, dreams, visions, etc.’

“He now looked so serious and disturbed that Mrs. Lincoln exclaimed ‘You frighten me! What is the matter?’

“‘I am afraid,’ said Mr. Lincoln, observing the effect his words had upon his wife, ‘that I have done wrong to mention the subject at all; but somehow the thing has got possession of me, and, like Banquo’s ghost, it will not down.’

“This only inflamed Mrs. Lincoln’s curiosity the more, and while bravely disclaiming any belief in dreams, she strongly urged him to tell the dream which seemed to have such a hold upon him, being seconded in this by another listener. Mr. Lincoln hesitated, but at length commenced very deliberately, his brow overcast with a shade of melancholy.

“‘About ten days ago,’ said he, ‘I retired very late. I had been up waiting for important dispatches from the front. I could not have been long in bed when I fell into a slumber, for I was weary. I soon began to dream. There seemed to be a deathlike stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping.

“‘I thought I left my bed and wandered down-stairs. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I went from room to room; no living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds of distress met me as I passed along. It was light in all the rooms; every object was familiar to me; but where were all the people who were grieving as if their hearts would break? I was puzzled and alarmed. What could be the meaning of all this?

“‘Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, some gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully.

“‘”Who is dead in the White House?” I demanded of one of the soldiers.

“‘”The President,” was his answer; “he was killed by an assassin.”

“‘Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which awoke me from my dream. I slept no more that night; and although it was only a dream, I have been strangely annoyed by it ever since.’

“‘That is horrid!’ said Mrs. Lincoln. ‘I wish you had not told it. I am glad I don’t believe in dreams, or I should be in terror from this time forth.’

“‘Well,’ responded Mr. Lincoln, thoughtfully, ‘it is only a dream, Mary. Let us say no more about it, and try to forget it.’

“This dream was so horrible, so real, and so in keeping with other dreams and threatening presentiments of his, that Mr. Lincoln was profoundly disturbed by it. During its recital he was grave, gloomy, and at times visibly pale, but perfectly calm. He spoke slowly, with measured accents and deep feeling.

“In conversations with me, he referred to it afterwards, closing one with this quotation from ‘Hamlet’: ‘To sleep; perchance to dream! ay, there’s the rub!’ with a strong accent upon the last three words.

“Once the President alluded to this terrible dream with some show of playful humor. ‘Hill,’ said he, ‘your apprehension of harm to me from some hidden enemy is downright foolishness. For a long time you have been trying to keep somebody-the Lord knows who– from killing me.

“‘Don’t you see how it will turn out? In this dream it was not me, but some other fellow, that was killed. It seems that this ghostly assassin tried his hand on some one else. And this reminds me of an old farmer in Illinois whose family were made sick by eating greens.

“‘Some poisonous herb had got into the mess, and members of the family were in danger of dying. There was a half-witted boy in the family called Jake; and always afterward when they had greens the old man would say, “Now, afore we risk these greens, let’s try ’em on Jake. If he stands ’em we’re all right.” Just so with me. As long as this imaginary assassin continues to exercise himself on others, I can stand it.’

“He then became serious and said: ‘Well, let it go. I think the Lord in His own good time and way will work this out all right. God knows what is best.’

“These words he spoke with a sigh, and rather in a tone of soliloquy, as if hardly noting my presence.

“Mr. Lincoln had another remarkable dream, which was repeated so frequently during his occupancy of the White House that he came to regard it is a welcome visitor. It was of a pleasing and promising character, having nothing in it of the horrible.

“It was always an omen of a Union victory, and came with unerring certainty just before every military or naval engagement where our arms were crowned with success. In this dream he saw a ship sailing away rapidly, badly damaged, and our victorious vessels in close pursuit.

“He saw, also, the close of a battle on land, the enemy routed, and our forces in possession of vantage ground of inestimable importance. Mr. Lincoln stated it as a fact that he had this dream just before the battles of Antietam, Gettysburg, and other signal engagements throughout the War.

“The last time Mr. Lincoln had this dream was the night before his assassination. On the morning of that lamentable day there was a Cabinet meeting, at which General Grant was present. During an interval of general discussion, the President asked General Grant if he had any news from General Sherman, who was then confronting Johnston. The reply was in the negative, but the general added that he was in hourly expectation of a dispatch announcing Johnston’s surrender.

“Mr. Lincoln then, with great impressiveness, said, ‘We shall hear very soon, and the news will be important.’

“General Grant asked him why he thought so.

“‘Because,’ said Mr. Lincoln, ‘I had a dream last night; and ever since this War began I have had the same dream just before every event of great national importance. It portends some important event which will happen very soon.’

“On the night of the fateful 14th of April, 1865, Mrs. Lincoln’s first exclamation, after the President was shot, was, ‘His dream was prophetic!’

“Lincoln was a believer in certain phases of the supernatural. Assured as he undoubtedly was by omens which, to his mind, were conclusive, that he would rise to greatness and power, he was as firmly convinced by the same tokens that he would be suddenly cut off at the height of his career and the fullness of his fame. He always believed that he would fall by the hand of an assassin.

“Mr. Lincoln had this further idea: Dreams, being natural occurrences, in the strictest sense, he held that their best interpreters are the common people; and this accounts, in great measure, for the profound respect he always had for the collective wisdom of plain people–‘the children of Nature,’ he called them–touching matters belonging to the domain of psychical mysteries. There was some basis of truth, he believed, for whatever obtained general credence among these ‘children of Nature.’

“Concerning presentiments and dreams, Mr. Lincoln had a philosophy of his own, which, strange as it may appear, was in perfect harmony with his character in all other respects. He was no dabbler in divination–astrology, horoscopy, prophecy, ghostly lore, or witcheries of any sort.


As the time drew near at which Mr. Lincoln said he would issue the Emancipation Proclamation, some clergymen, who feared the President might change his mind, called on him to urge him to keep his promise.

“We were ushered into the Cabinet room,” says Dr. Sunderland. “It was very dim, but one gas jet burning. As we entered, Mr. Lincoln was standing at the farther end of the long table, which filled the center of the room. As I stood by the door, I am so very short, that I was obliged to look up to see the President. Mr. Robbins introduced me, and I began at once by saying: ‘I have come, Mr. President, to anticipate the new year with my respects, and if I may, to say to you a word about the serious condition of this country.’

“‘Go ahead, Doctor,’ replied the President; ‘every little helps.’ But I was too much in earnest to laugh at his sally at my smallness.”


President Lincoln (at times) said he felt sure his life would end with the War. A correspondent of a Boston paper had an interview with him in July, 1864, and wrote regarding it:

“The President told me he was certain he should not outlast the rebellion. As will be remembered, there was dissension then among the Republican leaders. Many of his best friends had deserted him, and were talking of an opposition convention to nominate another candidate, and universal gloom was among the people.

“The North was tired of the War, and supposed an honorable peace attainable. Mr. Lincoln knew it was not–that any peace at that time would be only disunion. Speaking of it, he said: ‘I have faith in the people. They will not consent to disunion. The danger is, they are misled. Let them know the truth, and the country is safe.’

“He looked haggard and careworn; and further on in the interview I remarked on his appearance, ‘You are wearing yourself out with work.’

“‘I can’t work less,’ he answered; ‘but it isn’t that–work never troubled me. Things look badly, and I can’t avoid anxiety. Personally, I care nothing about a re-election, but if our divisions defeat us, I fear for the country.’

“When I suggested that right must eventually triumph, he replied, ‘I grant that, but I may never live to see it. I feel a presentiment that I shall not outlast the rebellion. When it is over, my work will be done.’

“He never intimated, however, that he expected to be assassinated.”


Horace Greeley said, some time after the death of President Lincoln:

“After the Civil War began, Lincoln’s tenacity of purpose paralleled his former immobility; I believe he would have been nearly the last, if not the very last, man in America to recognize the Southern Confederacy had its armies been triumphant. He would have preferred death.”


London “Punch” was not satisfied with anything President Lincoln did. On December 3rd, 1864, after Mr. Lincoln’s re-election to the Presidency, a cartoon appeared in one of the pages of that genial publication, the reproduction being printed here, labeled “The Federal Phoenix.” It attracted great attention at the time, and was particularly pleasing to the enemies of the United States, as it showed Lincoln as the Phoenix arising from the ashes of the Federal Constitution, the Public Credit, the Freedom of the Press, State Rights and the Commerce of the North American Republic.

President Lincoln’s endorsement by the people of the United States meant that the Confederacy was to be crushed, no matter what the cost; that the Union of States was to be preserved, and that State Rights was a thing of the past. “Punch” wished to create the impression that President Lincoln’s re-election was a personal victory; that he would set up a despotism, with himself at its head, and trample upon the Constitution of the United States and all the rights the citizens of the Republic ever possessed.

The result showed that “Punch” was suffering from an acute attack of needless alarm.


Lincoln was particularly fascinated by the wonderful happenings recorded in history. He loved to read of those mighty events which had been foretold, and often brooded upon these subjects. His early convictions upon occult matters led him to read all books tending’ to strengthen these convictions.

The following lines, in Byron’s “Dream,” were frequently quoted by him:

“Sleep hath its own world,
A boundary between the things misnamed Death and existence: Sleep hath its own world And a wide realm of wild reality.
And dreams in their development have breath, And tears and tortures, and the touch of joy; They leave a weight upon our waking thoughts, They take a weight from off our waking toils, They do divide our being.”

Those with whom he was associated in his early youth and young manhood, and with whom he was always in cordial sympathy, were thorough believers in presentiments and dreams; and so Lincoln drifted on through years of toil and exceptional hardship– meditative, aspiring, certain of his star, but appalled at times by its malignant aspect. Many times prior to his first election to the Presidency he was both elated and alarmed by what seemed to him a rent in the veil which hides from mortal view what the future holds.

He saw, or thought he saw, a vision of glory and of blood, himself the central figure in a scene which his fancy transformed from giddy enchantment to the most appalling tragedy.


The suspense of the days when the capital was isolated, the expected troops not arriving, and an hourly attack feared, wore on Mr. Lincoln greatly.

“I begin to believe,” he said bitterly, one day, to some Massachusetts soldiers, “that there is no North. The Seventh Regiment is a myth. Rhode Island is another. You are the only real thing.”

And again, after pacing the floor of his deserted office for a half-hour, he was heard to exclaim to himself, in an anguished tone: “Why don’t they come! Why don’t they come!”


Lincoln was not a man of impulse, and did nothing upon the spur of the moment; action with him was the result of deliberation and study. He took nothing for granted; he judged men by their performances and not their speech.

If a general lost battles, Lincoln lost confidence in him; if a commander was successful, Lincoln put him where he would be of the most service to the country.

“Grant is a drunkard,” asserted powerful and influential politicians to the President at the White House time after time; “he is not himself half the time; he can’t be relied upon, and it is a shame to have such a man in command of an army.”

“So Grant gets drunk, does he?” queried Lincoln, addressing himself to one of the particularly active detractors of the soldier, who, at that period, was inflicting heavy damage upon the Confederates.

“Yes, he does, and I can prove it,” was the reply.

“Well,” returned Lincoln, with the faintest suspicion of a twinkle in his eye, “you needn’t waste your time getting proof; you just find out, to oblige me, what brand of whiskey Grant drinks, because I want to send a barrel of it to each one of my generals.”

That ended the crusade against Grant, so far as the question of drinking was concerned.


A New York firm applied to Abraham Lincoln, some years before he became President, for information as to the financial standing of one of his neighbors. Mr. Lincoln replied:

“I am well acquainted with Mr.– and know his circumstances. First of all, he has a wife and baby; together they ought to be worth $50,000 to any man. Secondly, he has an office in which there is a table worth $1.50 and three chairs worth, say, $1. Last of all, there is in one corner a large rat hole, which will bear looking into. Respectfully, A. Lincoln.”


President Lincoln appointed as consul to a South American country a young man from Ohio who was a dandy. A wag met the new appointee on his way to the White House to thank the President. He was dressed in the most extravagant style. The wag horrified him by telling him that the country to which he was assigned was noted chiefly for the bugs that abounded there and made life unbearable.

“They’ll bore a hole clean through you before a week has passed,” was the comforting assurance of the wag as they parted at the White House steps. The new consul approached Lincoln with disappointment clearly written all over his face. Instead of joyously thanking the President, he told him the wag’s story of the bugs. “I am informed, Mr. President,” he said, “that the place is full of vermin and that they could eat me up in a week’s time.” “Well, young man,” replied Lincoln, “if that’s true, all I’ve got to say is that if such a thing happened they would leave a mighty good suit of clothes behind.”


A. W. Swan, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, told this story on Lincoln, being an eyewitness of the scene:

“One day President Lincoln was met in the park between the White House and the War Department by an irate private soldier, who was swearing in a high key, cursing the Government from the President down. Mr. Lincoln paused and asked him what was the matter. ‘Matter enough,’ was the reply. ‘I want my money. I have been discharged here, and can’t get my pay.’ Mr. Lincoln asked if he had his papers, saying that he used to practice law in a small way, and possibly could help him.

“My friend and I stepped behind some convenient shrubbery where we could watch the result. Mr. Lincoln took the papers from the hands of the crippled soldier, and sat down with him at the foot of a convenient tree, where he examined them carefully, and writing a line on the back, told the soldier to take them to Mr. Potts, Chief Clerk of the War Department, who would doubtless attend to the matter at once.

“After Mr. Lincoln had left the soldier, we stepped out and asked him if he knew whom he had been talking with. ‘Some ugly old fellow who pretends to be a lawyer,’ was the reply. My companion asked to see the papers, and on their being handed to him, pointed to the indorsement they had received: This indorsement read

“‘Mr. Potts, attend to this man’s case at once and see that he gets his pay. A. L.'”


The following story illustrates the power of Mr. Lincoln’s memory of names and faces. When he was a comparatively young man, and a candidate for the Illinois Legislature, he made a personal canvass of the district. While “swinging around the circle” he stopped one day and took dinner with a farmer in Sangamon county.

Years afterward, when Mr. Lincoln had become President, a soldier came to call on him at the White House. At the first glance the Chief Executive said: “Yes, I remember; you used to live on the Danville road. I took dinner with you when I was running for the Legislature. I recollect that we stood talking out at the barnyard gate while I sharpened my jackknife.”

“Y-a-a-s,” drawled the soldier, “you did. But say, wherever did you put that whetstone? I looked for it a dozen times, but I never could find it after the day you used it. We allowed as how mabby you took it ‘long with you.”

“No,” said Lincoln, looking serious and pushing away a lot of documents of state from the desk in front of him. “No, I put it on top of that gatepost–that high one.”

“Well!” exclaimed the visitor, “mabby you did. Couldn’t anybody else have put it there, and none of us ever thought of looking there for it.”

The soldier was then on his way home, and when he got there the first thing he did was to look for the whetstone. And sure enough, there it was, just where Lincoln had laid it fifteen years before. The honest fellow wrote a letter to the Chief Magistrate, telling him that the whetstone had been found, and would never be lost again.


When Abe Lincoln used to be drifting around the country, practicing law in Fulton and Menard counties, Illinois, an old fellow met him going to Lewiston, riding a horse which, while it was a serviceable enough animal, was not of the kind to be truthfully called a fine saddler. It was a weatherbeaten nag, patient and plodding, and it toiled along with Abe–and Abe’s books, tucked away in saddle-bags, lay heavy on the horse’s flank.

“Hello, Uncle Tommy,” said Abe.

“Hello, Abe,” responded Uncle Tommy. “I’m powerful glad to see ye, Abe, fer I’m gwyne to have sumthin’ fer ye at Lewiston co’t, I reckon.”

“How’s that, Uncle Tommy?” said Abe.

“Well, Jim Adams, his land runs ‘long o’ mine, he’s pesterin’ me a heap an’ I got to get the law on Jim, I reckon.”

“Uncle Tommy, you haven’t had any fights with Jim, have you?”


“He’s a fair to middling neighbor, isn’t he?”

“Only tollable, Abe.”

“He’s been a neighbor of yours for a long time, hasn’t he?”

“Nigh on to fifteen year.”

“Part of the time you get along all right, don’t you?”

“I reckon we do, Abe.”

“Well, now, Uncle Tommy, you see this horse of mine? He isn’t as good a horse as I could straddle, and I sometimes get out of patience with him, but I know his faults. He does fairly well as horses go, and it might take me a long time to get used to some other horse’s faults. For all horses have faults. You and Uncle Jimmy must put up with each other as I and my horse do with one another.”

“I reckon, Abe,” said Uncle Tommy, as he bit off about four ounces of Missouri plug. “I reckon you’re about right.”

And Abe Lincoln, with a smile on his gaunt face, rode on toward Lewiston.


When Mr. Lincoln visited New York in 1860, he felt a great interest in many of the institutions for reforming criminals and saving the young from a life of crime. Among others, he visited, unattended, the Five Points House of Industry, and the superintendent of the Sabbath school there gave the following account of the event:

“One Sunday morning I saw a tall, remarkable-looking man enter the room and take a seat among us. He listened with fixed attention to our exercises, and his countenance expressed such genuine interest that I approached him and suggested that he might be willing to say something to the children. He accepted the invitation with evident pleasure, and coming forward began a simple address, which at once fascinated every little hearer and hushed the room into silence. His language was strikingly beautiful, and his tones musical with intense feeling. The little faces would droop into sad conviction when he uttered sentences of warning, and would brighten into sunshine as he spoke cheerful words of promise. Once or twice he attempted to close his remarks, but the imperative shout of, ‘Go on! Oh, do go on!’ would compel him to resume.

“As I looked upon the gaunt and sinewy frame of the stranger, and marked his powerful head and determined features, now touched into softness by the impressions of the moment, I felt an irrepressible curiosity to learn something more about him, and while he was quietly leaving the room, I begged to know his name. He courteously replied: ‘It is Abraham Lincoln, from Illinois.'”


A slight variation of the traditional sentry story is related by C. C. Buel. It was a cold, blusterous winter night. Says Mr. Buel:

“Mr. Lincoln emerged from the front door, his lank figure bent over as he drew tightly about his shoulders the shawl which he employed for such protection; for he was on his way to the War Department, at the west corner of the grounds, where in times of battle he was wont to get the midnight dispatches from the field. As the blast struck him he thought of the numbness of the pacing sentry, and, turning to him, said: ‘Young man, you’ve got a cold job to-night; step inside, and stand guard there.’

“‘My orders keep me out here,’ the soldier replied.

“‘Yes,’ said the President, in his argumentative tone; ‘but your duty can be performed just as well inside as out here, and you’ll oblige me by going in.’

“‘I have been stationed outside,’ the soldier answered, and resumed his beat.

“‘Hold on there!’ said Mr. Lincoln, as he turned back again; ‘it occurs to me that I am Commander-in-Chief of the army, and I order you to go inside.'”


Perhaps the majority of people in the United States don’t know why Lincoln “growed” whiskers after his first nomination for the Presidency. Before that time his face was clean shaven.

In the beautiful village of Westfield, Chautauqua county, New York, there lived, in 1860, little Grace Bedell. During the campaign of that year she saw a portrait of Lincoln, for whom she felt the love and reverence that was common in Republican families, and his smooth, homely face rather disappointed her. She said to her mother: “I think, mother, that Mr. Lincoln would look better if he wore whiskers, and I mean to write and tell him so.”

The mother gave her permission.

Grace’s father was a Republican; her two brothers were Democrats. Grace wrote at once to the “Hon. Abraham Lincoln, Esq., Springfield, Illinois,” in which she told him how old she was, and where she lived; that she was a Republican; that she thought he would make a good President, but would look better if he would let his whiskers grow. If he would do so, she would try to coax her brothers to vote for him. She thought the rail fence around the picture of his cabin was very pretty. “If you have not time to answer my letter, will you allow your little girl to reply for you?”

Lincoln was much pleased with the letter, and decided to answer it, which he did at once, as follows:

“Springfield, Illinois, October i9, 1860.

“Miss Grace Bedell.

“My Dear Little Miss: Your very agreeable letter of the fifteenth is received. I regret the necessity of saying I have no daughter. I have three sons; one seventeen, one nine and one seven years of age. They, with their mother, constitute my whole family. As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think people would call it a piece of silly affectation if I should begin it now? Your very sincere well-wisher, A. LINCOLN.”

When on the journey to Washington to be inaugurated, Lincoln’s train stopped at Westfield. He recollected his little correspondent and spoke of her to ex-Lieutenant Governor George W. Patterson, who called out and asked if Grace Bedell was present.

There was a large surging mass of people gathered about the train, but Grace was discovered at a distance; the crowd opened a pathway to the coach, and she came, timidly but gladly, to the President-elect, who told her that she might see that he had allowed his whiskers to grow at her request. Then, reaching out his long arms, he drew her up to him and kissed her. The act drew an enthusiastic demonstration of approval from the multitude.

Grace married a Kansas banker, and became Grace Bedell Billings.


Lincoln made his first appearance in society when he was first sent to Springfield, Ill., as a member of the State Legislature. It was not an imposing figure which he cut in a ballroom, but still he was occasionally to be found there. Miss Mary Todd, who afterward became his wife, was the magnet which drew the tall, awkward young man from his den. One evening Lincoln approached Miss Todd, and said, in his peculiar idiom:

“Miss Todd, I should like to dance with you the worst way.” The young woman accepted the inevitable, and hobbled around the room with him. When she returned to her seat, one of her companions asked mischievously

“Well, Mary, did he dance with you the worst way.”

“Yes,” she answered, “the very worst.”


An instance of young Lincoln’s practical humanity at an early period of his life is recorded in this way:

One evening, while returning from a “raising” in his wide neighborhood, with a number of companions, he discovered a stray horse, with saddle and bridle upon him. The horse was recognized as belonging to a man who was accustomed to get drunk, and it was suspected at once that he was not far off. A short search only was necessary to confirm the belief.

The poor drunkard was found in a perfectly helpless condition, upon the chilly ground. Abraham’s companions urged the cowardly policy of leaving him to his fate, but young Lincoln would not hear to the proposition.

At his request, the miserable sot was lifted on his shoulders, and he actually carried him eighty rods to the nearest house.

Sending word to his father that he should not be back that night, with the reason for his absence, he attended and nursed the man until the morning, and had the pleasure of believing that he had saved his life.


On one occasion, exasperated at the discrepancy between the aggregate of troops forwarded to McClellan and the number that same general reported as having received, Lincoln exclaimed: “Sending men to that army is like shoveling fleas across a barnyard–half of them never get there.”

To a politician who had criticised his course, he wrote: “Would you have me drop the War where it is, or would you prosecute it in future with elder stalk squirts charged with rosewater?”

When, on his first arrival in Washington as President, he found himself besieged by office-seekers, while the War was breaking out, he said: “I feel like a man letting lodgings at one end of his house while the other end is on fire.”


Ward Lamon, Marshal of the District of Columbia during Lincoln’s time in Washington, accompanied the President everywhere. He was a good singer, and, when Lincoln was in one of his melancholy moods, would “fire a few rhythmic shots” at the President to cheer the latter. Lincoln keenly relished nonsense in the shape of witty or comic ditties. A parody of “A Life on the Ocean Wave” was always pleasing to him:

“Oh, a life on the ocean wave,
And a home on the rolling deep!
With ratlins fried three times a day And a leaky old berth for to sleep;
Where the gray-beard cockroach roams, On thoughts of kind intent,
And the raving bedbug comes
The road the cockroach went.”

Lincoln could not control his laughter when he heard songs of this sort.

He was fond of negro melodies, too, and “The Blue-Tailed Fly” was a great favorite with him. He often called for that buzzing ballad when he and Lamon were alone, and he wanted to throw off the weight of public and private cares. The ballad of “The Blue-Tailed Fly” contained two verses, which ran:

“When I was young I used to wait
At massa’s table, ‘n’ hand de plate, An’ pass de bottle when he was dry,
An’ brush away de blue-tailed fly.

“Ol’ Massa’s dead; oh, let him rest!
Dey say all things am for de best;
But I can’t forget until I die
Ol’ massa an’ de blue-tailed fly.”

While humorous songs delighted the President, he also loved to listen to patriotic airs and ballads containing sentiment. He was fond of hearing “The Sword of Bunker Hill,” “Ben Bolt,” and “The Lament of the Irish Emigrant.” His preference of the verses in the latter was this:

“I’m lonely now, Mary,
For the poor make no new friends;
But, oh, they love the better still The few our Father sends!
And you were all I had, Mary,
My blessing and my pride;
There’s nothing left to care for now, Since my poor Mary died.”

Those who knew Lincoln were well aware he was incapable of so monstrous an act as that of wantonly insulting the dead, as was charged in the infamous libel which asserted that he listened to a comic song on the field of Antietam, before the dead were buried.


Mr. Lincoln once remarked to a friend that his religion was like that of an old man named Glenn, in Indiana, whom he heard speak at a church meeting, and who said: “When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad; and that’s my religion.”

Mrs. Lincoln herself has said that Mr. Lincoln had no faith–no faith, in the usual acceptance of those words. “He never joined a church; but still, as I believe, he was a religious man by nature. He first seemed to think about the subject when our boy Willie died, and then more than ever about the time he went to Gettysburg; but it was a kind of poetry in his nature, and he never was a technical Christian.”


During the afternoon preceding his assassination the President signed a pardon for a soldier sentenced to be shot for desertion, remarking as he did so, “Well, I think the boy can do us more good above ground than under ground.”

He also approved an application for the discharge, on taking the oath of allegiance, of a rebel prisoner, in whose petition he wrote, “Let it be done.”

This act of mercy was his last official order.


The first corps of the army commanded by General Reynolds was once reviewed by the President on a beautiful plain at the north of Potomac Creek, about eight miles from Hooker’s headquarters. The party rode thither in an ambulance over a rough corduroy road, and as they passed over some of the more difficult portions of the jolting way the ambulance driver, who sat well in front, occasionally let fly a volley of suppressed oaths at his wild team of six mules.

Finally, Mr. Lincoln, leaning forward, touched the man on the shoulder and said

“Excuse me, my friend, are you an Episcopalian?”

The man, greatly startled, looked around and replied:

“No, Mr. President; I am a Methodist.”

“Well,” said Lincoln, “I thought you must be an Episcopalian, because you swear just like Governor Seward, who is a church warder.”


The first night after the departure of President-elect Lincoln from Springfield, on his way to Washington, was spent in Indianapolis. Governor Yates, O. H. Browning, Jesse K. Dubois, O. M. Hatch, Josiah Allen, of Indiana, and others, after taking leave of Mr. Lincoln to return to their respective homes, took Ward Lamon into a room, locked the door, and proceeded in the most solemn and impressive manner to instruct him as to his duties as the special guardian of Mr. Lincoln’s person during the rest of his journey to Washington. Lamon tells the story as follows:

“The lesson was concluded by Uncle Jesse, as Mr. Dubois was commonly, called, who said:

“‘Now, Lamon, we have regarded you as the Tom Hyer of Illinois, with Morrissey attachment. We intrust the sacred life of Mr. Lincoln to your keeping; and if you don’t protect it, never return to Illinois, for we will murder you on sight.”‘


Professor Jonathan Baldwin Turner was one of the few men to whom Mr. Lincoln confided his intention to issue the Proclamation of Emancipation.

Mr. Lincoln told his Illinois friend of the visit of a delegation to him who claimed to have a message from God that the War would not be successful without the freeing of the negroes, to whom Mr. Lincoln replied: “Is it not a little strange that He should tell this to you, who have so little to do with it, and should not have told me, who has a great deal to do with it?”

At the same time he informed Professor Turner he had his Proclamation in his pocket.


A writer who heard Mr. Lincoln’s famous speech delivered in New York after his nomination for President has left this record of the event:

“When Lincoln rose to speak, I was greatly disappointed. He was tall, tall, oh, so tall, and so angular and awkward that I had for an instant a feeling of pity for so ungainly a man. He began in a low tone of voice, as if he were used to speaking out of doors and was afraid of speaking too loud.

“He said ‘Mr. Cheerman,’ instead of ‘Mr. Chairman,’ and employed many other words with an old-fashioned pronunciation. I said to myself, ‘Old fellow, you won’t do; it is all very well for the Wild West, but this will never go down in New York.’ But pretty soon he began to get into the subject; he straightened up, made regular and graceful gestures; his face lighted as with an inward fire; the whole man was transfigured.

“I forgot the clothing, his personal appearance, and his individual peculiarities. Presently, forgetting myself, I was on my feet with the rest, yelling like a wild Indian, cheering the wonderful man. In the close parts of his argument you could hear the gentle sizzling of the gas burners.

“When he reached a climax the thunders of applause were terrific. It was a great speech. When I came out of the hall my face was glowing with excitement and my frame all a-quiver. A friend, with his eyes aglow, asked me what I thought of ‘Abe’ Lincoln, the rail-splitter. I said, ‘He’s the greatest man since St. Paul.’ And I think so yet.”


President Lincoln one day noticed a small, pale, delicate-looking boy, about thirteen years old, among the number in the White House antechamber.

The President saw him standing there, looking so feeble and faint, and said: “Come here, my boy, and tell me what you want.”

The boy advanced, placed his hand on the arm of the President’s chair, and, with a bowed head and timid accents, said: “Mr. President, I have been a drummer boy in a regiment for two years, and my colonel got angry with me and turned me off. I was taken sick and have been a long time in the hospital.”

The President discovered that the boy had no home, no father–he had died in the army–no mother.

“I have no father, no mother, no brothers, no sisters, and,” bursting into tears, “no friends–nobody cares for me.”

Lincoln’s eyes filled with tears, and the boy’s heart was soon made glad by a request to certain officials “to care for this poor boy.”


One of the most noted murder cases in which Lincoln defended the accused was tried in August, 1859. The victim, Crafton, was a student in his own law office, the defendant, “Peachy” Harrison, was a grandson of Rev. Peter Cartwright; both were connected with the best families in the county; they were brothers-in-law, and had always been friends.

Senator John M. Palmer and General John A. McClelland were on the side of the prosecution. Among those who represented the defendant were Lincoln and Senator Shelby M. Cullom. The two young men had engaged in a political quarrel, and Crafton was stabbed to death by Harrison. The tragic pathos of a case which involved the deepest affections of almost an entire community reached its climax in the appearance in court of the venerable Peter Cartwright. Lincoln had beaten him for Congress in 1846.

Eccentric and aggressive as he was, he was honored far and wide; and when he arose to take the witness stand, his white hair crowned with this cruel sorrow, the most indifferent spectator felt that his examination would be unbearable.

It fell to Lincoln to question Cartwright. With the rarest gentleness he began to put his questions.

“How long have you known the prisoner?”

Cartwright’s head dropped on his breast for a moment; then straightening himself, he passed his hand across his eyes and answered in a deep, quavering voice:

“I have known him since a babe, he laughed and cried on my knee.”

The examination ended by Lincoln drawing from the witness the story of how Crafton had said to him, just before his death: “I am dying; I will soon part with all I love on earth, and I want you to say to my slayer that I forgive him. I want to leave this earth with a forgiveness of all who have in any way injured me.”

This examination made a profound impression on the jury. Lincoln closed his argument by picturing the scene anew, appealing to the jury to practice the same forgiving spirit that the murdered man had shown on his death-bed. It was undoubtedly to his handling of the grandfather’s evidence that Harrison’s acquittal was due.


During the War Congress appropriated $10,000 to be expended by the President in defending United States Marshals in cases of arrests and seizures where the legality of their actions was tested in the courts. Previously the Marshals sought the assistance of the Attorney-General in defending them, but when they found that the President had a fund for that purpose they sought to control the money.

In speaking of these Marshals one day, Mr. Lincoln said:

“They are like a man in Illinois, whose cabin was burned down, and, according to the kindly custom of early days in the West, his neighbors all contributed something to start him again. In his case they had been so liberal that he soon found himself better off than before the fire, and he got proud. One day a neighbor brought him a bag of oats, but the fellow refused it with scorn.

“‘No,’ said he, ‘I’m not taking oats now. I take nothing but money.'”


The resistance to the military draft of 1863 by the City of New York, the result of which was the killing of several thousand persons, was illustrated on August 29th, 1863, by “Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper,” over the title of “The Naughty Boy, Gotham, Who Would Not Take the Draft.” Beneath was also the text:

MAMMY LINCOLN: “There now, you bad boy, acting that way, when your little sister Penn (State of Pennsylvania) takes hers like a lady!”

Horatio Seymour was then Governor of New York, and a prominent “the War is a failure” advocate. He was in Albany, the State capital, when the riots broke out in the City of New York, July 13th, and after the mob had burned the Colored Orphan Asylum and killed several hundred negroes, came to the city. He had only soft words for the rioters, promising them that the draft should be suspended. Then the Government sent several regiments of veterans, fresh from the field of Gettysburg, where they had assisted in defeating Lee. These troops made short work of the brutal ruffians, shooting down three thousand or so of them, and the rioting was subdued. The “Naughty Boy Gotham” had to take his medicine, after all, but as the spirit of opposition to the War was still rampant, the President issued a proclamation suspending the writ of habeas corpus in all the States of the Union where the Government had control. This had a quieting effect upon those who were doing what they could in obstructing the Government.


Mr. Lincoln had advised Lieutenant-General Winfield Scott, commanding the United States Army, of the threats of violence on inauguration day, 1861. General Scott was sick in bed at Washington when Adjutant-General Thomas Mather, of Illinois, called upon him in President-elect Lincoln’s behalf, and the veteran commander was much wrought up. Said he to General Mather:

“Present my compliments to Mr. Lincoln when you return to Springfield, and tell him I expect him to come on to Washington as soon as he is ready; say to him that I will look after those Maryland and Virginia rangers myself. I will plant cannon at both ends of Pennsylvania avenue, and if any of them show their heads or raise a finger, I’ll blow them to h—.”


One day, when the President was with the troops who were fighting at the front, the wounded, both Union and Confederate, began to pour in.

As one stretcher was passing Lincoln, he heard the voice of a lad calling to his mother in agonizing tones. His great heart filled. He forgot the crisis of the hour. Stopping the carriers, he knelt, and bending over him, asked: “What can I do for you, my poor child?”

“Oh, you will do nothing for me,” he replied. “You are a Yankee. I cannot hope that my message to my mother will ever reach her.”

Lincoln, in tears, his voice full of tenderest love, convinced the boy of his sincerity, and he gave his good-bye words without reserve.

The President directed them copied, and ordered that they be sent that night, with a flag of truce, into the enemy’s lines.


When Mr. Lincoln made his famous humorous speech in Congress ridiculing General Cass, he began to speak from notes, but, as he warmed up, he left his desk and his notes, to stride down the alley toward the Speaker’s chair.

Occasionally, as he would complete a sentence amid shouts of laughter, he would return up the alley to his desk, consult his notes, take a sip of water and start off again.

Mr. Lincoln received many congratulations at the close, Democrats joining the Whigs in their complimentary comments.

One Democrat, however (who had been nicknamed “Sausage” Sawyer), didn’t enthuse at all.

“Sawyer,” asked an Eastern Representative, “how did you like the lanky Illinoisan’s speech? Very able, wasn’t it?”

“Well,” replied Sawyer, “the speech was pretty good, but I hope he won’t charge mileage on his travels while delivering it.”


The Virginia (Ill.) Enquirer, of March 1, 1879, tells this story:

“John McNamer was buried last Sunday, near Petersburg, Menard county. A long while ago he was Assessor and Treasurer of the County for several successive terms. Mr. McNamer was an early settler in that section, and, before the town of Petersburg was laid out, in business in Old Salem, a village that existed many years ago two miles south of the present site of Petersburg.

“‘Abe’ Lincoln was then postmaster of the place and sold whisky to its inhabitants. There are old-timers yet living in Menard who bought many a jug of corn-juice from ‘Old Abe’ when he lived at Salem. It was here that Anne Rutledge dwelt, and in whose grave Lincoln wrote that his heart was buried.

“As the story runs, the fair and gentle Anne was originally John McNamer’s sweetheart, but ‘Abe’ took a ‘shine’ to the young lady, and succeeded in heading off McNamer and won her affections. But Anne Rutledge died, and Lincoln went to Springfield, where he some time afterwards married.

“It is related that during the War a lady belonging to a prominent Kentucky family visited Washington to beg for her son’s pardon, who was then in prison under sentence of death for belonging to a band of guerrillas who had committed many murders and outrages.

“With the mother was her daughter, a beautiful young lady, who was an accomplished musician. Mr. Lincoln received the visitors in his usual kind manner, and the mother made known the object of her visit, accompanying her plea with tears and sobs and all the customary romantic incidents.

“There were probably extenuating circumstances in favor of the young rebel prisoner, and while the President seemed to be deeply pondering the young lady moved to a piano near by and taking a seat commenced to sing ‘Gentle Annie,’ a very sweet and pathetic ballad which, before the War, was a familiar song in almost every household in the Union, and is not yet entirely forgotten, for that matter.

“It is to be presumed that the young lady sang the song with more plaintiveness and effect than ‘Old Abe’ had ever heard it in Springfield. During its rendition, he arose from his seat, crossed the room to a window in the westward, through which he gazed for several minutes with a ‘sad, far-away look,’ which has so often been noted as one of his peculiarities.

“His memory, no doubt, went back to the days of his humble life on the Sangamon, and with visions of Old Salem and its rustic people, who once gathered in his primitive store, came a picture of the ‘Gentle Annie’ of his youth, whose ashes had rested for many long years under the wild flowers and brambles of the old rural burying-ground, but whose spirit then, perhaps, guided him to the side of mercy.

“Be that as it may, President Lincoln drew a large red silk handkerchief from his coatpocket, with which he wiped his face vigorously. Then he turned, advanced quickly to his desk, wrote a brief note, which he handed to the lady, and informed her that it was the pardon she sought.

“The scene was no doubt touching in a great degree and proves that a nice song, well sung, has often a powerful influence in recalling tender recollections. It proves, also, that Abraham Lincoln was a man of fine feelings, and that, if the occurrence was a put-up job on the lady’s part, it accomplished the purpose all the same.”


Lincoln made a political speech at Pappsville, Illinois, when a candidate for the Legislature the first time. A free-for-all fight began soon after the opening of the meeting, and Lincoln, noticing one of his friends about to succumb to the energetic attack of an infuriated ruffian, edged his way through the crowd, and, seizing the bully by the neck and the seat of his trousers, threw him, by means of his strength and long arms, as one witness stoutly insists, “twelve feet away.” Returning to the stand, and throwing aside his hat, he inaugurated his campaign with the following brief but pertinent declaration

“Fellow-citizens, I presume you all know who I am. I am humble Abraham Lincoln. I have been solicited by many friends to become a candidate for the Legislature. My politics are short and sweet, like the old woman’s dance. I am in favor of the national bank; I am in favor of the internal improvement system and a high protective tariff. These are my sentiments; if elected, I shall be thankful; if not, it will be all the same.”


One day, when President Lincoln was alone and busily engaged on an important subject, involving vexation and anxiety, he was disturbed by the unwarranted intrusion of three men, who, without apology, proceeded to lay their claim before him.

The spokesman of the three reminded the President that they were the owners of some torpedo or other warlike invention which, if the government would only adopt it, would soon crush the rebellion.

“Now,” said the spokesman, “we have been here to see you time and again; you have referred us to the Secretary of War, the Chief of Ordnance, and the General of the Army, and they give us no satisfaction. We have been kept here waiting, till money and patience are exhausted, and we now come to demand of you a final reply to our application.”

Mr. Lincoln listened to this insolent tirade, and at its close the old twinkle came into his eye.

“You three gentlemen remind me of a story I once heard,” said he, “of a poor little boy out West who had lost his mother. His father wanted to give him a religious education, and so placed him in the family of a clergyman, whom he directed to instruct the little fellow carefully in the Scriptures. Every day the boy had to commit to memory and recite one chapter of the Bible. Things proceeded smoothly until they reached that chapter which details the story of the trial of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace. When asked to repeat these three names the boy said he had forgotten them.

“His teacher told him that he must learn them, and gave him another day to do so. The next day the boy again forgot them.

“‘Now,’ said the teacher, ‘you have again failed to remember those names and you can go no farther until you have learned them. I will give you another day on this lesson, and if you don’t repeat the names I will punish you.’

“A third time the boy came to recite, and got down to the stumbling block, when the clergyman said: ‘Now tell me the names of the men in the fiery furnace.’

“‘Oh,’ said the boy, ‘here come those three infernal bores! I wish the devil had them!'”

Having received their “final answer,” the three patriots retired, and at the Cabinet meeting which followed, the President, in high good humor, related how he had dismissed his unwelcome visitors.


In the Chicago Convention of 1860 the fight for Seward was maintained with desperate resolve until the final ballot was taken. Thurlow Weed was the Seward leader, and he was simply incomparable as a master in handling a convention. With him were Governor Morgan, Henry J. Raymond, of the New York Times, with William M. Evarts as chairman of the New York delegation, whose speech nominating Seward was the most impressive utterance of his life. The Bates men (Bates was afterwards Lincoln’s Attorney-General) were led by Frank Blair, the only Republican Congressman from a slave State, who was nothing if not heroic, aided by his brother Montgomery (afterwards Lincoln’s Postmaster General), who was a politician of uncommon cunning. With them was Horace Greeley, who was chairman of the delegation from the then almost inaccessible State of Oregon.

It was Lincoln’s friends, however, who were the “hustlers” of that battle. They had men for sober counsel like David Davis; men of supreme sagacity like Leonard Swett; men of tireless effort like Norman B. Judd; and they had what was more important than all–a seething multitude wild with enthusiasm for “Old Abe.”


On one occasion when Mr. Lincoln was going to attend a political convention one of his rivals, a liveryman, provided him with a slow horse, hoping that he would not reach his destination in time. Mr. Lincoln got there, however, and when he returned with the horse he said: “You keep this horse for funerals, don’t you?” “Oh, no,” replied the liveryman. “Well, I’m glad of that, for if you did you’d never get a corpse to the grave in time for the resurrection.”


General McClellan, after being put in command of the Army, resented any “interference” by the President. Lincoln, in his anxiety to know the details of the work in the army, went frequently to McClellan’s headquarters. That the President had a serious purpose in these visits McClellan did not see.

“I enclose a card just received from ‘A. Lincoln,'” he wrote to his wife one day; “it shows too much deference to be seen outside.”

In another letter to Mrs. McClellan he spoke of being “interrupted” by the President and Secretary Seward, “who had nothing in particular to say,” and again of concealing himself “to dodge all enemies in shape of ‘browsing’ Presidents,” etc.

“I am becoming daily more disgusted with this Administration– perfectly sick of it,” he wrote early in October; and a few days later, “I was obliged to attend a meeting of the Cabinet at 8 P. M., and was bored and annoyed. There are some of the greatest geese in the Cabinet I have ever seen–enough to tax the patience of Job.”


At a Cabinet meeting once, the advisability of putting a legend on
greenbacks similar to the In God We Trust legend on the silver coins was discussed, and the President was asked what his view was. He replied: “If you are going to put a legend on the greenback, I would suggest that of Peter and Paul: ‘Silver and gold we have not, but what we have we’ll give you.'”


One of Mr. Lincoln’s notable religious utterances was his reply to a deputation of colored people at Baltimore who presented him a Bible. He said:

“In regard to the great book, I have only to say it is the best gift which God has ever given man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through this book. But for this book we could not know right from wrong. All those things desirable to man are contained in it.”


When Lincoln was President he told this story of the Black Hawk War:

The only time he ever saw blood in this campaign, was one morning when, marching up a little valley that makes into the Rock River bottom, to reinforce a squad of outposts that were thought to be in danger, they came upon the tent occupied by the other party just at sunrise. The men had neglected to place any guard at night, and had been slaughtered in their sleep.

As the reinforcing party came up the slope on which the camp had been made, Lincoln saw them all lying with their heads towards the rising sun, and the round red spot that marked where they had been scalped gleamed more redly yet in the ruddy light of the sun. This scene years afterwards he recalled with a shudder.


For a while during the Civil War, General Fremont was without a command. One day in discussing Fremont’s case with George W. Julian, President Lincoln said he did not know where to place him, and that it reminds him of the old man who advised his son to take a wife, to which the young man responded: “All right; whose wife shall I take?”


On April 14, 1865, a few hours previous to his assassination, President Lincoln sent a message by Congressman Schuyler Colfax, Vice-President during General Grant’s first term, to the miners in the Rocky Mountains and the regions bounded by the Pacific ocean, in which he said:

“Now that the Rebellion is overthrown, and we know pretty nearly the amount of our National debt, the more gold and silver we mine,
we make the payment of that debt so much easier.

“Now I am going to encourage that in every possible way. We shall have hundreds of thousands of disbanded soldiers, and many have feared that their return home in such great numbers might paralyze industry by furnishing, suddenly, a greater supply of labor than there will be demand for. I am going to try to attract them to the hidden wealth of our mountain ranges, where there is room enough for all. Immigration, which even the War has not stopped, will land upon our shores hundreds of thousands more per year from overcrowded Europe. I intend to point them to the gold and silver that wait for them in the West.

“Tell the miners for me that I shall promote their interests to the utmost of my ability; because their prosperity as the prosperity of the nation; and,” said he, his eye kindling with enthusiasm, “we shall prove, in a very few years, that we are indeed the treasury of the world.”


President Lincoln made a significant remark to a clergyman in the early days of the War.

“Let us have faith, Mr. President,” said the minister, “that the Lord is on our side in this great struggle.”

Mr. Lincoln quietly answered: “I am not at all concerned about that, for I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right; but it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation may be on the Lord’s side.”


It was Lincoln’s custom to hold an informal reception once a week, each caller taking his turn.

Upon one of these eventful days an old friend from Illinois stood in line for almost an hour. At last he was so near the President his voice could reach him, and, calling out to his old associate, he startled every one by exclaiming, “Hallo, ‘Abe’; how are ye? I’m in line and hev come for an orfice, too.”

Lincoln singled out the man with the stentorian voice, and recognizing

“a particularly old friend, one whose wife had befriended him at a peculiarly trying time, the President responded to his greeting in a cordial manner, and told him “to hang onto himself and not kick the traces. Keep in line and you’ll soon get here.”

They met and shook hands with the old fervor and renewed their friendship.

The informal reception over, Lincoln sent for his old friend, and the latter began to urge his claims.

After having given him some good advice, Lincoln kindly told him he was incapable of holding any such position as he asked for. The disappointment of the Illinois friend was plainly shown, and with a perceptible tremor in his voice he said, “Martha’s dead, the gal is married, and I’ve guv Jim the forty.”

Then looking at Lincoln he came a little nearer and almost whispered, “I knowed I wasn’t eddicated enough to git the place, but I kinder want to stay where I ken see ‘Abe’ Lincoln.”

He was given employment in the White House grounds.

Afterwards the President said, “These brief interviews, stripped of even the semblance of ceremony, give me a better insight into the real character of the person and his true reason for seeking one.”


William H. Seward, idol of the Republicans of the East, six months after Lincoln had made his “Divided House” speech, delivered an address at Rochester, New York, containing this famous sentence:

“It is an irrepressible conflict between opposing and enduring forces, and it means that the United States must, and will, sooner or later, become either entirely a slave-holding nation, or entirely a free-labor nation.”

Seward, who had simply followed in Lincoln’s steps, was defeated for the Presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention of 1860, because he was “too radical,” and Lincoln, who was still “radicaler,” was named.


The chief interest of the Illinois campaign of 1843 lay in the race for Congress in the Capital district, which was between Hardin–fiery, eloquent, and impetuous Democrat–and Lincoln– plain, practical, and ennobled Whig. The world knows the result. Lincoln was elected.

It is not so much his election as the manner in which he secured his nomination with which we have to deal. Before that ever-memorable spring Lincoln vacillated between the courts of Springfield, rated as a plain, honest, logical Whig, with no ambition higher politically than to occupy some good home office.

Late in the fall of 1842 his name began to be mentioned in connection with Congressional aspirations, which fact greatly annoyed the leaders of his political party, who had already selected as the Whig candidate E. D. Baker, afterward the gallant Colonel who fell so bravely and died such an honorable death on the battlefield of Ball’s Bluff.

Despite all efforts of his opponents within his party, the name of the “gaunt railsplitter” was hailed with acclaim by the masses, to whom he had endeared himself by his witticisms, honest tongue, and quaint philosophy when on the stump, or mingling with them in their homes.

The convention, which met in early spring, in the city of Springfield, was to be composed of the usual number of delegates. The contest for the nomination was spirited and exciting.

A few weeks before the meeting of the convention the fact was found by the leaders that the advantage lay with Lincoln, and that unless they pulled some very fine wires nothing could save Baker.

They attempted to play the game that has so often won, by “convincing” delegates under instructions for Lincoln to violate them, and vote for Baker. They had apparently succeeded.

“The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley.” So it was in this case. Two days before the convention Lincoln received an intimation of this, and, late at night, wrote the following letter.

The letter was addressed to Martin Morris, who resided at Petersburg, an intimate friend of his, and by him circulated among those who were instructed for him at the county convention.

It had the desired effect. The convention met, the scheme of the conspirators miscarried, Lincoln was nominated, made a vigorous canvass, and was triumphantly elected, thus paving the way for his more extended and brilliant conquests.

This letter, Lincoln had often told his friends, gave him ultimately the Chief Magistracy of the nation. He has also said, that, had he been beaten before the convention, he would have been forever obscured. The following is a verbatim copy of the epistle

“April 14, 1843.

“Friend Morris: I have heard it intimated that Baker is trying to get you or Miles, or both of you, to violate the instructions of the meeting that appointed you, and to go for him. I have insisted, and still insist, that this cannot be true.

“Sure Baker would not do the like. As well might Hardin ask me to vote for him in the convention.

“Again, it is said there will be an attempt to get instructions in your county requiring you to go for Baker. This is all wrong. Upon the same rule, why might I not fly from the decision against me at Sangamon and get up instructions to their delegates to go for me. There are at least 1,200 Whigs in the county that took no part, and yet I would as soon stick my head in the fire as attempt it.

“Besides, if any one should get the nomination by such extraordinary means, all harmony in the district would inevitably be lost. Honest Whigs (and very nearly all of them are honest) would not quietly abide such enormities.

“I repeat, such an attempt on Baker’s part cannot be true. Write me at Springfield how the matter is. Don’t show or speak of this letter.


Mr. Morris did show the letter, and Mr. Lincoln always thanked his stars that he did.


Mr. Lincoln’s favorite poem was “Oh! Why Should the Spirit of Mortal Be Proud?” written by William Knox, a Scotchman, although Mr. Lincoln never knew the author’s name. He once said to a friend:

“This poem has been a great favorite with me for years. It was first shown to me, when a young man, by a friend. I afterward saw it and cut it from a newspaper and learned it by heart. I would give a great deal to know who wrote it, but I have never been able to ascertain.”

“Oh! why should the spirit of mortal be proud?– Like a swift-fleeing meteor, a fastflying cloud, A flash of the lightning, a break of the wave, He passeth from life to his rest in the grave.

“The leaves of the oak and the willow shall fade, Be scattered around, and together be laid; And the young and the old, and the low and the high, Shall moulder to dust, and together shall lie.

“The infant a mother attended and loved; The mother, that infant’s affection who proved, The husband, that mother and infant who blessed– Each, all, are away to their dwellings of rest.

“The maid on whose cheek, on whose brow, in whose eye, Shone beauty and pleasure–her triumphs are by; And the memory of those who loved her and praised, Are alike from the minds of the living erased.

“The hand of the king, that the sceptre hath borne, The brow of the priest, that the mitre hath worn, The eye of the sage, and the heart of the brave, Are hidden and lost in the depths of the grave.

“The peasant, whose lot was to sow and to reap, The herdsman, who climbed with his goats up the steep; The beggar, who wandered in search of his bread, Have faded away like the grass that we tread.

“The saint, who enjoyed the communion of heaven, The sinner, who dared to remain unforgiven; The wise and the foolish, the guilty and just, Have quietly mingled their bones in the dust.

“So the multitude goes–like the flower or the weed That withers away to let others succeed; So the multitude comes–even those we behold, To repeat every tale that has often been told:

“For we are the same our fathers have been; We see the same sights our fathers have seen; We drink the same stream, we view the same sun, And run the same course our fathers have run.

“The thoughts we are thinking, our fathers would think; >From the death we are shrinking, our fathers would shrink; To the life we are clinging, they also would cling– But it speeds from us all like a bird on the wing.

“They loved–but the story we cannot unfold; They scorned–but the heart of the haughty is cold; They grieved–but no wail from their slumber will come; They joyed–but the tongue of their gladness is dumb.

“They died–aye, they died–and we things that are now, That walk on the turf that lies o’er their brow, And make in their dwellings a transient abode, Meet the things that they met on their pilgrimage road.

“Yea! hope and despondency, pleasure and pain, Are mingled together in sunshine and rain; And the smile and the tear, the song and the dirge, Still follow each other, like surge upon surge.

“‘Tis the wink of an eye,–’tis the draught of a breath;– >From the blossom of health to the paleness of death, >From the gilded saloon to the bier and the shroud:– Oh! why should the spirit of mortal be proud?”


President Lincoln had great doubt as to his right to emancipate the slaves under the War power. In discussing the question, he used to like the case to that of the boy who, when asked how many legs his calf would have if he called its tail a leg, replied, “five,” to which the prompt response was made that calling the tail a leg would not make it a leg.


The following is told by Thomas H. Nelson, of Terre Haute, Indiana, who was appointed minister to Chili by Lincoln:

Judge Abram Hammond, afterwards Governor of Indiana, and myself arranged to go from Terre Haute to Indianapolis in a stage-coach.

As we stepped in we discovered that the entire back seat was occupied by a long, lank individual, whose head seemd to protrude from one end of the coach and his feet from the other. He was the sole occupant, and was sleeping soundly. Hammond slapped him familiarly on the shoulder, and asked him if he had chartered the coach that day.

“Certainly not,” and he at once took the front seat, politely giving us the place of honor and comfort. An odd-looking fellow he was, with a twenty-five cent hat, without vest or cravat. Regarding him as a good subject for merriment, we perpetrated several jokes.

He took them all with utmost innocence and good nature, and joined in the laugh, although at his own expense.

After an astounding display of wordy pyrotechnics, the dazed and bewildered stranger asked, “What will be the upshot of this comet business?”

Late in the evening we reached Indianapolis, and hurried to Browning’s hotel, losing sight of the stranger altogether.

We retired to our room to brush our clothes. In a few minutes I descended to the portico, and there descried our long, gloomy fellow traveler in the center of an admiring group of lawyers, among whom were Judges McLean and Huntington, Albert S. White, and Richard W. Thompson, who seemed to be amused and interested in a story he was telling. I inquired of Browning, the landlord, who he was. “Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, a member of Congress,” was his response.

I was thunderstruck at the announcement. I hastened upstairs and told Hammond the startling news, and together we emerged from the hotel by a back door, and went down an alley to another house, thus avoiding further contact with our distinguished fellow traveler.

Years afterward, when the President-elect was on his way to Washington, I was in the same hotel looking over the distinguished party, when a long arm reached to my shoulder, and a shrill voice exclaimed, “Hello, Nelson! do you think, after all, the whole world is going to follow the darned thing off?” The words were my own in answer to his question in the stage-coach. The speaker was Abraham Lincoln.


Lincoln had periods while “clerking” in the New Salem grocery store during which there was nothing for him to do, and was therefore in circumstances that made laziness almost inevitable. Had people come to him for goods, they would have found him willing to sell them. He sold all that he could, doubtless.

The store soon became the social center of the village. If the people did not care (or were unable) to buy goods, they liked to go where they could talk with their neighbors and listen to stories. These Lincoln gave them in abundance, and of a rare sort.

It was in these gatherings of the “Four Hundred” at the village store that Lincoln got his training as a debater. Public questions were discussed there daily and nightly, and Lincoln always took a prominent part in the discussions. Many of the debaters came to consider “Abe Linkin” as about the smartest man in the village.


Lincoln wanted men of level heads for important commands. Not infrequently he gave his generals advice.

He appreciated Hooker’s bravery, dash and activity, but was fearful of the results of what he denominated “swashing around.”

This was one of his telegrams to Hooker:

“And now, beware of rashness; beware of rashness, but, with energy and sleepless vigilance, go forward and give us victories.”


When the Confederate iron-clad Merrimac was sent against the Union vessels in Hampton Roads President Lincoln expressed his belief in the Monitor to Captain Fox, the adviser of Captain Ericsson, who constructed the Monitor. “We have three of the most effective vessels in Hampton Roads, and any number of small craft that will hang on the stern of the Merrimac like small dogs on the haunches of a bear. They may not be able to tear her down, but they will interfere with the comfort of her voyage. Her trial trip will not be a pleasure trip, I am certain.

“We have had a big share of bad luck already, but I do not believe the future has any such misfortunes in store for us as you anticipate.” Said Captain Fox: “If the Merrimac does not sink our ships, who is to prevent her from dropping her anchor in the Potomac, where that steamer lies,” pointing to a steamer at anchor below the long bridge, “and throwing her hundred-pound shells into this room, or battering down the walls of the Capitol?”

“The Almighty, Captain,” answered the President, excitedly, but without the least affectation. “I expect set-backs, defeats; we have had them and shall have them. They are common to all wars. But I have not the slightest fear of any result which shall fatally impair our military and naval strength, or give other powers any right to interfere in our quarrel. The destruction of the Capitol would do both.

“I do not fear it, for this is God’s fight, and He will win it in His own good time. He will take care that our enemies will not push us too far,

“Speaking of iron-clads,” said the President, “you do not seem to take the little Monitor into account. I believe in the Monitor and her commander. If Captain Worden does not give a good account of the Monitor and of himself, I shall have made a mistake in following my judgment for the first time since I have been here, Captain.

“I have not made a mistake in following my clear judgment of men since this War began. I followed that judgment when I gave Worden the command of the Monitor. I would make the appointment over again to-day. The Monitor should be in Hampton Roads now. She left New York eight days ago.”

After the captain had again presented what he considered the possibilities of failure the President replied, “No, no, Captain, I respect your judgments as you have reason to know, but this time you are all wrong.

“The Monitor was one of my inspirations; I believed in her firmly when that energetic contractor first showed me Ericsson’s plans. Captain Ericsson’s plain but rather enthusiastic demonstration made my conversion permanent. It was called a floating battery then; I called it a raft. I caught some of the inventor’s enthusiasm and it has been growing upon me. I thought then, and I am confident now, it is just what we want. I am sure that the Monitor is still afloat, and that she will yet give a good account of herself. Sometimes I think she may be the veritable sling with a stone that will yet smite the Merrimac Philistine in the forehead.”

Soon was the President’s judgment verified, for the “Fight of the Monitor and Merrimac” changed all the conditions of naval warfare.

After the victory was gained, the presiding Captain Fox and others went on board the Monitor, and Captain Worden was requested by the President to narrate the history of the encounter.

Captain Worden did so in a modest manner, and apologized for not being able better to provide for his guests. The President smilingly responded “Some charitable people say that old Bourbon is an indispensable element in the fighting qualities of some of our generals in the field, but, Captain, after the account that we have heard to-day, no one will say that any Dutch courage is needed on board the Monitor.”

“It never has been, sir,” modestly observed the captain.

Captain Fox then gave a description of what he saw of the engagement and described it as indescribably grand. Then, turning to the President, he continued, “Now standing here on the deck of this battle-scarred vessel, the first genuine iron-clad–the victor in the first fight of iron-clads–let me make a confession, and perform an act of simple justice.

“I never fully believed in armored vessels until I saw this battle.

“I know all the facts which united to give us the Monitor. I withhold no credit from Captain Ericsson, her inventor, but I know that the country is principally indebted for the construction of the vessel to President Lincoln, and for the success of her trial to Captain Worden, her commander.”


At one time a certain Major Hill charged Lincoln with making defamatory remarks regarding Mrs. Hill.

Hill was insulting in his language to Lincoln who never lost his temper.

When he saw his chance to edge a word in, Lincoln denied emphatically using the language or anything like that attributed to him.

He entertained, he insisted, a high regard for Mrs. Hill, and the only thing he knew to her discredit was the fact that she was Major Hill’s wife.


Among those who called to congratulate Mr. Lincoln upon his nomination for President was an old lady, very plainly dressed. She knew Mr. Lincoln, but Mr. Lincoln did not at first recognize her. Then she undertook to recall to his memory certain incidents connected with his ride upon the circuit–especially his dining at her house upon the road at different times. Then he remembered her and her home.

Having fixed her own place in his recollection, she tried to recall to him a certain scanty dinner of bread and milk that he once ate at her house. He could not remember it–on the contrary, he only remembered that he had always fared well at her house.

“Well,” she said, “one day you came along after we had got through dinner, and we had eaten up everything, and I could give you nothing but a bowl of bread and milk, and you ate it; and when you got up you said it was good enough for the President of the United States!”

The good woman had come in from the country, making a journey of