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  • 1900
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eight or ten miles, to relate to Mr. Lincoln this incident, which, in her mind, had doubtless taken the form of a prophecy. Mr. Lincoln placed the honest creature at her ease, chatted with her of old times, and dismissed her in the most happy frame of mind.


The story of naming the town of Lincoln, the county seat of Logan county, Illinois, is thus given on good authority:

The first railroad had been built through the county, and a station was about to be located there. Lincoln, Virgil Hitchcock, Colonel R. B. Latham and several others were sitting on a pile of ties and talking about moving a county seat from Mount Pulaski. Mr. Lincoln rose and started to walk away, when Colonel Latham said: “Lincoln, if you will help us to get the county seat here, we will call the place Lincoln.”

“All right, Latham,” he replied.

Colonel Latham then deeded him a lot on the west side of the courthouse, and he owned it at the time he was elected President.


“Jeff” Davis had a large and threatening nightmare in November, 1864, and what he saw in his troubled dreams was the long and lanky figure of Abraham Lincoln, who had just been endorsed by the people of the United States for another term in the White House at Washington. The cartoon reproduced here is from the issue of “Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper” of December 3rd, 1864, it being entitled “Jeff Davis’ November Nightmare.”

Davis had been told that McClellan, “the War is a failure” candidate for the Presidency, would have no difficulty whatever in defeating Lincoln; that negotiations with the Confederate officials for the cessation of hostilities would be entered into as soon as McClellan was seated in the Chief Executive’s chair; that the Confederacy would, in all probability, be recognized as an independent government by the Washington Administration; that the “sacred institution” of slavery would continue to do business at the old stand; that the Confederacy would be one of the great nations of the world, and have all the “State Rights” and other things it wanted, with absolutely no interference whatever upon the part of the North.

Therefore, Lincoln’s re-election was a rough, rude shock to Davis, who had not prepared himself for such an event. Six months from the date of that nightmare-dream he was a prisoner in the hands of the Union forces, and the Confederacy was a thing of the past.


Probably the last official act of President Lincoln’s life was the signing of the commission reappointing Alvin Saunders Governor of Nebraska.

“I saw Mr. Lincoln regarding the matter,” said Governor Saunders, “and he told me to go home; that he would attend to it all right. I left Washington on the morning of the 14th, and while en route the news of the assassination on the evening of the same day reached me. I immediately wired back to find out what had become of my commission, and was told that the room had not been opened. When it was opened, the document was found lying on the desk.

“Mr. Lincoln signed it just before leaving for the theater that fatal evening, and left it lying there, unfolded.

“A note was found below the document as follows: ‘Rather a lengthy commission, bestowing upon Mr. Alvin Saunders the official authority of Governor of the Territory of Nebraska.’ Then came Lincoln’s signature, which, with one exception, that of a penciled message on the back of a card sent up by a friend as Mr. Lincoln was dressing for the theater, was the very last signature of the martyred President.”


A personal friend of President Lincoln is authority for this:

“I called on him one day in the early part of the War. He had just written a pardon for a young man who had been sentenced to be shot for sleeping at his post. He remarked as he read it to me:

“‘I could not think of going into eternity with the blood of the poor young man on my skirts.’ Then he added:

“‘It is not to be wondered at that a boy, raised on a farm, probably in the habit of going to bed at dark, should, when required to watch, fall asleep; and I cannot consent to shoot him for such an act.'”


By the Act of Emancipation President Lincoln built for himself forever the first place in the affections of the African race in this country. The love and reverence manifested for him by many of these people has, on some occasions, almost reached adoration. One day Colonel McKaye, of New York, who had been one of a committee to investigate the condition of the freedmen, upon his return from Hilton Head and Beaufort called upon the President, and in the course of the interview said that up to the time of the arrival among them in the South of the Union forces they had no knowledge of any other power. Their masters fled upon the approach of our soldiers, and this gave the slaves the conception of a power greater than their masters exercised. This power they called “Massa Linkum.”

Colonel McKaye said their place of worship was a large building they called “the praise house,” and the leader of the “meeting,” a venerable black man, was known as “the praise man.”

On a certain day, when there was quite a large gathering of the people, considerable confusion was created by different persons attempting to tell who and what “Massa Linkum” was. In the midst of the excitement the white-headed leader commanded silence. “Brederen,” said he, “you don’t know nosen’ what you’se talkin’ ’bout. Now, you just listen to me. Massa Linkum, he ebery whar. He know ebery ting.”

Then, solemnly looking up, he added: “He walk de earf like de Lord!”


One of Lincoln’s most dearly loved friends, United States Senator Edward D. Baker, of Oregon, Colonel of the Seventy-first Pennsylvania, a former townsman of Mr. Lincoln, was killed at the battle of Ball’s Bluff, in October, 1861. The President went to General McClellan’s headquarters to hear the news, and a friend thus described the effect it had upon him:

“We could hear the click of the telegraph in the adjoining room and low conversation between the President and General McClellan, succeeded by silence, excepting the click, click of the instrument, which went on with its tale of disaster.

“Five minutes passed, and then Mr. Lincoln, unattended, with bowed head and tears rolling down his furrowed cheeks, his face pale and wan, his breast heaving with emotion, passed through the room. He almost fell as he stepped into the street. We sprang involuntarily from our seats to render assistance, but he did not fall.

“With both hands pressed upon his heart, he walked down the street, not returning the salute of the sentinel pacing his beat before the door.”


Lincoln never indulged in profanity, but confessed that when Lee was beaten at Malvern Hill, after seven days of fighting, and Richmond, but twelve miles away, was at McClellan’s mercy, he felt very much like swearing when he learned that the Union general had retired to Harrison’s Landing.

Lee was so confident his opponent would not go to Richmond that he took his army into Maryland–a move he would not have made had an energetic fighting man been in McClellan’s place.

It is true McClellan followed and defeated Lee in the bloodiest battle of the War–Antietam–afterwards following him into Virginia; but Lincoln could not bring himself to forgive the general’s inaction before Richmond.


President Lincoln said to General Sickles, just after the victory of Gettysburg: “The fact is, General, in the stress and pinch of the campaign there, I went to my room, and got down on my knees and prayed God Almighty for victory at Gettysburg. I told Him that this was His country, and the war was His war, but that we really couldn’t stand another Fredericksburg or Chancellorsville. And then and there I made a solemn vow with my Maker that if He would stand by you boys at Gettysburg I would stand by Him. And He did, and I will! And after this I felt that God Almighty had taken the whole thing into His hands.”


President Lincoln, having arranged to go to New York, was late for his train, much to the disgust of those who were to accompany him, and all were compelled to wait several hours until the next train steamed out of the station. President Lincoln was much amused at the dissatisfaction displayed, and then ventured the remark that the situation reminded him of “a little story.” Said he:

“Out in Illinois, a convict who had murdered his cellmate was sentenced to be hanged. On the day set for the execution, crowds lined the roads leading to the spot where the scaffold had been erected, and there was much jostling and excitement. The condemned man took matters coolly, and as one batch of perspiring, anxious men rushed past the cart in which he was riding, he called out, ‘Don’t be in a hurry, boys. You’ve got plenty of time. There won’t be any fun until I get there.’

“That’s the condition of things now,” concluded the President; “there won’t be any fun at New York until I get there.”


On the day the news of General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court-House was received, so an intimate friend of President Lincoln relates, the Cabinet meeting was held an hour earlier than usual. Neither the President nor any member of the Cabinet was able, for a time, to give utterance to his feelings. At the suggestion of Mr. Lincoln all dropped on their knees, and offered, in silence and in tears, their humble and heartfelt acknowledgments to the Almighty for the triumph He had granted to the National cause.


Mr. Lincoln was much impressed with the devotion and earnestness of purpose manifested by a certain lady of the “Christian Commission” during the War, and on one occasion, after she had discharged the object of her visit, said to her:

“Madam, I have formed a high opinion of your Christian character, and now, as we are alone, I have a mind to ask you to give me in brief your idea of what constitutes a true religious experience.”

The lady replied at some length, stating that, in her judgment, it consisted of a conviction of one’s own sinfulness and weakness, and a personal need of the Saviour for strength and support; that views of mere doctrine might and would differ, but when one was really brought to feel his need of divine help, and to seek the aid of the Holy Spirit for strength and guidance, it was satisfactory evidence of his having been born again. This was the substance of her reply.

When she had, concluded Mr. Lincoln was very thoughtful for a few moments. He at length said, very earnestly: “If what you have told me is really a correct view of this great subject I think I can say with sincerity that I hope I am a Christian. I had lived,” he continued, “until my boy Willie died without fully realizing these things. That blow overwhelmed me. It showed me my weakness as I had never felt it before, and if I can take what you have stated as a test I think I can safely say that I know something of that change of which you speak; and I will further add that it has been my intention for some time, at a suitable opportunity, to make a public religious profession.”


Mr. Lincoln once remarked to Mr. Noah Brooks, one of his most intimate personal friends: “I should be the most presumptuous blockhead upon this footstool if I for one day thought that I could discharge the duties which have come upon me, since I came to this place, without the aid and enlightenment of One who is stronger and wiser than all others.”

He said on another occasion: “I am very sure that if I do not go away from here a wiser man, I shall go away a better man, from having learned here what a very poor sort of a man I am.”


One night Schuyler Colfax left all other business to go to the White House to ask the President to respite the son of a constituent, who was sentenced to be shot, at Davenport, for desertion. Mr. Lincoln heard the story with his usual patience, though he was wearied out with incessant calls, and anxious for rest, and then replied:

“Some of our generals complain that I impair discipline and subordination in the army by my pardons and respites, but it makes me rested, after a hard day’s work, if I can find some good excuse for saving a man’s life, and I go to bed happy as I think how joyous the signing of my name will make him and his family and his friends.”

And with a happy smile beaming over that care-furrowed face, he signed that name that saved that life.


As the President and Mrs. Lincoln were leaving the White House, a few minutes before eight o’clock, on the evening of April 14th, 1865, Lincoln wrote this note:

“Allow Mr. Ashmun and friend to come to see me at 9 o’clock a. m., to-morrow, April 15th, 1865.”


One day during the War an attractively and handsomely dressed woman called on President Lincoln to procure the release from prison of a relation in whom she professed the deepest interest.

She was a good talker, and her winning ways seemed to make a deep impression on the President. After listening to her story, he wrote a few words on a card: “This woman, dear Stanton, is a little smarter than she looks to be,” enclosed it in an envelope and directed her to take it to the Secretary of War.

On the same day another woman called, more humble in appearance, more plainly clad. It was the old story.

Father and son both in the army, the former in prison. Could not the latter be discharged from the army and sent home to help his mother?

A few strokes of the pen, a gentle nod of the head, and the little woman, her eyes filling with tears and expressing a grateful acknowledgment her tongue, could not utter, passed out.

A lady so thankful for the release of her husband was in the act of kneeling in thankfulness. “Get up,” he said, “don’t kneel to me, but thank God and go.”

An old lady for the same reason came forward with tears in her eyes to express her gratitude. “Good-bye, Mr. Lincoln,” said she; “I shall probably never see you again till we meet in heaven.” She had the President’s hand in hers, and he was deeply moved. He instantly took her right hand in both of his, and, following her to the door, said, “I am afraid with all my troubles I shall never get to the resting-place you speak of; but if I do, I am sure I shall find you. That you wish me to get there is, I believe, the best wish you could make for me. Good-bye.”

Then the President remarked to a friend, “It is more than many can often say, that in doing right one has made two people happy in one day. Speed, die when I may, I want it said of me by those who know me best, that I have always plucked a thistle and planted a flower when I thought a flower would grow.”


The President remarked to Admiral David D. Porter, while on board the flagship Malvern, on the James River, in front of Richmond, the day the city surrendered:

“Thank God that I have lived to see this!

“It seems to me that I have been dreaming a horrid dream for four years, and now the nightmare is gone.

“I wish to see Richmond.”


Frederick Douglass told, in these words, of his first interview with President Lincoln:

“I approached him with trepidation as to how this great man might receive me; but one word and look from him banished all my fears and set me perfectly at ease. I have often said since that meeting that it was much easier to see and converse with a great man than it was with a small man.

“On that occasion he said:

“‘Douglass, you need not tell me who you are. Mr. Seward has told me all about you.’

“I then saw that there was no reason to tell him my personal story, however interesting it might be to myself or others, so I told him at once the object of my visit. It was to get some expression from him upon three points:

“1. Equal pay to colored soldiers.

“2. Their promotion when they had earned it on the battle-field.

“3. Should they be taken prisoners and enslaved or hanged, as Jefferson Davis had threatened, an equal number of Confederate prisoners should be executed within our lines.

“A declaration to that effect I thought would prevent the execution of the rebel threat. To all but the last, President Lincoln assented. He argued, however, that neither equal pay nor promotion could be granted at once. He said that in view of existing prejudices it was a great step forward to employ colored troops at all; that it was necessary to avoid everything that would offend this prejudice and increase opposition to the measure.

“He detailed the steps by which white soldiers were reconciled to the employment of colored troops; how these were first employed as laborers; how it was thought they should not be armed or uniformed like white soldiers; how they should only be made to wear a peculiar uniform; how they should be employed to hold forts and arsenals in sickly locations, and not enter the field like other soldiers.

“With all these restrictions and limitations he easily made me see that much would be gained when the colored man loomed before the country as a full-fledged United States soldier to fight, flourish or fall in defense of the united republic. The great soul of Lincoln halted only when he came to the point of retaliation.

“The thought of hanging men in cold blood, even though the rebels should murder a few of the colored prisoners, was a horror from which he shrank.

“‘Oh, Douglass! I cannot do that. If I could get hold of the actual murderers of colored prisoners I would retaliate; but to hang those who have no hand in such murders, I cannot.’

“The contemplation of such an act brought to his countenance such an expression of sadness and pity that it made it hard for me to press my point, though I told him it would tend to save rather than destroy life. He, however, insisted that this work of blood, once begun, would be hard to stop–that such violence would beget violence. He argued more like a disciple of Christ than a commander-in-chief of the army and navy of a warlike nation already involved in a terrible war.

“How sad and strange the fate of this great and good man, the saviour of his country, the embodiment of human charity, whose heart, though strong, was as tender as a heart of childhood; who always tempered justice with mercy; who sought to supplant the sword with counsel of reason, to suppress passion by kindness and moderation; who had a sigh for every human grief and a tear for every human woe, should at last perish by the hand of a desperate assassin, against whom no thought of malice had ever entered his heart!”


One of the campaign songs of 1860 which will never be forgotten was Whittier’s “The Quakers Are Out:–“

“Give the flags to the winds!
Set the hills all aflame!
Make way for the man with
The Patriarch’s name!
Away with misgivings–away
With all doubt,
For Lincoln goes in when the
Quakers are out!”

Speaking of this song (with which he was greatly pleased) one day at the White House, the President said: “It reminds me of a little story I heard years ago out in Illinois. A political campaign was on, and the atmosphere was kept at a high temperature. Several fights had already occurred, many men having been seriously hurt, and the prospects were that the result would be close. One of the candidates was a professional politician with a huge wart on his nose, this disfigurement having earned for him the nickname of ‘Warty.’ His opponent was a young lawyer who wore ‘biled’ shirts, ‘was shaved by a barber, and had his clothes made to fit him.

“Now, ‘Warty’ was of Quaker stock, and around election time made a great parade of the fact. When there were no campaigns in progress he was anything but Quakerish in his language or actions. The young lawyer didn’t know what the inside of a meeting house looked like.

“Well, the night before election-day the two candidates came together at a joint debate, both being on the speakers’ platform. The young lawyer had to speak after ‘Warty,’ and his reputation suffered at the hands of the Quaker, who told the many Friends present what a wicked fellow the young man was–never went to church, swore, drank, smoked and gambled.

“After ‘Warty’ had finished the other arose and faced the audience. ‘I’m not a good man,’ said he, ‘and what my opponent has said about me is true enough, but I’m always the same. I don’t profess religion when I run for office, and then turn around and associate with bad people when the campaign’s over. I’m no hypocrite. I don’t sing many psalms. Neither does my opponent; and, talking about singing, I’d just like to hear my friend who is running against me sing the song–for the benefit of this audience–I heard him sing the night after he was nominated. I yield the floor to him:

“Of course ‘Warty’ refused, his Quaker supporters grew suspicious, and when they turned out at the polls the following day they voted for the wicked young lawyer.

“So, it’s true that when ‘the Quakers are out’ the man they support is apt to go in.”


“General Blank asks for more men,” said Secretary of War Stanton to the President one day, showing the latter a telegram from the commander named appealing for re-enforcements.

“I guess he’s killed off enough men, hasn’t he?” queried the President.

“I don’t mean Confederates–our own men. What’s the use in sending volunteers down to him if they’re only used to fill graves?”

“His dispatch seems to imply that, in his opinion, you have not the confidence in him he thinks he deserves,” the War Secretary went on to say, as he looked over the telegram again.

“Oh,” was the President’s reply, “he needn’t lose any of his sleep on that account. Just telegraph him to that effect; also, that I don’t propose to send him any more men.”


During the progress of a Cabinet meeting the subject of food for the men in the Army happened to come up. From that the conversation changed to the study of the Latin language.

“I studied Latin once,” said Mr. Lincoln, in a casual way.

“Were you interested in it?” asked Mr. Seward, the Secretary of State.

“Well, yes. I saw some very curious things,” was the President’s rejoinder.

“What?” asked Secretary Seward.

“Well, there’s the word hominy, for instance. We have just ordered a lot of that stuff for the troops. I see how the word originated. I notice it came from the Latin word homo–a man.

“When we decline homo, it is:

“‘Homo–a man.

“‘Hominis–of man.

“‘Homini–for man.’

“So you see, hominy, being ‘for man,’ comes from the Latin. I guess those soldiers who don’t know Latin will get along with it all right–though I won’t rest real easy until I hear from the Commissary Department on it.”


One day, while listening to one of the wise men who had called at the White House to unload a large cargo of advice, the President interjected a remark to the effect that he had a great reverence for learning.

“This is not,” President Lincoln explained, “because I am not an educated man. I feel the need of reading. It is a loss to a man not to have grown up among books.”

“Men of force,” the visitor answered, “can get on pretty well without books. They do their own thinking instead of adopting what other men think.”

“Yes,” said Mr. Lincoln, “but books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new, after all.”

This was a point the caller was not willing to debate, and so he cut his call short.


Lincoln made his first speech when he was a mere boy, going barefoot, his trousers held up by one suspender, and his shock of hair sticking through a hole in the crown of his cheap straw hat.

“Abe,” in company with Dennis Hanks, attended a political meeting, which was addressed by a typical stump speaker–one of those loud-voiced fellows who shouted at the top of his voice and waved his arms wildly.

At the conclusion of the speech, which did not meet the views either of “Abe” or Dennis, the latter declared that “Abe” could make a better speech than that. Whereupon he got a dry-goods box and called on “Abe” to reply to the campaign orator.

Lincoln threw his old straw hat on the ground, and, mounting the dry-goods box, delivered a speech which held the attention of the crowd and won him considerable applause. Even the campaign orator admitted that it was a fine speech and answered every point in his own “oration.”

Dennis Hanks, who thought “Abe” was about the greatest man that ever lived, was delighted, and he often told how young “Abe” got the better of the trained campaign speaker.


It was in 1830, when “Abe” was just twenty-one years of age, that the Lincoln family moved from Gentryville, Indiana, to near Decatur, Illinois, their household goods being packed in a wagon drawn by four oxen driven by “Abe.”

The winter previous the latter had “worked” in a country store in Gentryville and before undertaking the journey he invested all the money he had–some thirty dollars–in notions, such as needles, pins, thread, buttons and other domestic necessities. These he sold to families along the route and made a profit of about one hundred per cent.

This mercantile adventure of his youth “reminded” the President of a very clever story while the members of the Cabinet were one day solemnly debating a rather serious international problem. The President was in the minority, as was frequently the case, and he was “in a hole,” as he afterwards expressed it. He didn’t want to argue the points raised, preferring to settle the matter in a hurry, and an apt story was his only salvation.

Suddenly the President’s fact brightened. “Gentlemen,” said he, addressing those seated at the Cabinet table, “the situation just now reminds me of a fix I got into some thirty years or so ago when I was peddling ‘notions’ on the way from Indiana to Illinois. I didn’t have a large stock, but I charged large prices, and I made money. Perhaps you don’t see what I am driving at?”

Secretary of State Seward was wearing a most gloomy expression of countenance; Secretary of War Stanton was savage and inclined to be morose; Secretary of the Treasury Chase was indifferent and cynical, while the others of the Presidential advisers resigned themselves to the hearing of the inevitable “story.”

“I don’t propose to argue this matter,” the President went on to say, “because arguments have no effect upon men whose opinions are fixed and whose minds are made up. But this little story of mine will make some things which now are in the dark show up more clearly.”

There was another pause, and the Cabinet officers, maintaining their previous silence, began wondering if the President himself really knew what he was “driving at.”

“Just before we left Indiana and crossed into Illinois,” continued Mr. Lincoln solemnly, speaking in a grave tone of voice, “we came across a small farmhouse full of nothing but children. These ranged in years from seventeen years to seventeen months, and all were in tears. The mother of the family was red-headed and red-faced, and the whip she held in her right hand led to the inference that she had been chastising her brood. The father of the family, a meek-looking, mild-mannered, tow-headed chap, was standing in the front door-way, awaiting–to all appearances–his turn to feel the thong.

“I thought there wasn’t much use in asking the head of that house if she wanted any ‘notions.’ She was too busy. It was evident an insurrection had been in progress, but it was pretty well quelled when I got there. The mother had about suppressed it with an iron hand, but she was not running any risks. She kept a keen and wary eye upon all the children, not forgetting an occasional glance at the ‘old man’ in the doorway.

“She saw me as I came up, and from her look I thought she was of the opinion that I intended to interfere. Advancing to the doorway, and roughly pushing her husband aside, she demanded my business.

“‘Nothing, madame,’ I answered as gently as possible; ‘I merely dropped in as I came along to see how things were going.’

“‘Well, you needn’t wait,’ was the reply in an irritated way; ‘there’s trouble here, an’ lots of it, too, but I kin manage my own affairs without the help of outsiders. This is jest a family row, but I’ll teach these brats their places ef I hev to lick the hide off ev’ry one of them. I don’t do much talkin’, but I run this house, an’ I don’t want no one sneakin’ round tryin’ to find out how I do it, either.’

“That’s the case here with us,” the President said in conclusion. “We must let the other nations know that we propose to settle our family row in our own way, and ‘teach these brats their places’ (the seceding States) if we have to ‘lick the hide off’ of each and every one of them. And, like the old woman, we don’t want any ‘sneakin’ ’round’ by other countries who would like to find out how we are to do it, either.

“Now, Seward, you write some diplomatic notes to that effect.”

And the Cabinet session closed.


As the President considered it his duty to keep in touch with all the improvements in the armament of the vessels belonging to the United States Navy, he was necessarily interested in the various types of these floating fortresses. Not only was it required of the Navy Department to furnish seagoing warships, deep-draught vessels for the great rivers and the lakes, but this Department also found use for little gunboats which could creep along in the shallowest of water and attack the Confederates in by-places and swamps.

The consequence of the interest taken by Mr. Lincoln in the Navy was that he was besieged, day and night, by steamboat contractors, each one eager to sell his product to the Washington Government. All sorts of experiments were tried, some being dire failures, while others were more than fairly successful. More than once had these tiny war vessels proved themselves of great service, and the United States Government had a large number of them built.

There was one particular contractor who bothered the President more than all the others put together. He was constantly impressing upon Mr. Lincoln the great superiority of his boats, because they would run in such shallow water.

“Oh, yes,” replied the President, “I’ve no doubt they’ll run anywhere where the ground is a little moist!”


“It seems to me,” remarked the President one day while reading, over some of the appealing telegrams sent to the War Department by General McClellan, “that McClellan has been wandering around and has sort of got lost. He’s been hollering for help ever since he went South–wants somebody to come to his deliverance and get him out of the place he’s got into.

“He reminds me of the story of a man out in Illinois who, in company with a number of friends, visited the State penitentiary. They wandered all through the institution and saw everything, but just about the time to depart this particular man became separated from his friends and couldn’t find his way out.

“He roamed up and down one corridor after another, becoming more desperate all the time, when, at last, he came across a convict who was looking out from between the bars of his cell-door. Here was salvation at last. Hurrying up to the prisoner he hastily asked

“‘Say! How do you get out of this place?”


President Lincoln often avoided interviews with delegations representing various States, especially when he knew the objects of their errands, and was aware he could not grant their requests. This was the case with several commissioners from Kentucky, who were put off from day to day.

They were about to give up in despair, and were leaving the White House lobby, their speech being interspersed with vehement and uncomplimentary terms concerning “Old Abe,” when “Tad” happened along. He caught at these words, and asked one of them if they wanted to see “Old Abe,” laughing at the same time.

“Yes,” he replied.

“Wait a minute,” said “Tad,” and rushed into his father’s office. Said he, “Papa, may I introduce some friends to you?”

His father, always indulgent and ready to make him happy, kindly said, “Yes, my son, I will see your friends.”

“Tad” went to the Kentuckians again, and asked a very dignified looking gentleman of the party his name. He was told his name. He then said, “Come, gentlemen,” and they followed him.

Leading them up to the President, “Tad,” with much dignity, said, “Papa, let me introduce to you Judge –, of Kentucky;” and quickly added, “Now Judge, you introduce the other gentlemen.”

The introductions were gone through with, and they turned out to be the gentlemen Mr. Lincoln had been avoiding for a week. Mr. Lincoln reached for the boy, took him in his lap, kissed him, and told him it was all right, and that he had introduced his friend like a little gentleman as he was. Tad was eleven years old at this time.

The President was pleased with Tad’s diplomacy, and often laughed at the incident as he told others of it. One day while caressing the boy, he asked him why he called those gentlemen “his friends.” “Well,” said Tad, “I had seen them so often, and they looked so good and sorry, and said they were from Kentucky, that I thought they must be our friends.” “That is right, my son,” said Mr. Lincoln; “I would have the whole human race your friends and mine, if it were possible.”


The President told a story which most beautifully illustrated the muddled situation of affairs at the time McClellan’s fate was hanging in the balance. McClellan’s s work was not satisfactory, but the President hesitated to remove him; the general was so slow that the Confederates marched all around him; and, to add to the dilemma, the President could not find a suitable man to take McClellan’s place.

The latter was a political, as well as a military, factor; his friends threatened that, if he was removed, many war Democrats would cast their influence with the South, etc. It was, altogether, a sad mix-up, and the President, for a time, was at his wits’ end. He was assailed on all sides with advice, but none of it was worth acting upon.

“This situation reminds me,” said the President at a Cabinet meeting one day not long before the appointment of General Halleck as McClellan’s successor in command of the Union forces, “of a Union man in Kentucky whose two sons enlisted in the Federal Army. His wife was of Confederate sympathies. His nearest neighbor was a Confederate in feeling, and his two sons were fighting under Lee. This neighbor’s wife was a Union woman and it nearly broke her heart to know that her sons were arrayed against the Union.

“Finally, the two men, after each had talked the matter over with his wife, agreed to obtain divorces; this they, did, and the Union man and Union woman were wedded, as were the Confederate man and the Confederate woman–the men swapped wives, in short. But this didn’t seem to help matters any, for the sons of the Union woman were still fighting for the South, and the sons of the Confederate woman continued in the Federal Army; the Union husband couldn’t get along with his Union wife, and the Confederate husband and his Confederate wife couldn’t agree upon anything, being forever fussing and quarreling.

“It’s the same thing with the Army. It doesn’t seem worth while to secure divorces and then marry the Army and McClellan to others, for they won’t get along any better than they do now, and there’ll only be a new set of heartaches started. I think we’d better wait; perhaps a real fighting general will come along some of these days, and then we’ll all be happy. If you go to mixing in a mixup, you only make the muddle worse.”


George M. Pullman, the great sleeping-car builder, once told a joke in which Lincoln was the prominent figure. In fact, there wouldn’t have been any joke had it not been for “Long Abe.” At the time of the occurrence, which was the foundation for the joke–and Pullman admitted that the latter was on him–Pullman was the conductor of his only sleeping-car. The latter was an experiment, and Pullman was doing everything possible to get the railroads to take hold of it.

“One night,” said Pullman in telling the story, “as we were about going out of Chicago–this was long before Lincoln was what you might call a renowned man–a long, lean, ugly man, with a wart on his cheek, came into the depot. He paid me fifty cents, and half a berth was assigned him. Then he took off his coat and vest and hung them up, and they fitted the peg about as well as they fitted him. Then he kicked off his boots, which were of surprising length, turned into the berth, and, undoubtedly having an easy conscience, was sleeping like a healthy baby before the car left the depot.

“Pretty soon along came another passenger and paid his fifty cents. In two minutes he was back at me, angry as a wet hen.

“‘There’s a man in that berth of mine,’ said he, hotly, ‘and he’s about ten feet high. How am I going to sleep there, I’d like to know? Go and look at him.’

“In I went–mad, too. The tall, lank man’s knees were under his chin, his arms were stretched across the bed and his feet were stored comfortably–for him. I shook him until he awoke, and then told him if he wanted the whole berth he would have to pay $1.

“‘My dear sir,’ said the tall man, ‘a contract is a contract. I have paid you fifty cents for half this berth, and, as you see, I’m occupying it. There’s the other half,’ pointing to a strip about six inches wide. ‘Sell that and don’t disturb me again.’

“And so saying, the man with a wart on his face went to sleep again. He was Abraham Lincoln, and he never grew any shorter afterward. We became great friends, and often laughed over the incident.”


When the enemies of General Grant were bothering the President with emphatic and repeated demands that the “Silent Man” be removed from command, Mr. Lincoln remained firm. He would not consent to lose the services of so valuable a soldier. “Grant fights,” said he in response to the charges made that Grant was a butcher, a drunkard, an incompetent and a general who did not know his business.

“That reminds me of a story,” President Lincoln said one day to a delegation of the “Grant-is-no-good” style.

“Out in my State of Illinois there was a man nominated for sheriff of the county. He was a good man for the office, brave, determined and honest, but not much of an orator. In fact, he couldn’t talk at all; he couldn’t make a speech to save his life.

“His friends knew he was a man who would preserve the peace of the county and perform the duties devolving upon him all right, but the people of the county didn’t know it. They wanted him to come out boldly on the platform at political meetings and state his convictions and principles; they had been used to speeches from candidates, and were somewhat suspicious of a man who was afraid to open his mouth.

“At last the candidate consented to make a speech, and his friends were delighted. The candidate was on hand, and, when he was called upon, advanced to the front and faced the crowd. There was a glitter in his eye that wasn’t pleasing, and the way he walked out to the front of the stand showed that he knew just what he wanted to say.

“‘Feller Citizens,’ was his beginning, the words spoken quietly, ‘I’m not a speakin’ man; I ain’t no orator, an’ I never stood up before a lot of people in my life before; I’m not goin’ to make no speech, ‘xcept to say that I can lick any man in the crowd!'”


Charles E. Anthony’s one meeting with Mr. Lincoln presents an interesting contrast to those of the men who shared the emancipator’s interest in public affairs. It was in the latter part of the winter of 1861, a short time before Mr. Lincoln left for his inauguration at Washington. Judge Anthony went to the Sherman House, where the President-elect was stopping, and took with him his son, Charles, then but a little boy. Charles played about the room as a child will, looking at whatever interested him for the time, and when the interview with his father was over he was ready to go.

But Mr. Lincoln, ever interested in little children, called the lad to him and took him upon his great knee.

“My impression of him all the time I had been playing about the room,” said Mr. Anthony, “was that he was a terribly homely man. I was rather repelled. But no sooner did he speak to me than the expression of his face changed completely, or, rather, my view of it changed. It at once became kindly and attractive. He asked me some questions, seeming instantly to find in the turmoil of all the great questions that must have been heavy upon him, the very ones that would go to the thought of a child. I answered him without hesitation, and after a moment he patted my shoulder and said:

“‘Well, you’ll be a man before your mother yet,’ and put me down.

“I had never before heard the homely old expression, and it puzzled me for a time. After a moment I understood it, but he looked at me while I was puzzling over it, and seemed to be amused, as no doubt he was.”

The incident simply illustrates the ease and readiness with which Lincoln could turn from the mighty questions before the nation, give a moment’s interested attention to a child, and return at once to matters of state.


Donn Piatt, one of the brightest newspaper writers in the country, told a good story on the President in regard to the refusal of the latter to sanction the death penalty in cases of desertion from the Union Army.

“There was far more policy in this course,” said Piatt, “than kind feeling. To assert the contrary is to detract from Lincoln’s force of character, as well as intellect. Our War President was not lost in his high admiration of brigadiers and major-generals, and had a positive dislike for their methods and the despotism upon which an army is based. He knew that he was dependent upon volunteers for soldiers, and to force upon such men as those the stern discipline of the Regular Army was to render the service unpopular. And it pleased him to be the source of mercy, as well as the fountain of honor, in this direction.

“I was sitting with General Dan Tyler, of Connecticut, in the antechamber of the War Department, shortly after the adjournment of the Buell Court of Inquiry, of which we had been members, when President Lincoln came in from the room of Secretary Stanton. Seeing us, he said: ‘Well, gentlemen, have you any matter worth reporting?’

“‘I think so, Mr. President,’ replied General Tyler. ‘We had it proven that Bragg, with less than ten thousand men, drove your eighty-three thousand men under Buell back from before Chattanooga, down to the Ohio at Louisville, marched around us twice, then doubled us up at Perryville, and finally got out of the State of Kentucky with all his plunder.’

“‘Now, Tyler,’ returned the President, ‘what is the meaning of all this; what is the lesson? Don’t our men march as well, and fight as well, as these rebels? If not, there is a fault somewhere. We are all of the same family–same sort.’

“‘Yes, there is a lesson,’ replied General Tyler; ‘we are of the same sort, but subject to different handling. Bragg’s little force was superior to our larger number because he had it under control. If a man left his ranks, he was punished; if he deserted, he was shot. We had nothing of that sort. If we attempt to shoot a deserter you pardon him, and our army is without discipline.’

“The President looked perplexed. ‘Why do you interfere?’ continued General Tyler. ‘Congress has taken from you all responsibility.’

“‘Yes,’ answered the President impatiently, ‘Congress has taken the responsibility and left the women to howl all about me,’ and so he strode away.”


One of the droll stories brought into play by the President as an ally in support of his contention, proved most effective. Politics was rife among the generals of the Union Army, and there was more “wire-pulling” to prevent the advancement of fellow commanders than the laying of plans to defeat the Confederates in battle.

However, when it so happened that the name of a particularly unpopular general was sent to the Senate for confirmation, the protest against his promotion was almost unanimous. The nomination didn’t seem to please anyone. Generals who were enemies before conferred together for the purpose of bringing every possible influence to bear upon the Senate and securing the rejection of the hated leader’s name. The President was surprised. He had never known such unanimity before.

“You remind me,” said the President to a delegation of officers which called upon him one day to present a fresh protest to him regarding the nomination, “of a visit a certain Governor paid to the Penitentiary of his State. It had been announced that the Governor would hear the story of every inmate of the institution, and was prepared to rectify, either by commutation or pardon, any wrongs that had been done to any prisoner.

“One by one the convicts appeared before His Excellency, and each one maintained that he was an innocent man, who had been sent to prison because the police didn’t like him, or his friends and relatives wanted his property, or he was too popular, etc., etc. The last prisoner to appear was an individual who was not all prepossessing. His face was against him; his eyes were shifty; he didn’t have the appearance of an honest man, and he didn’t act like one.

“‘Well,’ asked the Governor, impatiently, ‘I suppose you’re innocent like the rest of these fellows?’

“‘No, Governor,’ was the unexpected answer; ‘I was guilty of the crime they charged against me, and I got just what I deserved.’

“When he had recovered from his astonishment, the Governor, looking the fellow squarely in the face, remarked with emphasis: ‘I’ll have to pardon you, because I don’t want to leave so bad a man as you are in the company of such innocent sufferers as I have discovered your fellow-convicts to be. You might corrupt them and teach them wicked tricks. As soon as I get back to the capital, I’ll have the papers made out.’

“You gentlemen,” continued the President, “ought to be glad that so bad a man, as you represent this officer to be, is to get his promotion, for then you won’t be forced to associate with him and suffer the contamination of his presence and influence. I will do all I can to have the Senate confirm him.”

And he was confirmed.


The President was often in opposition to the general public sentiment of the North upon certain questions of policy, but he bided his time, and things usually came out as he wanted them. It was Lincoln’s opinion, from the first, that apology and reparation to England must be made by the United States because of the arrest, upon the high seas, of the Confederate Commissioners, Mason and Slidell. The country, however (the Northern States), was wild for a conflict with England.

“One war at a time,” quietly remarked the President at a Cabinet meeting, where he found the majority of his advisers unfavorably disposed to “backing down.” But one member of the Cabinet was a really strong supporter of the President in his attitude.

“I am reminded,” the President said after the various arguments had been put forward by the members of the Cabinet, “of a fellow out in my State of Illinois who happened to stray into a church while a revival meeting was in progress. To be truthful, this individual was not entirely sober, and with that instinct which seems to impel all men in his condition to assume a prominent part in proceedings, he walked up the aisle to the very front pew.

“All noticed him, but he did not care; for awhile he joined audibly in the singing, said ‘Amen’ at the close of the prayers, but, drowsiness overcoming him, he went to sleep. Before the meeting closed, the pastor asked the usual question–‘Who are on the Lord’s side?’–and the congregation arose en masse. When he asked, ‘Who are on the side of the Devil?’ the sleeper was about waking up. He heard a portion of the interrogatory, and, seeing the minister on his feet, arose.

“‘I don’t exactly understand the question,’ he said, ‘but I’ll stand by you, parson, to the last. But it seems to me,’ he added, ‘that we’re in a hopeless minority.’

“I’m in a hopeless minority now,” said the President, “and I’ll have to admit it.”


John Morrissey, the noted prize fighter, was the “Boss” of Tammany Hall during the Civil War period. It pleased his fancy to go to Congress, and his obedient constituents sent him there. Morrissey was such an absolute despot that the New York City democracy could not make a move without his consent, and many of the Tammanyites were so afraid of him that they would not even enter into business ventures without consulting the autocrat.

President Lincoln had been seriously annoyed by some of his generals, who were afraid to make the slightest move before asking advice from Washington. One commander, in particular, was so cautious that he telegraphed the War Department upon the slightest pretext, the result being that his troops were lying in camp doing nothing, when they should have been in the field.

“This general reminds me,” the President said one day while talking to Secretary Stanton, at the War Department, “of a story I once heard about a Tammany man. He happened to meet a friend, also a member of Tammany, on the street, and in the course of the talk the friend, who was beaming with smiles and good nature, told the other Tammanyite that he was going to be married.

“This first Tammany man looked more serious than men usually do upon hearing of the impending happiness of a friend. In fact, his face seemed to take on a look of anxiety and worry.

“‘Ain’t you glad to know that I’m to get married?’ demanded the second Tammanyite, somewhat in a huff.

“‘Of course I am,’ was the reply; ‘but,’ putting his mouth close to the ear of the other, ‘have ye asked Morrissey yet?’

“Now, this general of whom we are speaking, wouldn’t dare order out the guard without asking Morrissey,” concluded the President.


At one time, when Lincoln and Douglas were “stumping” Illinois, they met at a certain town, and it was agreed that they would have a joint debate. Douglas was the first speaker, and in the course of his talk remarked that in early life, his father, who, he said, was an excellent cooper by trade, apprenticed him out to learn the cabinet business.

This was too good for Lincoln to let pass, so when his turn came to reply, he said:

“I had understood before that Mr. Douglas had been bound out to learn the cabinet-making business, which is all well enough, but I was not aware until now that his father was a cooper. I have no doubt, however, that he was one, and I am certain, also, that he was a very good one, for (here Lincoln gently bowed toward Douglas) he has made one of the best whiskey casks I have ever seen.”

As Douglas was a short heavy-set man, and occasionally imbibed, the pith of the joke was at once apparent, and most heartily enjoyed by all.

On another occasion, Douglas made a point against Lincoln by telling the crowd that when he first knew Lincoln he was a “grocery-keeper,” and sold whiskey, cigars, etc.

“Mr. L.,” he said, “was a very good bar-tender!” This brought the laugh on Lincoln, whose reply, however, soon came, and then the laugh was on the other side.

“What Mr. Douglas has said, gentlemen,” replied Lincoln, “is true enough; I did keep a grocery and I did sell cotton, candles and cigars, and sometimes whiskey; but I remember in those days that Mr. Douglas was one of my best customers.”

“I can also say this; that I have since left my side of the counter, while Mr. Douglas still sticks to his!”

This brought such a storm of cheers and laughter that Douglas was unable to reply.


Mrs. Lincoln knew her husband was not “pretty,” but she liked to have him presentable when he appeared before the public. Stephen Fiske, in “When Lincoln Was First Inaugurated,” tells of Mrs. Lincoln’s anxiety to have the President-elect “smoothed down” a little when receiving a delegation that was to greet them upon reaching New York City.

“The train stopped,” writes Mr. Fiske, “and through the windows immense crowds could be seen; the cheering drowning the blowing off of steam of the locomotive. Then Mrs. Lincoln opened her handbag and said:

“‘Abraham, I must fix you up a bit for these city folks.’

“Mr. Lincoln gently lifted her upon the seat before him; she parted, combed and brushed his hair and arranged his black necktie.

“‘Do I look nice now, mother?’ he affectionately asked.

“‘Well, you’ll do, Abraham,’ replied Mrs. Lincoln critically. So he kissed her and lifted her down from the seat, and turned to meet Mayor Wood, courtly and suave, and to have his hand shaken by the other New York officials.”


The Rev. Mr. Shrigley, of Philadelphia, a Universalist, had been nominated for hospital chaplain, and a protesting delegation went to Washington to see President Lincoln on the subject.

“We have called, Mr. President, to confer with you in regard to the appointment of Mr. Shrigley, of Philadelphia, as hospital chaplain.”

The President responded: “Oh, yes, gentlemen. I have sent his name to the Senate, and he will no doubt be confirmed at an early date.” One of the young men replied: “We have not come to ask for the appointment, but to solicit you to withdraw the nomination.”

“Ah!” said Lincoln, “that alters the case; but on what grounds do you wish the nomination withdrawn?”

The answer was: “Mr. Shrigley is not sound in his theological opinions.”

The President inquired: “On what question is the gentleman unsound?”

Response: “He does not believe in endless punishment; not only so, sir, but he believes that even the rebels themselves will be finally saved.”

“Is that so?” inquired the President.

The members of the committee responded, “Yes, yes.’

“Well, gentlemen, if that be so, and there is any way under Heaven whereby the rebels can be saved, then, for God’s sake and their sakes, let the man be appointed.”

The Rev. Mr. Shrigley was appointed, and served until the close of the war.


John M. Palmer, Major-General in the Volunteer Army, Governor of the State of Illinois, and United States Senator from the Sucker State, became acquainted with Lincoln in 1839, and the last time he saw the President was at the White House in February, 1865. Senator Palmer told the story of his interview as follows:

“I had come to Washington at the request of the Governor, to complain that Illinois had been credited with 18,000 too few troops. I saw Mr. Lincoln one afternoon, and he asked me to come again in the morning.

“Next morning I sat in the ante-room while several officers were relieved. At length I was told to enter the President’s room. Mr. Lincoln was in the hands of the barber.

“‘Come in, Palmer,’ he called out, ‘come in. You’re home folks. I can shave before you. I couldn’t before those others, and I have to do it some time.’

“We chatted about various matters, and at length I said:

“‘Well, Mr. Lincoln, if anybody had told me that in a great crisis like this the people were going out to a little one-horse town and pick out a one-horse lawyer for President I wouldn’t have believed it.’

“Mr. Lincoln whirled about in his chair, his face white with lather, a towel under his chin. At first I thought he was angry. Sweeping the barber away he leaned forward, and, placing one hand on my knee, said:

“‘Neither would I. But it was time when a man with a policy would have been fatal to the country. I have never had a policy. I have simply tried to do what seemed best each day, as each day came.'”


England was anything but pleased when the Czar Alexander, of Russia, showed his friendship for the United States by sending a strong fleet to this country with the accompanying suggestion that Uncle Sam, through his representative, President Lincoln, could do whatever he saw fit with the ironclads and the munitions of war they had stowed away in their holds.

London “Punch,” on November 7th, 1863, printed the cartoon shown on this page, the text under the picture reading in this way: “Holding a candle to the * * * * *.” (Much the same thing.)

Of course, this was a covert sneer, intended to convey the impression that President Lincoln, in order to secure the support and friendship of the Emperor of Russia as long as the War of the Rebellion lasted, was willing to do all sorts of menial offices, even to the extent of holding the candle and lighting His Most Gracious Majesty, the White Czar, to his imperial bed-chamber.

It is a somewhat remarkable fact that the Emperor Alexander, who tendered inestimable aid to the President of the United States, was the Lincoln of Russia, having given freedom to millions of serfs in his empire; and, further than that, he was, like Lincoln,
the victim of assassination. He was literally blown to pieces by a bomb thrown under his carriage while riding through the streets near the Winter Palace at St. Petersburg.


“I was told a mighty good story,” said the President one day at a Cabinet meeting, “by Colonel Granville Moody, ‘the fighting Methodist parson,’ as they used to call him in Tennessee. I happened to meet Moody in Philadelphia, where he was attending a conference.

“The story was about ‘Andy’ Johnson and General Buell. Colonel Moody happened to be in Nashville the day it was reported that Buell had decided to evacuate the city. The rebels, strongly re-inforced, were said to be within two days’ march of the capital. Of course, the city was greatly excited. Moody said he went in search of Johnson at the edge of the evening and found him at his office closeted with two gentlemen, who were walking the floor with him, one on each side. As he entered they retired, leaving him alone with Johnson, who came up to him, manifesting intense feeling, and said:

“‘Moody, we are sold out. Buell is a traitor. He is going to evacuate the city, and in forty-eight hours we will all be in the hands of the rebels!’

“Then he commenced pacing the floor again, twisting his hands and chafing like a caged tiger, utterly insensible to his friend’s entreaties to become calm. Suddenly he turned and said:

“‘Moody, can you pray?’

“‘That is my business, sir, as a minister of the gospel,’ returned the colonel.

“‘Well, Moody, I wish you would pray,’ said Johnson, and instantly both went down upon their knees at opposite sides of the room.

“As the prayer waxed fervent, Johnson began to respond in true Methodist style. Presently he crawled over on his hands and knees to Moody’s side and put his arms over him, manifesting the deepest emotion.

“Closing the prayer with a hearty ‘amen’ from each, they arose.

“Johnson took a long breath, and said, with emphasis:

“‘Moody, I feel better.’

“Shortly afterward he asked:

“‘Will you stand by me?’

“‘Certainly I will,’ was the answer.

“‘Well, Moody, I can depend upon you; you are one in a hundred thousand.’

“He then commenced pacing the floor again. Suddenly he wheeled, the current of his thought having changed, and said:

“‘Oh, Moody, I don’t want you to think I have become a religious man because I asked you to pray. I am sorry to say it, I am not, and never pretended to be religious. No one knows this better than you, but, Moody, there is one thing about it, I do believe in Almighty God, and I believe also in the Bible, and I say, d–n me if Nashville shall be surrendered!’

“And Nashville was not surrendered!”


General Fisk, attending a reception at the White House, saw waiting in the ante-room a poor old man from Tennessee, and learned that he had been waiting three or four days to get an audience, on which probably depended the life of his son, under sentence of death for some military offense.

General Fisk wrote his case in outline on a card and sent it in, with a a special request that the President would see the man. In a moment the order came; and past impatient senators, governors and generals, the old man went.

He showed his papers to Mr. Lincoln, who said he would look into the case and give him the result next day.

The old man, in an agony of apprehension, looked up into the President’s sympathetic face and actually cried out:

“To-morrow may be too late! My son is under sentence of death! It ought to be decided now!”

His streaming tears told how much he was moved.

“Come,” said Mr. Lincoln, “wait a bit and I’ll tell you a story;” and then he told the old man General Fisk’s story about the swearing driver, as follows:

“The general had begun his military life as a colonel, and when he raised his regiment in Missouri he proposed to his men that he should do all the swearing of the regiment. They assented; and for months no instance was known of the violation of the promise.

“The colonel had a teamster named John Todd, who, as roads were not always the best, had some difficulty in commanding his temper and his tongue.

“John happened to be driving a mule team through a series of mudholes a little worse than usual, when, unable to restrain himself any longer, he burst forth into a volley of energetic oaths.

“The colonel took notice of the offense and brought John to account.

“‘John,’ said he, ‘didn’t you promise to let me do all the swearing of the regiment?’

“‘Yes, I did, colonel,’ he replied, ‘but the fact was, the swearing had to be done then or not at all, and you weren’t there to do it.'”

As he told the story the old man forgot his boy, and both the President and his listener had a hearty laugh together at its conclusion.

Then he wrote a few words which the old man read, and in which he found new occasion for tears; but the tears were tears of joy, for the words saved the life of his son.


The President was heard to declare one day that the story given below was one of the funniest he ever heard.

One of General Fremont’s batteries of eight Parrott guns, supported by a squadron of horse commanded by Major Richards, was in sharp conflict with a battery of the enemy near at hand. Shells and shot were flying thick and fast, when the commander of the battery, a German, one of Fremont’s staff, rode suddenly up to the cavalry, exclaiming, in loud and excited terms, “Pring up de shackasses! Pring up de shackasses! For Cot’s sake, hurry up de shackasses, im-me-di-ate-ly!”

The necessity of this order, though not quite apparent, will be more obvious when it is remembered that “shackasses” are mules, carry mountain howitzers, which are fired from the backs of that much-abused but valuable animal; and the immediate occasion for the “shackasses” was that two regiments of rebel infantry were at that moment discovered ascending a hill immediately behind our batteries.

The “shackasses,” with the howitzers loaded with grape and canister, were soon on the ground.

The mules squared themselves, as they well knew how, for the shock.

A terrific volley was poured into the advancing column, which immediately broke and retreated.

Two hundred and seventy-eight dead bodies were found in the ravine next day, piled closely together as they fell, the effects of that volley from the backs of the “shackasses.”


Mr. Lincoln enjoyed a joke at his own expense. Said he: “In the days when I used to be in the circuit, I was accosted in the cars by a stranger, who said, ‘Excuse me, sir, but I have an article in my possession which belongs to you.’ ‘How is that?’ I asked, considerably astonished.

“The stranger took a jackknife from his pocket. ‘This knife,’ said he, ‘was placed in my hands some years ago, with the injunction that I was to keep it until I had found a man uglier than myself. I have carried it from that time to this. Allow me to say, sir, that I think you are fairly entitled to the property.'”


It so happened that an official of the War Department had escaped serious punishment for a rather flagrant offense, by showing where grosser irregularities existed in the management of a certain bureau of the Department. So valuable was the information furnished that the culprit who “gave the snap away” was not even discharged.

“That reminds me,” the President said, when the case was laid before him, “of a story about Daniel Webster, when the latter was a boy.

“When quite young, at school, Daniel was one day guilty of a gross violation of the rules. He was detected in the act, and called up by the teacher for punishment.

“This was to be the old-fashioned ‘feruling’ of the hand. His hands happened to be very dirty.

“Knowing this, on the way to the teacher’s desk, he spit upon the palm of his right hand, wiping it off upon the side of his pantaloons.

“‘Give me your hand, sir,’ said the teacher, very sternly.

“Out went the right hand, partly cleansed. The teacher looked at it a moment, and said:

“‘Daniel, if you will find another hand in this school-room as filthy as that, I will let you off this time!’

“Instantly from behind the back came the left hand.

“‘Here it is, sir,’ was the ready reply.

“‘That will do,’ said the teacher, ‘for this time; you can take your seat, sir.'”


The President did not consider that every soldier who ran away in battle, or did not stand firmly to receive a bayonet charge, was a coward. He was of opinion that self-preservation was the first law of Nature, but he didn’t want this statute construed too liberally by the troops.

At the same time he took occasion to illustrate a point he wished to make by a story in connection with a darky who was a member of the Ninth Illinois Infantry Regiment. This regiment was one of those engaged at the capture of Fort Donelson. It behaved gallantly, and lost as heavily as any.

“Upon the hurricane-deck of one of our gunboats,” said the President in telling the story, “I saw an elderly darky, with a very philosophical and retrospective cast of countenance, squatted upon his bundle, toasting his shins against the chimney, and apparently plunged into a state of profound meditation.

“As the negro rather interested me, I made some inquiries, and found that he had really been with the Ninth Illinois Infantry at Donelson. and began to ask him some questions about the capture of the place.

“‘Were you in the fight?’

“‘Had a little taste of it, sa.’

“‘Stood your ground, did you?’

“‘No, sa, I runs.’

“‘Run at the first fire, did you?

“‘Yes, sa, and would hab run soona, had I knowd it war comin’.”

“‘Why, that wasn’t very creditable to your courage.’

“‘Dat isn’t my line, sa–cookin’s my profeshun.’

“‘Well, but have you no regard for your reputation?’

“‘Reputation’s nuffin to me by de side ob life.’

“‘Do you consider your life worth more than other people’s?’

“‘It’s worth more to me, sa.’

“‘Then you must value it very highly?’

“‘Yes, sa, I does, more dan all dis wuld, more dan a million ob dollars, sa, for what would dat be wuth to a man wid de bref out ob him? Self-preserbation am de fust law wid me.’

“‘But why should you act upon a different rule from other men?’

“‘Different men set different values on their lives; mine is not in de market.’

“‘But if you lost it you would have the satisfaction of knowing that you died for your country.’

“‘Dat no satisfaction when feelin’s gone.’

“‘Then patriotism and honor are nothing to you?’

“‘Nufin whatever, sat–I regard them as among the vanities.’

“‘If our soldiers were like you, traitors might have broken up the government without resistance.’

“‘Yes, sa, dar would hab been no help for it. I wouldn’t put my life in de scale ‘g’inst any gobernment dat eber existed, for no gobernment could replace de loss to me.’

“‘Do you think any of your company would have missed you if you had been killed?’

“‘Maybe not, sa–a dead white man ain’t much to dese sogers, let alone a dead nigga–but I’d a missed myse’f, and dat was de p’int wid me.’

“I only tell this story,” concluded the President, “in order to illustrate the result of the tactics of some of the Union generals who would be sadly ‘missed’ by themselves, if no one else, if they ever got out of the Army.”


President Lincoln and some members of his Cabinet were with a part of the Army some distance south of the National Capital at one time, when Secretary of War Stanton remarked that just before he left Washington he had received a telegram from General Mitchell, in Alabama. General Mitchell asked instructions in regard to a certain emergency that had arisen.

The Secretary said he did not precisely understand the emergency as explained by General Mitchell, but had answered back, “All right; go ahead.”

“Now,” he said, as he turned to Mr. Lincoln, “Mr. President, if I have made an error in not understanding him correctly, I will have to get you to countermand the order.”

“Well,” exclaimed President Lincoln, “that is very much like the happening on the occasion of a certain horse sale I remember that took place at the cross-roads down in Kentucky, when I was a boy.

“A particularly fine horse was to be sold, and the people in large numbers had gathered together. They had a small boy to ride the horse up and down while the spectators examined the horse’s points.

“At last one man whispered to the boy as he went by: ‘Look here, boy, hain’t that horse got the splints?’

“The boy replied: ‘Mister, I don’t know what the splints is, but if it’s good for him, he has got it; if it ain’t good for him, he ain’t got it.’

“Now,” said President Lincoln, “if this was good for Mitchell, it was all right; but if it was not, I have got to countermand it.”


There were strange, queer, odd things and happenings in the Army at times, but, as a rule, the President did not allow them to worry him. He had enough to bother about.

A quartermaster having neglected to present his accounts in proper shape, and the matter being deemed of sufficient importance to bring it to the attention of the President, the latter remarked:

“Now this instance reminds me of a little story I heard only a short time ago. A certain general’s purse was getting low, and he said it was probable he might be obliged to draw on his banker for some money.

“‘How much do you want, father?’ asked his son, who had been with him a few days.

“‘I think I shall send for a couple of hundred,’ replied the general.

“Why, father,’ said his son, very quietly, ‘I can let you have it.’

“‘You can let me have it! Where did you get so much money?

“‘I won it playing draw-poker with your staff, sir!’ replied the youth.

“The earliest morning train bore the young man toward his home, and I’ve been wondering if that boy and that quartermaster had happened to meet at the same table.”


Governor Hoyt of Wisconsin tells a story of Mr. Lincoln’s great admiration for physical strength. Mr. Lincoln, in 1859, made a speech at the Wisconsin State Agricultural Fair. After the speech, in company with the Governor, he strolled about the grounds, looking at the exhibits. They came to a place where a professional “strong man” was tossing cannon balls in the air and catching them on his arms and juggling with them as though they were light as baseballs. Mr. Lincoln had never before seen such an exhibition, and he was greatly surprised and interested.

When the performance was over, Governor Hoyt, seeing Mr. Lincoln’s interest, asked him to go up and be introduced to the athlete. He did so, and, as he stood looking down musingly on the man, who was very short, and evidently wondering that one so much smaller than he could be so much stronger, he suddenly broke out with one of his quaint speeches. “Why,” he said, “why, I could lick salt off the top of your hat.”


A prominent volunteer officer who, early in the War, was on duty in Washington and often carried reports to Secretary Stanton at the War Department, told a characteristic story on President Lincoln. Said he:

“I was with several other young officers, also carrying reports to the War Department, and one morning we were late. In this instance we were in a desperate hurry to deliver the papers, in order to be able to catch the train returning to camp.

“On the winding, dark staircase of the old War Department, which many will remember, it was our misfortune, while taking about three stairs at a time, to run a certain head like a catapult into the body of the President, striking him in the region of the right lower vest pocket.

“The usual surprised and relaxed grunt of a man thus assailed came promptly.

“We quickly sent an apology in the direction of the dimly seen form, feeling that the ungracious shock was expensive, even to the humblest clerk in the department.

“A second glance revealed to us the President as the victim of the collision. Then followed a special tender of ‘ten thousand pardons,’ and the President’s reply:

“‘One’s enough; I wish the whole army would charge like that.'”


“You can’t do anything with them Southern fellows,” the old man at the table was saying.

“If they get whipped, they’ll retreat to them Southern swamps and bayous along with the fishes and crocodiles. You haven’t got the fish-nets made that’ll catch ’em.”

“Look here, old gentleman,” remarked President Lincoln, who was sitting alongside, “we’ve got just the nets for traitors, in the bayous or anywhere.”

“Hey? What nets?”

“Bayou-nets!” and “Uncle Abraham” pointed his joke with his fork, spearing a fishball savagely.


Mr. Lincoln’s skill in parrying troublesome questions was wonderful. Once he received a call from Congressman John Ganson, of Buffalo, one of the ablest lawyers in New York, who, although a Democrat, supported all of Mr. Lincoln’s war measures. Mr. Ganson wanted explanations. Mr. Ganson was very bald with a perfectly smooth face. He had a most direct and aggressive way of stating his views or of demanding what he thought he was entitled to. He said: “Mr. Lincoln, I have supported all of your measures and think I am entitled to your confidence. We are voting and acting in the dark in Congress, and I demand to know–think I have the right to ask and to know–what is the present situation, and what are the prospects and conditions of the several campaigns and armies.”

Mr. Lincoln looked at him critically for a moment and then said: “Ganson, how clean you shave!”

Most men would have been offended, but Ganson was too broad and intelligent a man not to see the point and retire at once, satisfied, from the field.


Chauncey M. Depew says that Mr. Lincoln told him the following story, which he claimed was one of the best two things he ever originated: He was trying a case in Illinois where he appeared for a prisoner charged with aggravated assault and battery. The complainant had told a horrible story of the attack, which his appearance fully justified, when the District Attorney handed the witness over to Mr. Lincoln, for cross-examination. Mr. Lincoln said he had no testimony, and unless he could break down the complainant’s story he saw no way out. He had come to the conclusion that the witness was a bumptious man, who rather prided himself upon his smartness in repartee and, so, after looking at him for some minutes, he said:

“Well, my friend, how much ground did you and my client here fight over?”

The fellow answered: “About six acres.”

“Well,” said Mr. Lincoln, “don’t you think that this is an almighty small crop of fight to gather from such a big piece of ground?”

The jury laughed. The Court and District-Attorney and complainant all joined in, and the case was laughed out of court.


A simple remark one of the party might make would remind Mr. Lincoln of an apropos story.

Secretary of the Treasury Chase happened to remark, “Oh, I am so sorry that I did not write a letter to Mr. So-and-so before I left home!”

President Lincoln promptly responded:

“Chase, never regret what you don’t write; it is what you do write that you are often called upon to feel sorry for.”


In an interview between President Lincoln and Petroleum V. Nasby, the name came up of a recently deceased politician of Illinois whose merit was blemished by great vanity. His funeral was very largely attended.

“If General — had known how big a funeral he would have had,” said Mr. Lincoln, “he would have died years ago.”


A Senator, who was calling upon Mr. Lincoln, mentioned the name of a most virulent and dishonest official; one, who, though very brilliant, was very bad.

“It’s a good thing for B—” said Mr. Lincoln. “that there is such a thing as a deathbed repentance.”


A member of Congress from Ohio came into Mr. Lincoln’s presence in a state of unutterable intoxication, and sinking into a chair, exclaimed in tones that welled up fuzzy through the gallon or more of whiskey that he contained, “Oh, ‘why should (hic) the spirit of mortal be proud?'”

“My dear sir,” said the President, regarding him closely, “I see no reason whatever.”


When Abraham Lincoln once was asked to tell the story of his life, he replied:

“It is contained in one line of Gray’s ‘Elegy in a Country Churchyard’:

“‘The short and simple annals of the poor.'”

That was true at the time he said it, as everything else he said was Truth, but he was then only at the beginning of a career that was to glorify him as one of the heroes of the world, and place his name forever beside the immortal name of the mighty Washington.

Many great men, particularly those of America, began life in humbleness and poverty, but none ever came from such depths or rose to such a height as Abraham Lincoln.

His birthplace, in Hardin county, Kentucky, was but a wilderness, and Spencer county, Indiana, to which the Lincoln family removed when Abraham was in his eighth year, was a wilder and still more uncivilized region.

The little red schoolhouse which now so thickly adorns the country hillside had not yet been built. There were scattered log schoolhouses, but they were few and far between. In several of these Mr. Lincoln got the rudiments of an education–an education that was never finished, for to the day of his death he was a student and a seeker after knowledge.

Some records of his schoolboy days are still left us. One is a book made and bound by Lincoln himself, in which he had written the table of weights and measures, and the sums to be worked out therefrom. This was his arithmetic, for he was too poor to own a printed copy.


On one of the pages of this quaint book he had written these four lines of schoolboy doggerel:

“Abraham Lincoln,
His Hand and Pen,
He Will be Good,
But God knows when.”

The poetic spirit was strong in the youngscholar just then for on another page
of the same book he had
written these two verses, which are supposed to have been original with him:

“Time, what an empty vapor ’tis,
And days, how swift they are;
Swift as an Indian arrow
Fly on like a shooting star.

The present moment just is here,
Then slides away in haste,
That we can never say they’re ours, But only say they’re past.”

Another specimen of the poetical, or rhyming ability, is found in the following couplet, written by him for his friend, Joseph C. Richardson:

“Good boys who to their books apply,
Will all be great men by and by.”

In all, Lincoln’s “schooling” did not amount to a year’s time, but
he was a constant student outside of the schoolhouse. He read all the books he could borrow, and it was his chief delight during the day to lie under the shade of some tree, or at night in front of an open fireplace, reading and studying. His favorite books were the Bible and Aesop’s fables, which he kept always within reach and read time and again.

The first law book he ever read was “The Statutes of Indiana,” and it was from this work that he derived his ambition to be a lawyer.


When he was but a barefoot boy he would often make political speeches to the boys in the neighborhood, and when he had reached young manhood and was engaged in the labor of chopping wood or splitting rails he continued this practice of speechmaking with only the stumps and surrounding trees for hearers.

At the age of seventeen he had attained his full height of six feet four inches and it was at this time he engaged as a ferry boatman on the Ohio river, at thirty-seven cents a day.

That he was seriously beginning to think of public affairs even at this early age is shown by the fact that about this time he