Lincoln's Yarns and Stories
Colonel Alexander K. McClure
Part 2 out of 10
Bleeker acknowledged it was possible to overdo a good thing, and
then came back at the President with an anecdote of a good priest
who converted an Indian from heathenism to Christianity; the only
difficulty he had with him was to get him to pray for his
enemies. "This Indian had been taught to overcome and destroy all
his friends he didn't like," said Bleeker, "but the priest told
him that while that might be the Indian method, it was not the
doctrine of Christianity or the Bible. 'Saint Paul distinctly
says,' the priest told him, 'If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if
he thirst, give him drink.'
"The Indian shook his head at this, but when the priest added,
'For in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head,' Poor
Lo was overcome with emotion, fell on his knees, and with
outstretched hands and uplifted eyes invoked all sorts of
blessings on the heads of all his enemies, supplicating for
pleasant hunting-grounds, a large supply of squaws, lots of
papooses, and all other Indian comforts.
"Finally the good priest interrupted him (as you did me, Mr.
President), exclaiming, 'Stop, my son! You have discharged your
Christian duty, and have done more than enough.'
"'Oh, no, father,' replied the Indian; 'let me pray! I want to
burn him down to the stump! "
HAD A "KICK" COMING.
During the war, one of the Northern Governors, who was able,
earnest and untiring in aiding the administration, but always
complaining, sent dispatch after dispatch to the War Office,
protesting against the methods used in raising troops. After
reading all his papers, the President said, in a cheerful and
reassuring tone to the Adjutant-General:
"Never mind, never mind; those dispatches don't mean anything.
Just go right ahead. The Governor is like a boy I once saw at a
launching. When everything was ready, they picked out a boy and
sent him under the ship to knock away the trigger and let her go.
"At the critical moment everything depended on the boy. He had to
do the job well by a direct, vigorous blow, and then lie flat and
keep still while the boat slid over him.
"The boy did everything right, but he yelled as if he were being
murdered from the time he got under the keel until he got out. I
thought the hide was all scraped off his back, but he wasn't hurt
"The master of the yard told me that this boy was always chosen
for that job; that he did his work well; that he never had been
hurt, but that he always squealed in that way.
"That's just the way with Governor --. Make up your mind that he
is not hurt, and that he is doing the work right, and pay no
attention to his squealing. He only wants to make you understand
how hard his task is, and that he is on hand performing it."
THE CASE OF BETSY ANN DOUGHERTY.
Many requests and petitions made to Mr. Lincoln when he was
President were ludicrous and trifling, but he always entered into
them with that humor-loving spirit that was such a relief from
the grave duties of his great office.
Once a party of Southerners called on him in behalf of one Betsy
Ann Dougherty. The spokesman, who was an ex-Governor, said:
"Mr. President, Betsy Ann Dougherty is a good woman. She lived in
my county and did my washing for a long time. Her husband went
off and joined the rebel army, and I wish you would give her a
protection paper." The solemnity of this appeal struck Mr.
Lincoln as uncommonly ridiculous.
The two men looked at each other--the Governor desperately
earnest, and the President masking his humor behind the gravest
exterior. At last Mr. Lincoln asked, with inimitable gravity,
"Was Betsy Ann a good washerwoman?" "Oh, yes, sir, she was,
"Was your Betsy Ann an obliging woman?" "Yes, she was certainly
very kind," responded the Governor, soberly. "Could she do other
things than wash?" continued Mr. Lincoln with the same portentous
"Oh, yes; she was very kind--very."
"Where is Betsy Ann?"
"She is now in New York, and wants to come back to Missouri, but
she is afraid of banishment."
"Is anybody meddling with her?"
"No; but she is afraid to come back unless you will give her a
Thereupon Mr. Lincoln wrote on a visiting card the following:
"Let Betsy Ann Dougherty alone as long as she behaves herself.
He handed this card to her advocate, saying, "Give this to Betsy
"But, Mr. President, couldn't you write a few words to the
officers that would insure her protection?"
"No," said Mr. Lincoln, "officers have no time now to read
letters. Tell Betsy Ann to put a string in this card and hang it
around her neck. When the officers see this, they will keep their
hands off your Betsy Ann."
HAD TO WEAR A WOODEN SWORD.
Captain "Abe" Lincoln and his company (in the Black Hawk War)
were without any sort of military knowledge, and both were forced
to acquire such knowledge by attempts at drilling. Which was the
more awkward, the "squad" or the commander, it would have been
difficult to decide.
In one of Lincoln's earliest military problems was involved the
process of getting his company "endwise" through a gate. Finally
he shouted, "This company is dismissed for two minutes, when it
will fall in again on the other side of the gate!"
Lincoln was one of the first of his company to be arraigned for
unmilitary conduct. Contrary to the rules he fired a gun "within
the limits," and had his sword taken from him. The next
infringement of rules was by some of the men, who stole a
quantity of liquor, drank it, and became unfit for duty,
straggling out of the ranks the next day, and not getting
together again until late at night.
For allowing this lawlessness the captain was condemned to wear a
wooden sword for two days. These were merely interesting but
trivial incidents of the campaign. Lincoln was from the very
first popular with his men, although one of them told him to "go
to the devil."
"ABE" STIRRING THE "BLACK" COALS.
Under the caption, "The American Difficulty," "Punch" printed on
May 11th, 1861, the cartoon reproduced here. The following text
was placed beneath the illustration: PRESIDENT ABE: "What a nice
White House this would be, if it were not for the blacks!" It was
the idea in England, and, in fact, in all the countries on the
European continent, that the War of the Rebellion was fought to
secure the freedom of the negro slaves. Such was not the case.
The freedom of the slaves was one of the necessary consequences
of the Civil War, but not the cause of that bloody four years'
conflict. The War was the result of the secession of the states
of the South from the Union, and President "Abe's" main aim was
to compel the seceding states to resume their places in the
Federal Union of states.
The blacks did not bother President "Abe" in the least as he knew
he would be enabled to give them their freedom when the proper
time came. He had the project of freeing them in his mind long
before he issued his Emancipation Proclamation, the delay in
promulgating that document being due to the fact that he did not
wish to estrange the hundreds of thousands of patriots of the
border states who were fighting for the preservation of the
Union, and not for the freedom of the negro slaves. President
"Abe" had patience, and everything came out all right in the end.
GETTING RID OF AN ELEPHANT.
Charles A. Dana, who was Assistant Secretary of War under Mr.
Stanton, relates the following: A certain Thompson had been
giving the government considerable trouble. Dana received
information that Thompson was about to escape to Liverpool.
Calling upon Stanton, Dana was referred to Mr. Lincoln.
"The President was at the White House, business hours were over,
Lincoln was washing his hands. 'Hallo, Dana,' said he, as I
opened the door, 'what is it now?' 'Well, sir,' I said, 'here is
the Provost Marshal of Portland, who reports that Jacob Thompson
is to be in town to-night, and inquires what orders we have to
give.' 'What does Stanton say?' he asked. 'Arrest him,' I
replied. 'Well,' he continued, drawling his words, 'I rather
guess not. When you have an elephant on your hands, and he wants
to run away, better let him run.'"
GROTESQUE, YET FRIGHTFUL.
The nearest Lincoln ever came to a fight was when he was in the
vicinity of the skirmish at Kellogg's Grove, in the Black Hawk
War. The rangers arrived at the spot after the engagement and
helped bury the five men who were killed.
Lincoln told Noah Brooks, one of his biographers, that he
"remembered just how those men looked as we rode up the little
hill where their camp was. The red light of the morning sun was
streaming upon them as they lay, heads toward us, on the ground.
And every man had a round, red spot on the top of his head about
as big as a dollar, where the redskins had taken his scalp. It
was frightful, but it was grotesque; and the red sunlight seemed
to paint everything all over."
Lincoln paused, as if recalling the vivid picture, and added,
somewhat irrelevantly, "I remember that one man had on buckskin
"ABE" WAS NO DUDE.
Always indifferent in matters of dress, Lincoln cut but small
figure in social circles, even in the earliest days of Illinois.
His trousers were too short, his hat too small, and, as a rule,
the buttons on the back of his coat were nearer his shoulder
blades than his waist.
No man was richer than his fellows, and there was no aristocracy;
the women wore linsey-woolsey of home manufacture, and dyed them
in accordance with the tastes of the wearers; calico was rarely
seen, and a woman wearing a dress of that material was the envy
of her sisters.
There being no shoemakers the women wore moccasins, and the men
made their own boots. A hunting shirt, leggins made of skins,
buckskin breeches, dyed green, constituted an apparel no maiden
CHARACTERISTIC OF LINCOLN.
One man who knew Lincoln at New Salem, says the first time he saw
him he was lying on a trundle-bed covered with books and papers
and rocking a cradle with his foot.
The whole scene was entirely characteristic--Lincoln reading and
studying, and at the same time helping his landlady by quieting
A gentleman who knew Mr. Lincoln well in early manhood says:
"Lincoln at this period had nothing but plenty of friends."
After the customary hand-shaking on one occasion in the White
House at Washington several gentlemen came forward and asked the
President for his autograph. One of them gave his name as
"Cruikshank." "That reminds me," said Mr. Lincoln, "of what I
used to be called when a young man--'Long-shanks!'"
"PLOUGH ALL 'ROUND HIM."
Governor Blank went to the War Department one day in a towering
"I suppose you found it necessary to make large concessions to
him, as he returned from you perfectly satisfied," suggested a
"Oh, no," the President replied, "I did not concede anything. You
have heard how that Illinois farmer got rid of a big log that was
too big to haul out, too knotty to split, and too wet and soggy
"'Well, now,' said he, in response to the inquiries of his
neighbors one Sunday, as to how he got rid of it, 'well, now,
boys, if you won't divulge the secret, I'll tell you how I got
rid of it--I ploughed around it.'
"Now," remarked Lincoln, in conclusion, "don't tell anybody, but
that's the way I got rid of Governor Blank. I ploughed all round
him, but it took me three mortal hours to do it, and I was afraid
every minute he'd see what I was at."
"I'VE LOST MY APPLE."
During a public "reception," a farmer from one of the border
counties of Virginia told the President that the Union soldiers,
in passing his farm, had helped themselves not only to hay, but
his horse, and he hoped the President would urge the proper
officer to consider his claim immediately.
Mr. Lincoln said that this reminded him of an old acquaintance of
his, "Jack" Chase, a lumberman on the Illinois, a steady, sober
man, and the best raftsman on the river. It was quite a trick to
take the logs over the rapids; but he was skilful with a raft,
and always kept her straight in the channel. Finally a steamer
was put on, and "Jack" was made captain of her. He always used to
take the wheel, going through the rapids. One day when the boat
was plunging and wallowing along the boiling current, and
"Jack's" utmost vigilance was being exercised to keep her in the
narrow channel, a boy pulled his coat-tail and hailed him with:
"Say, Mister Captain! I wish you would just stop your boat a
minute--I've lost my apple overboard!"
LOST HIS CERTIFICATE OF CHARACTER.
Mr. Lincoln prepared his first inaugural address in a room over a
store in Springfield. His only reference works were Henry Clay's
great compromise speech of 1850, Andrew Jackson's Proclamation
against Nullification, Webster's great reply to Hayne, and a copy
of the Constitution.
When Mr. Lincoln started for Washington, to be inugurated, the
inaugural address was placed in a special satchel and guarded
with special care. At Harrisburg the satchel was given in charge
of Robert T. Lincoln, who accompanied his father. Before the
train started from Harrisburg the precious satchel was missing.
Robert thought he had given it to a waiter at the hotel, but a
long search failed to reveal the missing satchel with its
precious document. Lincoln was annoyed, angry, and finally in
despair. He felt certain that the address was lost beyond
recovery, and, as it only lacked ten days until the inauguration,
he had no time to prepare another. He had not even preserved the
notes from which the original copy had been written.
Mr. Lincoln went to Ward Lamon, his former law partner, then one
of his bodyguards, and informed him of the loss in the following
"Lamon, I guess I have lost my certificate of moral character,
written by myself. Bob has lost my gripsack containing my
inaugural address." Of course, the misfortune reminded him of a
"I feel," said Mr. Lincoln, "a good deal as the old member of the
Methodist Church did when he lost his wife at the camp meeting,
and went up to an old elder of the church and asked him if he
could tell him whereabouts in h--l his wife was. In fact, I am in
a worse fix than my Methodist friend, for if it were only a wife
that were missing, mine would be sure to bob up somewhere."
The clerk at the hotel told Mr. Lincoln that he would probably
find his missing satchel in the baggage-room. Arriving there, Mr.
Lincoln saw a satchel which he thought was his, and it was passed
out to him. His key fitted the lock, but alas! when it was opened
the satchel contained only a soiled shirt, some paper collars, a
pack of cards and a bottle of whisky. A few minutes later the
satchel containing the inaugural address was found among the pile
The recovery of the address also reminded Mr. Lincoln of a story,
which is thus narrated by Ward Lamon in his "Recollections of
The loss of the address and the search for it was the subject of
a great deal of amusement. Mr. Lincoln said many funny things in
connection with the incident. One of them was that he knew a
fellow once who had saved up fifteen hundred dollars, and had
placed it in a private banking establishment. The bank soon
failed, and he afterward received ten per cent of his investment.
He then took his one hundred and fifty dollars and deposited it
in a savings bank, where he was sure it would be safe. In a short
time this bank also failed, and he received at the final
settlement ten per cent on the amount deposited. When the fifteen
dollars was paid over to him, he held it in his hand and looked
at it thoughtfully; then he said, "Now, darn you, I have got you
reduced to a portable shape, so I'll put you in my pocket."
Suiting the action to the word, Mr. Lincoln took his address from
the bag and carefully placed it in the inside pocket of his vest,
but held on to the satchel with as much interest as if it still
contained his "certificate of moral character."
NOTE PRESENTED FOR PAYMENT.
The great English funny paper, London "Punch," printed this
cartoon on September 27th, 1862. It is intended to convey the
idea that Lincoln, having asserted that the war would be over in
ninety days, had not redeemed his word: The text under the
Cartoon in Punch was:
MR. SOUTH TO MR. NORTH: "Your 'ninety-day' promissory note isn't
taken up yet, sirree!"
The tone of the cartoon is decidedly unfriendly. The North
finally took up the note, but the South had to pay it. "Punch"
was not pleased with the result, but "Mr. North" did not care
particularly what this periodical thought about it. The United
States, since then, has been prepared to take up all of its
obligations when due, but it must be acknowledged that at the
time this cartoon was published the outlook was rather dark and
gloomy. Lincoln did not despair, however; but although business
was in rather bad shape for a time, the financial skies finally
cleared, business was resumed at the old stand, and Uncle Sam's
credit is now as good, or better, than other nations' cash in
DOG WAS A "LEETLE BIT AHEAD."
Lincoln could not sympathize with those Union generals who were
prone to indulge in high-sounding promises, but whose
performances did not by any means come up to their predictions as
to what they would do if they ever met the enemy face to face. He
said one day, just after one of these braggarts had been soundly
thrashed by the Confederates:
"These fellows remind me of the fellow who owned a dog which, so
he said, just hungered and thirsted to combat and eat up wolves.
It was a difficult matter, so the owner declared, to keep that
dog from devoting the entire twenty-four hours of each day to the
destruction of his enemies. He just 'hankered' to get at them.
"One day a party of this dog-owner's friends thought to have some
sport. These friends heartily disliked wolves, and were anxious
to see the dog eat up a few thousand. So they organized a hunting
party and invited the dog-owner and the dog to go with them. They
desired to be personally present when the wolf-killing was in
"It was noticed that the dog-owner was not over-enthusiastic in
the matter; he pleaded a 'business engagement,' but as he was the
most notorious and torpid of the town loafers, and wouldn't have
recognized a 'business engagement' had he met it face to face,
his excuse was treated with contempt. Therefore he had to go.
"The dog, however, was glad enough to go, and so the party
started out. Wolves were in plenty, and soon a pack was
discovered, but when the 'wolf-hound' saw the ferocious animals
he lost heart, and, putting his tail between his legs, endeavored
to slink away. At last--after many trials--he was enticed into
the small growth of underbrush where the wolves had secreted
themselves, and yelps of terror betrayed the fact that the battle
"Away flew the wolves, the dog among them, the hunting party
following on horseback. The wolves seemed frightened, and the dog
was restored to public favor. It really looked as if he had the
savage creatures on the run, as he was fighting heroically when
"Wolves and dog soon disappeared, and it was not until the party
arrived at a distant farmhouse that news of the combatants was
'Have you seen anything of a wolf-dog and a pack of wolves around
here?' was the question anxiously put to the male occupant of the
house, who stood idly leaning upon the gate.
"'Yep,' was the short answer.
"'How were they going?'
"'What was their position when you saw them?'
"'Well,' replied the farmer, in a most exasperatingly deliberate
way, 'the dog was a leetle bit ahead.'
"Now, gentlemen," concluded the President, "that's the position
in which you'll find most of these bragging generals when they
get into a fight with the enemy. That's why I don't like military
"ABE'S" FIGHT WITH NEGROES.
When Lincoln was nineteen years of age, he went to work for a Mr.
Gentry, and, in company with Gentry's son, took a flatboat load
of provisions to New Orleans. At a plantation six miles below
Baton Rouge, while the boat was tied up to the shore in the dead
hours of the night, and Abe and Allen were fast asleep in the
bed, they were startled by footsteps on board. They knew
instantly that it was a gang of negroes come to rob and perhaps
murder them. Allen, thinking to frighten the negroes, called out,
"Bring guns, Lincoln, and shoot them!" Abe came without the guns,
but fell among the negroes with a huge bludgeon and belabored
them most cruelly, following them onto the bank. They rushed back
to their boat and hastily put out into the stream. It is said
that Lincoln received a scar in this tussle which he carried with
him to his grave. It was on this trip that he saw the workings of
slavery for the first time. The sight of New Orleans was like a
wonderful panorama to his eyes, for never before had he seen
wealth, beauty, fashion and culture. He returned home with new
and larger ideas and stronger opinions of right and justice.
NOISE LIKE A TURNIP.
"Every man has his own peculiar and particular way of getting at
and doing things," said President Lincoln one day, "and he is
often criticised because that way is not the one adopted by
others. The great idea is to accomplish what you set out to do.
When a man is successful in whatever he attempts, he has many
imitators, and the methods used are not so closely scrutinized,
although no man who is of good intent will resort to mean,
underhanded, scurvy tricks.
"That reminds me of a fellow out in Illinois, who had better luck
in getting prairie chickens than any one in the neighborhood. He
had a rusty old gun no other man dared to handle; he never seemed
to exert himself, being listless and indifferent when out after
game, but he always brought home all the chickens he could carry,
while some of the others, with their finely trained dogs and
latest improved fowling-pieces, came home alone.
"'How is it, Jake?' inquired one sportsman, who, although a good
shot, and knew something about hunting, was often unfortunate,
'that you never come home without a lot of birds?'
"Jake grinned, half closed his eyes, and replied: 'Oh, I don't
know that there's anything queer about it. I jes' go ahead an'
"'Yes, I know you do; but how do you do it?'
"'Honest, Jake, I won't say a word. Hope to drop dead this
"'Never say nothing, if I tell you?'
"'Cross my heart three times.'
"This reassured Jake, who put his mouth close to the ear of his
eager questioner, and said, in a whisper:
"'All you got to do is jes' to hide in a fence corner an' make a
noise like a turnip. That'll bring the chickens every time.'"
WARDING OFF GOD'S VENGEANCE.
When Lincoln was a candidate for re-election to the Illinois
Legislature in 1836, a meeting was advertised to be held in the
court-house in Springfield, at which candidates of opposing
parties were to speak. This gave men of spirit and capacity a
fine opportunity to show the stuff of which they were made.
George Forquer was one of the most prominent citizens; he had
been a Whig, but became a Democrat--possibly for the reason that
by means of the change he secured the position of Government land
register, from President Andrew Jackson. He had the largest and
finest house in the city, and there was a new and striking
appendage to it, called a lightning-rod! The meeting was very
large. Seven Whig and seven Democratic candidates spoke.
Lincoln closed the discussion. A Kentuckian (Joshua F. Speed),
who had heard Henry Clay and other distinguished Kentucky
orators, stood near Lincoln, and stated afterward that he "never
heard a more effective speaker; . . . the crowd seemed to be
swayed by him as he pleased." What occurred during the closing
portion of this meeting must be given in full, from Judge
"Forquer, although not a candidate, asked to be heard for the
Democrats, in reply to Lincoln. He was a good speaker, and well
known throughout the county. His special task that day was to
attack and ridicule the young countryman from Salem.
"Turning to Lincoln, who stood within a few feet of him, he said:
'This young man must be taken down, and I am truly sorry that the
task devolves upon me.' He then proceeded, in a very overbearing
way, and with an assumption of great superiority, to attack
Lincoln and his speech. He was fluent and ready with the rough
sarcasm of the stump, and he went on to ridicule the person,
dress and arguments of Lincoln with so much success that
Lincoln's friends feared that he would be embarrassed and
The Clary's Grove boys were present, and were restrained with
difficulty from "getting up a fight" in behalf of their favorite
(Lincoln), they and all his friends feeling that the attack was
ungenerous and unmanly.)
"Lincoln, however, stood calm, but his flashing eye and pale
cheek indicated his indignation. As soon as Forquer had closed he
took the stand, and first answered his opponent's arguments fully
and triumphantly. So impressive were his words and manner that a
hearer (Joshua F. Speed) believes that he can remember to this
day and repeat some of the expressions.
"Among other things he said: 'The gentleman commenced his speech
by saying that "this young man," alluding to me, "must be taken
down." I am not so young in years as I am in the tricks and the
trades of a politician, but,' said he, pointing to Forquer, 'live
long or die young, I would rather die now than, like the
gentleman, change my politics, and with the change receive an
office worth $3,000 a year, and then,' continued he, 'feel
obliged to erect a lightning-rod over my house, to protect a
guilty conscience from an offended God!'"
JEFF DAVIS AND CHARLES THE FIRST.
Jefferson Davis insisted on being recognized by his official
title as commander or President in the regular negotiation with
the Government. This Mr. Lincoln would not consent to.
Mr. Hunter thereupon referred to the correspondence between King
Charles the First and his Parliament as a precedent for a
negotiation between a constitutional ruler and rebels. Mr.
Lincoln's face then wore that indescribable expression which
generally preceded his hardest hits, and he remarked: "Upon
questions of history, I must refer you to Mr. Seward, for he is
posted in such things, and I don't profess to be; but my only
distinct recollection of the matter is, that Charles lost his
LOVED SOLDIERS' HUMOR.
Lincoln loved anything that savored of wit or humor among the
soldiers. He used to relate two stories to show, he said, that
neither death nor danger could quench the grim humor of the
"A soldier of the Army of the Potomac was being carried to the
rear of battle with both legs shot off, who, seeing a pie-woman,
called out, 'Say, old lady, are them pies sewed or pegged?'
"And there was another one of the soldiers at the battle of
Chancellorsville, whose regiment, waiting to be called into the
fight, was taking coffee. The hero of the story put to his lips a
crockery mug which he had carried with care through several
campaigns. A stray bullet, just missing the tinker's head, dashed
the mug into fragments and left only the handle on his finger.
Turning his head in that direction, he scowled, 'Johnny, you
can't do that again!'"
BAD TIME FOR A BARBECUE.
Captain T. W. S. Kidd of Springfield was the crier of the court
in the days when Mr. Lincoln used to ride the circuit.
"I was younger than he," says Captain Kidd, "but he had a sort of
admiration for me, and never failed to get me into his stories. I
was a story-teller myself in those days, and he used to laugh
very heartily at some of the stories I told him.
"Now and then he got me into a good deal of trouble. I was a
Democrat, and was in politics more or less. A good many of our
Democratic voters at that time were Irishmen. They came to
Illinois in the days of the old canal, and did their honest share
in making that piece of internal improvement an accomplished
"One time Mr. Lincoln told the story of one of those important
young fellows--not an Irishman--who lived in every town, and have
the cares of state on their shoulders. This young fellow met an
Irishman on the street, and called to him, officiously: 'Oh,
Mike, I'm awful glad I met you. We've got to do something to wake
up the boys. The campaign is coming on, and we've got to get out
voters. We've just had a meeting up here, and we're going to have
the biggest barbecue that ever was heard of in Illinois. We are
going to roast two whole oxen, and we're going to have Douglas
and Governor Cass and some one from Kentucky, and all the big
Democratic guns, and we're going to have a great big time.'
"'By dad, that's good!' says the Irishman. 'The byes need
"'Yes, and you're on one of the committees, and you want to
hustle around and get them waked up, Mike.'
"'When is the barbecue to be?' asked Mike.
"'Friday, two weeks.'
"'Friday, is it? Well, I'll make a nice committeeman, settin'
the barbecue on a day with half of the Dimocratic party of
Sangamon county can't ate a bite of mate. Go on wid ye.'
"Lincoln told that story in one of his political speeches, and
when the laugh was over he said: 'Now, gentlemen, I know that
story is true, for Tom Kidd told it to me.' And then the
Democrats would make trouble for me for a week afterward, and I'd
have to explain."
HE'D SEE IT AGAIN.
About two years before Lincoln was nominated for the Presidency
he went to Bloomington, Illinois, to try a case of some
importance. His opponent--who afterward reached a high place in
his profession--was a young man of ability, sensible but
sensitive, and one to whom the loss of a case was a great blow.
He therefore studied hard and made much preparation.
This particular case was submitted to the jury late at night,
and, although anticipating a favorable verdict, the young
attorney spent a sleepless night in anxiety. Early next morning
he learned, to his great chagrin, that he had lost the case.
Lincoln met him at the court-house some time after the jury had
come in, and asked him what had become of his case.
With lugubrious countenance and in a melancholy tone the young
man replied, "It's gone to hell."
"Oh, well," replied Lincoln, "then you will see it again."
CALL ANOTHER WITNESS.
When arguing a case in court, Mr. Lincoln never used a word which
the dullest juryman could not understand. Rarely, if ever, did a
Latin term creep into his arguments. A lawyer, quoting a legal
maxim one day in court, turned to Lincoln, and said: "That is so,
is it not, Mr. Lincoln?"
"If that's Latin." Lincoln replied, "you had better call another
A CONTEST WITH LITTLE "TAD."
Mr. Carpenter, the artist, relates the following incident: "Some
photographers came up to the White House to make some
stereoscopic studies for me of the President's office. They
requested a dark closet in which to develop the pictures, and,
without a thought that I was infringing upon anybody's rights, I
took them to an unoccupied room of which little 'Tad' had taken
possession a few days before, and, with the aid of a couple of
servants, had fitted up a miniature theater, with stage,
curtains, orchestra, stalls, parquette and all. Knowing that the
use required would interfere with none of his arrangements, I led
the way to this apartment.
"Everything went on well, and one or two pictures had been taken,
when suddenly there was an uproar. The operator came back to the
office and said that 'Tad' had taken great offense at the
occupation of his room without his consent, and had locked the
door, refusing all admission.
"The chemicals had been taken inside, and there was no way of
getting at them, he having carried off the key. In the midst of
this conversation 'Tad' burst in, in a fearful passion. He laid
all the blame upon me--said that I had no right to use his room,
and the men should not go in even to get their things. He had
locked the door and they should not go there again--'they had no
business in his room!'
"Mr. Lincoln was sitting for a photograph, and was still in the
chair. He said, very mildly, 'Tad, go and unlock the door.' Tad
went off muttering into his mother's room, refusing to obey. I
followed him into the passage, but no coaxing would pacify him.
Upon my return to the President, I found him still patiently in
the chair, from which he had not risen. He said: 'Has not the boy
opened the door?' I replied that we could do nothing with him--he
had gone off in a great pet. Mr. Lincoln's lips came together
firmly, and then, suddenly rising, he strode across the passage
with the air of one bent on punishment, and disappeared in the
domestic apartments. Directly he returned with the key to the
theater, which he unlocked himself.
"'Tad,' said he, half apologetically, 'is a peculiar child. He
was violently excited when I went to him. I said, "Tad, do you
know that you are making your father a great deal of trouble?" He
burst into tears, instantly giving me up the key.'"
REMINDED HIM OF "A LITTLE STORY."
When Lincoln's attention was called to the fact that, at one time
in his boyhood, he had spelled the name of the Deity with a small
"g," he replied:
"That reminds me of a little story. It came about that a lot of
Confederate mail was captured by the Union forces, and, while it
was not exactly the proper thing to do, some of our soldiers
opened several letters written by the Southerners at the front to
their people at home.
"In one of these missives the writer, in a postscript, jotted
down this assertion
"'We'll lick the Yanks termorrer, if goddlemity (God Almighty)
spares our lives.'
"That fellow was in earnest, too, as the letter was written the
day before the second battle of Manassas."
"FETCHED SEVERAL SHORT ONES."
"The first time I ever remember seeing 'Abe' Lincoln," is the
testimony of one of his neighbors, "was when I was a small boy
and had gone with my father to attend some kind of an election.
One of the neighbors, James Larkins, was there.
"Larkins was a great hand to brag on anything he owned. This time
it was his horse. He stepped up before 'Abe,' who was in a crowd,
and commenced talking to him, boasting all the while of his
"'I have got the best horse in the country,' he shouted to his
young listener. 'I ran him nine miles in exactly three minutes,
and he never fetched a long breath.'
"'I presume,' said 'Abe,' rather dryly, 'he fetched a good many
short ones, though.'"
LINCOLN LUGS THE OLD MAN.
On May 3rd, 1862, "Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper" printed
this cartoon, over the title of "Sandbag Lincoln and the Old Man
of the Sea, Secretary of the Navy Welles." It was intended to
demonstrate that the head of the Navy Department was incompetent
to manage the affairs of the Navy; also that the Navy was not
doing as good work as it might.
When this cartoon was published, the United States Navy had
cleared and had under control the Mississippi River as far south
as Memphis; had blockaded all the cotton ports of the South; had
assisted in the reduction of a number of Confederate forts; had
aided Grant at Fort Donelson and the battle of Shiloh; the
Monitor had whipped the ironclad terror, Merrimac (the
Confederates called her the Virginia); Admiral Farragut's fleet
had compelled the surrender of the city of New Orleans, the great
forts which had defended it, and the Federal Government obtained
control of the lower Mississippi.
"The Old Man of the Sea" was therefore, not a drag or a weight
upon President Lincoln, and the Navy was not so far behind in
making a good record as the picture would have the people of the
world believe. It was not long after the Monitor's victory that
the United States Navy was the finest that ever plowed the seas.
The building of the Monitor also revolutionized naval warfare.
McCLELLAN WAS "INTRENCHING."
About a week after the Chicago Convention, a gentleman from New
York called upon the President, in company with the Assistant
Secretary of War, Mr. Dana.
In the course of conversation, the gentleman said: "What do you
think, Mr. President, is the reason General McClellan does not
reply to the letter from the Chicago Convention?"
"Oh!" replied Mr. Lincoln, with a characteristic twinkle of the
eye, "he is intrenching!"
MAKE SOMETHING OUT OF IT, ANYWAY.
>From the day of his nomination by the Chicago convention, gifts
poured in upon Lincoln. Many of these came in the form of wearing
apparel. Mr. George Lincoln, of Brooklyn, who brought to
Springfield, in January, 1861, a handsome silk hat to the
President-elect, the gift of a New York hatter, told some friends
that in receiving the hat Lincoln laughed heartily over the gifts
of clothing, and remarked to Mrs. Lincoln: "Well, wife, if
nothing else comes out of this scrape, we are going to have some
new clothes, are we not?"
VICIOUS OXEN HAVE SHORT HORNS.
In speaking of the many mean and petty acts of certain members of
Congress, the President, while talking on the subject one day
with friends, said:
"I have great sympathy for these men, because of their temper and
their weakness; but I am thankful that the good Lord has given to
the vicious ox short horns, for if their physical courage were
equal to their vicious disposition, some of us in this neck of
the woods would get hurt."
LINCOLN'S NAME FOR "WEEPING WATER."
"I was speaking one time to Mr. Lincoln," said Governor Saunders,
of Nebraska, of a little Nebraskan settlement on the Weeping
Water, a stream in our State."
"'Weeping Water!' said he.
"Then with a twinkle in his eye, he continued.
"'I suppose the Indians out there call Minneboohoo, don't they?
They ought to, if Laughing Water is Minnehaha in their
PETER CARTWRIGHT'S DESCRIPTION OF LINCOLN.
Peter Cartwright, the famous and eccentric old Methodist
preacher, who used to ride a church circuit, as Mr. Lincoln and
others did the court circuit, did not like Lincoln very well,
probably because Mr. Lincoln was not a member of his flock, and
once defeated the preacher for Congress. This was Cartwright's
description of Lincoln: "This Lincoln is a man six feet four
inches tall, but so angular that if you should drop a plummet
from the center of his head it would cut him three times before
it touched his feet."
NO DEATHS IN HIS HOUSE.
A gentleman was relating to the President how a friend of his had
been driven away from New Orleans as a Unionist, and how, on his
expulsion, when he asked to see the writ by which he was
expelled, the deputation which called on him told him the
Government would do nothing illegal, and so they had issued no
illegal writs, and simply meant to make him go of his own free
"Well," said Mr. Lincoln, "that reminds me of a hotel-keeper down
at St. Louis, who boasted that he never had a death in his hotel,
for whenever a guest was dying in his house he carried him out to
die in the gutter."
PAINTED HIS PRINCIPLES.
The day following the adjournment of the Baltimore Convention, at
which President Lincoln was renominated, various political
organizations called to pay their respects to the President.
While the Philadelphia delegation was being presented, the
chairman of that body, in introducing one of the members, said:
"Mr. President, this is Mr. S., of the second district of our
State,--a most active and earnest friend of yours and the cause.
He has, among other things, been good enough to paint, and
present to our league rooms, a most beautiful portrait of
President Lincoln took the gentleman's hand in his, and shaking
it cordially said, with a merry voice, "I presume, sir, in
painting your beautiful portrait, you took your idea of me from
my principles and not from my person."
DIGNIFYING THE STATUTE.
Lincoln was married--he balked at the first date set for the
ceremony and did not show up at all--November 4, 1842, under most
happy auspices. The officiating clergyman, the Rev. Mr. Dresser,
used the Episcopal church service for marriage. Lincoln placed
the ring upon the bride's finger, and said, "With this ring I now
thee wed, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow."
Judge Thomas C. Browne, who was present, exclaimed, "Good
gracious, Lincoln! the statute fixes all that!"
"Oh, well," drawled Lincoln, "I just thought I'd add a little
dignity to the statute."
LINCOLN CAMPAIGN MOTTOES.
The joint debates between Lincoln and Douglas were attended by
crowds of people, and the arrival of both at the places of
speaking were in the nature of a triumphal procession. In these
processions there were many banners bearing catchphrases and
mottoes expressing the sentiment of the people on the candidates
and the issues.
The following were some of the mottoes on the Lincoln banners:
[Westward the star of empire takes its way;
The girls link on to Lincoln, their mothers were for Clay.]
[Abe, the Giant-Killer.]
[Edgar County for the Tall Sucker.]
[Free Territories and Free Men,
Free Pulpits and Free Preachers,
Free Press and a Free Pen,
Free Schools and Free Teachers.]
GIVING AWAY THE CASE.
Between the first election and inauguration of Mr. Lincoln the
disunion sentiment grew rapidly in the South, and President
Buchanan's failure to stop the open acts of secession grieved Mr.
Lincoln sorely. Mr. Lincoln had a long talk with his friend,
Judge Gillespie, over the state of affairs. One incident of the
conversation is thus narrated by the Judge:
"When I retired, it was the master of the house and chosen ruler
of the country who saw me to my room. 'Joe,' he said, as he was
about to leave me, 'I am reminded and I suppose you will never
forget that trial down in Montgomery county, where the lawyer
associated with you gave away the whole case in his opening
speech. I saw you signaling to him, but you couldn't stop him.
"'Now, that's just the way with me and Buchanan. He is giving
away the case, and I have nothing to say, and can't stop him.
POSING WITH A BROOMSTICK.
Mr. Leonard Volk, the artist, relates that, being in Springfield
when Lincoln's nomination for President was announced, he called
upon Mr. Lincoln, whom he found looking smiling and happy. "I
exclaimed, 'I am the first man from Chicago, I believe, who has
had the honor of congratulating you on your nomination for
President.' Then those two great hands took both of mine with a
grasp never to be forgotten, and while shaking, I said, 'Now that
you will doubtless be the next President of the United States, I
want to make a statue of you, and shall try my best to do you
"Said he, 'I don't doubt it, for I have come to the conclusion
that you are an honest man,' and with that greeting, I thought my
hands in a fair way of being crushed.
"On the Sunday following, by agreement, I called to make a cast
of Mr. Lincoln's hands. I asked him to hold something in his
hands, and told him a stick would do. Thereupon he went to the
woodshed, and I heard the saw go, and he soon returned to the
dining-room, whittling off the end of a piece of broom handle. I
remarked to him that he need not whittle off the edges. 'Oh,
well,' said he, 'I thought I would like to have it nice.'"
"BOTH LENGTH AND BREADTH."
During Lincoln's first and only term in Congress--he was elected
in 1846--he formed quite a cordial friendship with Stephen A.
Douglas, a member of the United States Senate from Illinois, and
the beaten one in the contest as to who should secure the hand of
Miss Mary Todd. Lincoln was the winner; Douglas afterwards beat
him for the United States Senate, but Lincoln went to the White
During all of the time that they were rivals in love and in
politics they remained the best of friends personally. They were
always glad to see each other, and were frequently together. The
disparity in their size was always the more noticeable upon such
occasions, and they well deserved their nicknames of "Long Abe"
and the "Little Giant." Lincoln was the tallest man in the
National House of Representatives, and Douglas the shortest (and
perhaps broadest) man the Senate, and when they appeared on the
streets together much merriment was created. Lincoln, when joked
about the matter, replied, in a very serious tone, "Yes, that's
about the length and breadth of it."
"ABE" RECITES A SONG.
Lincoln couldn't sing, and he also lacked the faculty of musical
adaptation. He had a liking for certain ballads and songs, and
while he memorized and recited their lines, someone else did the
singing. Lincoln often recited for the delectation of his
friends, the following, the authorship of which is unknown:
The first factional fight in old Ireland, they say,
Was all on account of St. Patrick's birthday;
It was somewhere about midnight without any doubt,
And certain it is, it made a great rout.
On the eighth day of March, as some people say,
St. Patrick at midnight he first saw the day;
While others assert 'twas the ninth he was born--
'Twas all a mistake--between midnight and morn.
Some blamed the baby, some blamed the clock;
Some blamed the doctor, some the crowing cock.
With all these close questions sure no one could know,
Whether the babe was too fast or the clock was too slow.
Some fought for the eighth, for the ninth some would die;
He who wouldn't see right would have a black eye.
At length these two factions so positive grew,
They each had a birthday, and Pat he had two.
Till Father Mulcahay who showed them their sins,
He said none could have two birthdays but as twins.
"Now boys, don't be fighting for the eight or the nine;
Don't quarrel so always, now why not combine."
Combine eight with nine. It is the mark;
Let that be the birthday. Amen! said the clerk.
So all got blind drunk, which completed their bliss,
And they've kept up the practice from that day to this.
"MANAGE TO KEEP HOUSE."
Senator John Sherman, of Ohio, introduced his brother, William T.
Sherman (then a civilian) to President Lincoln in March, 1861.
Sherman had offered his services, but, as in the case of Grant,
they had been refused.
After the Senator had transacted his business with the President,
he said: "Mr. President, this is my brother, Colonel Sherman, who
is just up from Louisiana; he may give you some information you
To this Lincoln replied, as reported by Senator Sherman himself:
"Ah! How are they getting along down there?"
Sherman answered: "They think they are getting along swimmingly;
they are prepared for war."
To which Lincoln responded: "Oh, well, I guess we'll manage to
keep the house."
"Tecump," whose temper was not the mildest, broke out on "Brother
John" as soon as they were out of the White House, cursed the
politicians roundly, and wound up with, "You have got things in a
h--l of a fix, and you may get out as best you can."
Sherman was one of the very few generals who gave Lincoln little
or no worry.
GRANT "TUMBLED" RIGHT AWAY.
General Grant told this story about Lincoln some years after the
"Just after receiving my commission as lieutenant-general the
President called me aside to speak to me privately. After a brief
reference to the military situation, he said he thought he could
illustrate what he wanted to say by a story. Said he:
"'At one time there was a great war among the animals, and one
side had great difficulty in getting a commander who had
sufficient confidence in himself. Finally they found a monkey by
the name of Jocko, who said he thought he could command their
army if his tail could be made a little longer. So they got more
tail and spliced it on to his caudal appendage.
"'He looked at it admiringly, and then said he thought he ought
to have still more tail. This was added, and again he called for
more. The splicing process was repeated many times until they had
coiled Jocko's tail around the room, filling all the space.
"'Still he called for more tail, and, there being no other place
to coil it, they began wrapping it around his shoulders. He
continued his call for more, and they kept on winding the
additional tail around him until its weight broke him down.'
"I saw the point, and, rising from my chair, replied, 'Mr.
President, I will not call for any more assistance unless I find
it impossible to do with what I already have.'"
"DON'T KILL HIM WITH YOUR FIST."
Ward Lamon, Marshal of the District of Columbia during Lincoln's
time in Washington, was a powerful man; his strength was
phenomenal, and a blow from his fist was like unto that coming
from the business end of a sledge.
Lamon tells this story, the hero of which is not mentioned by
name, but in all probability his identity can be guessed:
"On one occasion, when the fears of the loyal element of the city
(Washington) were excited to fever-heat, a free fight near the
old National Theatre occurred about eleven o'clock one night. An
officer, in passing the place, observed what was going on, and
seeing the great number of persons engaged, he felt it to be his
duty to command the peace.
"The imperative tone of his voice stopped the fighting for a
moment, but the leader, a great bully, roughly pushed back the
officer and told him to go away or he would whip him. The officer
again advanced and said, 'I arrest you,' attempting to place his
hand on the man's shoulder, when the bully struck a fearful blow
at the officer's face.
"This was parried, and instantly followed by a blow from the fist
of the officer, striking the fellow under the chin and knocking
him senseless. Blood issued from his mouth, nose and ears. It was
believed that the man's neck was broken. A surgeon was called,
who pronounced the case a critical one, and the wounded man was
hurried away on a litter to the hospital.
"There the physicians said there was concussion of the brain, and
that the man would die. All the medical skill that the officer
could procure was employed in the hope of saving the life of the
man. His conscience smote him for having, as he believed, taken
the life of a fellow-creature, and he was inconsolable.
"Being on terms of intimacy with the President, about two o'clock
that night the officer went to the White House, woke up Mr.
Lincoln, and requested him to come into his office, where he told
him his story. Mr. Lincoln listened with great interest until the
narrative was completed, and then asked a few questions, after
which he remarked:
"'I am sorry you had to kill the man, but these are times of
war, and a great many men deserve killing. This one, according to
your story, is one of them; so give yourself no uneasiness about
the matter. I will stand by you.'
"'That is not why I came to you. I knew I did my duty, and had
no fears of your disapproval of what I did,' replied the officer;
and then he added: 'Why I came to you was, I felt great grief
over the unfortunate affair, and I wanted to talk to you about
"Mr. Lincoln then said, with a smile, placing his hand on the
officer' shoulder: 'You go home now and get some sleep; but let
me give you this piece of advice--hereafter, when you have
occasion to strike a man, don't hit him with your fist; strike
him with a club, a crowbar, or with something that won't kill
COULD BE ARBITRARY.
Lincoln could be arbitrary when occasion required. This is the
letter he wrote to one of the Department heads:
"You must make a job of it, and provide a place for the bearer
of this, Elias Wampole. Make a job of it with the collector and
have it done. You can do it for me, and you must."
There was no delay in taking action in this matter. Mr. Wampole,
or "Eli," as he was thereafter known, "got there."
A GENERAL BUSTIFICATION.
Many amusing stories are told of President Lincoln and his
gloves. At about the time of his third reception he had on a
tight-fitting pair of white kids, which he had with difficulty
got on. He saw approaching in the distance an old Illinois friend
named Simpson, whom he welcomed with a genuine Sangamon county
(Illeenoy) shake, which resulted in bursting his white kid glove,
with an audible sound. Then, raising his brawny hand up before
him, looking at it with an indescribable expression, he said,
while the whole procession was checked, witnessing this scene:
"Well, my old friend, this is a general bustification. You and I
were never intended to wear these things. If they were stronger
they might do well enough to keep out the cold, but they are a
failure to shake hands with between old friends like us. Stand
aside, Captain, and I'll see you shortly."
Simpson stood aside, and after the unwelcome ceremony was
terminated he rejoined his old Illinois friend in familiar
H. C. Whitney wrote in 1866: "I was in Washington in the Indian
service for a few days before August, 1861, and I merely said to
President Lincoln one day: 'Everything is drifting into the war,
and I guess you will have to put me in the army.'
"The President looked up from his work and said, good-humoredly:
'I'm making generals now; in a few days I will be making
quartermasters, and then I'll fix you.'"
NO POSTMASTERS IN HIS POCKET.
In the "Diary of a Public Man" appears this jocose anecdote:
"Mr. Lincoln walked into the corridor with us; and, as he bade us
good-by and thanked Blank for what he had told him, he again
brightened up for a moment and asked him in an abrupt kind of
way, laying his hand as he spoke with a queer but not uncivil
familiarity on his shoulder, 'You haven't such a thing as a
postmaster in your pocket, have you?'
Blank stared at him in astonishment, and I thought a little in
alarm, as if he suspected a sudden attack of insanity; then Mr.
Lincoln went on:
'You see it seems to me kind of unnatural that you shouldn't have
at least a postmaster in your pocket. Everybody I've seen for
days past has had foreign ministers and collectors, and all
kinds, and I thought you couldn't have got in here without having
at least a postmaster get into your pocket!'"
HE "SKEWED" THE LINE.
When a surveyor, Mr. Lincoln first platted the town of
Petersburg, Ill. Some twenty or thirty years afterward the
property-owners along one of the outlying streets had trouble in
fixing their boundaries. They consulted the official plat and got
no relief. A committee was sent to Springfield to consult the
distinguished surveyor, but he failed to recall anything that
would give them aid, and could only refer them to the record. The
dispute therefore went into the courts. While the trial was
pending, an old Irishman named McGuire, who had worked for some
farmer during the summer, returned to town for the winter. The
case being mentioned in his presence, he promptly said: "I can
tell you all about it. I helped carry the chain when Abe Lincoln
laid out this town. Over there where they are quarreling about
the lines, when he was locating the street, he straightened up
from his instrument and said: 'If I run that street right
through, it will cut three or four feet off the end of --'s
house. It's all he's got in the world and he never could get
another. I reckon it won't hurt anything out here if I skew the
line a little and miss him."'
The line was "skewed," and hence the trouble, and more testimony
furnished as to Lincoln's abounding kindness of heart, that would
not willingly harm any human being.
"WHEREAS," HE STOLE NOTHING.
One of the most celebrated courts-martial during the War was that
of Franklin W. Smith and his brother, charged with defrauding the
government. These men bore a high character for integrity. At
this time, however, courts-martial were seldom invoked for any
other purpose than to convict the accused, and the Smiths shared
the usual fate of persons whose cases were submitted to such
arbitrament. They were kept in prison, their papers seized, their
business destroyed, and their reputations ruined, all of which
was followed by a conviction.
The finding of the court was submitted to the President, who,
after a careful investigation, disapproved the judgment, and
wrote the following endorsement upon the papers:
"Whereas, Franklin W. Smith had transactions with the Navy
Department to the amount of a millon and a quarter of dollars;
"Whereas, he had a chance to steal at least a quarter of a
million and was only charged with stealing twenty-two hundred
dollars, and the question now is about his stealing one hundred,
I don't believe he stole anything at all.
"Therefore, the record and the findings are disapproved, declared
null and void, and the defendants are fully discharged."
NOT LIKE THE POPE'S BULL.
President Lincoln, after listening to the arguments and appeals
of a committee which called upon him at the White House not long
before the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, said:
"I do not want to issue a document that the whole world will see
must necessarily be inoperative, like the Pope's bull against the
COULD HE TELL?
A "high" private of the One Hundred and Fortieth Infantry
Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, wounded at Chancellorsville,
was taken to Washington. One day, as he was becoming
convalescent, a whisper ran down the long row of cots that the
President was in the building and would soon pass by. Instantly
every boy in blue who was able arose, stood erect, hands to the
side, ready to salute his Commanderin-Chief.
The Pennsylvanian stood six feet seven inches in his stockings.
Lincoln was six feet four. As the President approached this giant
towering above him, he stopped in amazement, and casting his eyes
from head to foot and from foot to head, as if contemplating the
immense distance from one extremity to the other, he stood for a
At length, extending his hand, he exclaimed, "Hello, comrade, do
you know when your feet get cold?"
DARNED UNCOMFORTABLE SITTING.
"Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper" of March 2nd, 1861, two
days previous to the inauguration of President-elect Lincoln,
contained the caricature reproduced here. It was intended to
convey the idea that the National Administration would thereafter
depend upon the support of bayonets to uphold it, and the text
underneath the picture ran as follows:
OLD ABE: "Oh, it's all well enough to say that I must support the
dignity of my high office by force--but it's darned uncomfortable
sitting, I can tell yer."
This journal was not entirely friendly to the new Chief
Magistrate, but it could not see into the future. Many of the
leading publications of the East, among them some of those which
condemned slavery and were opposed to secession, did not believe
Lincoln was the man for the emergency, but instead of doing what
they could do to help him along, they attacked him most
viciously. No man, save Washington, was more brutally lied about
than Lincoln, but he bore all the slurs and thrusts, not to
mention the open, cruel antagonism of those who should have been
his warmest friends, with a fortitude and patience few men have
ever shown. He was on the right road, and awaited the time when
his course should receive the approval it merited.
"WHAT'S-HIS-NAME" GOT THERE.
General James B. Fry told a good one on Secretary of War Stanton,
who was worsted in a contention with the President. Several
brigadier-generals were to be selected, and Lincoln maintained
that "something must be done in the interest of the Dutch." Many
complaints had come from prominent men, born in the Fatherland,
but who were fighting for the Union.
"Now, I want Schimmelpfennig given one of those brigadierships."
Stanton was stubborn and headstrong, as usual, but his manner and
tone indicated that the President would have his own way in the
end. However, he was not to be beaten without having made a
"But, Mr. President," insisted the Iron War Secretary, "it may be
that this Mr. Schim--what's-his-name--has no recommendations
showing his fitness. Perhaps he can't speak English."
"That doesn't matter a bit, Stanton," retorted Lincoln, "he may
be deaf and dumb for all I know, but whatever language he speaks,
if any, we can furnish troops who will understand what he says.
That name of his will make up for any differences in religion,
politics or understanding, and I'll take the risk of his coming
out all right."
Then, slamming his great hand upon the Secretary's desk, he said,
"Schim-mel-fen-nig must be appointed."
And he was, there and then.
A REALLY GREAT GENERAL.
"Do you know General A--?" queried the President one day to a
friend who had "dropped in" at the White House.
"Certainly; but you are not wasting any time thinking about him,
are you?" was the rejoinder.
"You wrong him," responded the President, "he is a really great
man, a philosopher."
"How do you make that out? He isn't worth the powder and ball
necessary to kill him so I have heard military men say," the
"He is a mighty thinker," the President returned, "because he has
mastered that ancient and wise admonition, 'Know thyself;' he has
formed an intimate acquaintance with himself, knows as well for
what he is fitted and unfitted as any man living. Without doubt
he is a remarkable man. This War has not produced another like
"How is it you are so highly pleased with General A-- all at
"For the reason," replied Mr. Lincoln, with a merry twinkle of
the eye, "greatly to my relief, and to the interests of the
country, he has resigned. The country should express its
gratitude in some substantial way."
"SHRUNK UP NORTH."
There was no member of the Cabinet from the South when
Attorney-General Bates handed in his resignation, and President
Lincoln had a great deal of trouble in making a selection.
Finally Titian F. Coffey consented to fill the vacant place for a
time, and did so until the appointment of Mr. Speed.
In conversation with Mr. Coffey the President quaintly remarked:
"My Cabinet has shrunk up North, and I must find a Southern man.
I suppose if the twelve Apostles were to be chosen nowadays, the
shrieks of locality would have to be heeded."
LINCOLN ADOPTED THE SUGGESTION.
It is not generally known that President Lincoln adopted a
suggestion made by Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase in
regard to the Emancipation Proclamation, and incorporated it in
that famous document.
After the President had read it to the members of the Cabinet he
asked if he had omitted anything which should be added or
inserted to strengthen it. It will be remembered that the closing
paragraph of the Proclamation reads in this way:
"And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice
warranted by the Constitution, I invoke the considerate judgment
of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God!" President
Lincoln's draft of the paper ended with the word "mankind," and
the words, "and the gracious favor of Almighty God," were those
suggested by Secretary Chase.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE.
It was the President's overweening desire to accommodate all
persons who came to him soliciting favors, but the opportunity
was never offered until an untimely and unthinking disease, which
possessed many of the characteristics of one of the most dreaded
maladies, confined him to his bed at the White House.
The rumor spread that the President was afflicted with this
disease, while the truth was that it was merely a very mild
attack of varioloid. The office-seekers didn't know the facts,
and for once the Executive Mansion was clear of them.
One day, a man from the West, who didn't read the papers, but
wanted the postoffice in his town, called at the White House. The
President, being then practically a well man, saw him. The caller
was engaged in a voluble endeavor to put his capabilities in the
most favorable light, when the President interrupted him with the
remark that he would be compelled to make the interview short, as
his doctor was due.
"Why, Mr. President, are you sick?" queried the visitor.
"Oh, nothing much," replied Mr. Lincoln, "but the physician says
he fears the worst."
"What worst, may I ask?"
"Smallpox," was the answer; "but you needn't be scared. I'm only
in the first stages now."
The visitor grabbed his hat, sprang from his chair, and without a
word bolted for the door.
"Don't be in a hurry," said the President placidly; "sit down and
"Thank you, sir; I'll call again," shouted the Westerner, as he
disappeared through the opening in the wall.
"Now, that's the way with people," the President said, when
relating the story afterward. "When I can't give them what they
want, they're dissatisfied, and say harsh things about me; but
when I've something to give to everybody they scamper off."
TOO MANY PIGS FOR THE TEATS.
An applicant for a sutlership in the army relates this story: "In
the winter of 1864, after serving three years in the Union Army,
and being honorably discharged, I made application for the post
sutlership at Point Lookout. My father being interested, we made
application to Mr. Stanton, the Secretary of War. We obtained an
audience, and were ushered into the presence of the most pompous
man I ever met. As I entered he waved his hand for me to stop at
a given distance from him, and then put these questions, viz.:
"'Did you serve three years in the army?'
"'I did, sir.'
"'Were you honorably discharged?'
"'I was, sir.'
"'Let me see your discharge.'
"I gave it to him. He looked it over, then said:
'Were you ever wounded?' I told him yes, at the battle of
Williamsburg, May 5, 1861.
"He then said: 'I think we can give this position to a soldier
who has lost an arm or leg, he being more deserving; and he then
said I looked hearty and healthy enough to serve three years
more. He would not give me a chance to argue my case.
The audience was at an end. He waved his hand to me. I was then
dismissed from the august presence of the Honorable Secretary of
War. "My father was waiting for me in the hallway, who saw by my
countenance that I was not successful. I said to my father:
"'Let us go over to Mr. Lincoln; he may give us more
"He said it would do me no good, but we went over. Mr. Lincoln's
reception room was full of ladies and gentlemen when we entered.
"My turn soon came. Lincoln turned to my father and said
"'Now, gentlemen, be pleased to be as quick as possible with
your business, as it is growing late.'
"My father then stepped up to Lincoln and introduced me to him.
Lincoln then said:
"'Take a seat, gentlemen, and state your business as quickly as
"There was but one chair by Lincoln, so he motioned my father to
sit, while I stood. My father stated the business to him as
stated above. He then said:
"'Have you seen Mr. Stanton?'
"We told him yes, that he had refused. He (Mr. Lincoln) then
"'Gentlemen, this is Mr. Stanton's business; I cannot interfere
with him; he attends to all these matters and I am sorry I cannot
"He saw that we were disappointed, and did his best to revive our
spirits. He succeeded well with my father, who was a Lincoln man,
and who was a staunch Republican.
"Mr. Lincoln then said:
"'Now, gentlemen, I will tell you, what it is; I have thousands
of applications like this every day, but we cannot satisfy all
for this reason, that these positions are like office
seekers--there are too many pigs for the teats.'
"The ladies who were listening to the conversation placed their
handkerchiefs to their faces and turned away. But the joke of
'Old Abe' put us all in a good humor. We then left the presence
of the greatest and most just man who ever lived to fill the
GREELEY CARRIES LINCOLN TO THE LUNATIC ASYLUM.
No sooner was Abraham Lincoln made the candidate for the
Presidency of the Republican Party, in 1860, than the opposition
began to lampoon and caricature him. In the cartoon here
reproduced, which is given the title of:
"The Republican Party Going to the Right House," Lincoln is
represented as entering the Lunatic Asylum, riding on a rail,
carried by Horace Greeley, the great Abolitionist; Lincoln,
followed by his "fellow-cranks," is assuring the latter that the
millennium is "going to begin," and that all requests will be
Lincoln's followers are depicted as those men and women composing
the "free love" element; those who want religion abolished;
negroes, who want it understood that the white man has no rights
his black brother is bound to respect; women suffragists, who
demand that men be made subject to female authority; tramps, who
insist upon free lodging-houses; criminals, who demand the right
to steal from all they meet; and toughs, who want the police
forces abolished, so that "the b'hoys" can "run wid de masheen,"
and have "a muss" whenever they feel like it, without
interference by the authorities.
THE LAST TIME HE SAW DOUGLAS.
Speaking of his last meeting with Judge Douglas, Mr. Lincoln
said: "One day Douglas came rushing in and said he had just got a
telegraph dispatch from some friends in Illinois urging him to
come out and help set things right in Egypt, and that he would
go, or stay in Washington, just where I thought he could do the
"I told him to do as he chose, but that probably he could do best
in Illinois. Upon that he shook hands with me, and hurried away
to catch the next train. I never saw him again."
HURT HIS LEGS LESS.
Lincoln was one of the attorneys in a case of considerable
importance, court being held in a very small and dilapidated
schoolhouse out in the country; Lincoln was compelled to stoop
very much in order to enter the door, and the seats were so low
that he doubled up his legs like a jackknife.
Lincoln was obliged to sit upon a school bench, and just in front
of him was another, making the distance between him and the seat
in front of him very narrow and uncomfortable.
His position was almost unbearable, and in order to carry out his
preference which he secured as often as possible, and that was
"to sit as near to the jury as convenient," he took advantage of
his discomfort and finally said to the Judge on the "bench":
"Your Honor, with your permission, I'll sit up nearer to the
gentlemen of the jury, for it hurts my legs less to rub my calves
against the bench than it does to skin my shins."
A LITTLE SHY OR GRAMMAR.
When Mr. Lincoln had prepared his brief letter accepting the
Presidential nomination he took it to Dr. Newton Bateman, the
State Superintendent of Education.
"Mr. Schoolmaster," he said, "here is my letter of acceptance. I
am not very strong on grammar and I wish you to see if it is all
right. I wouldn't like to have any mistakes in it.".
The doctor took the letter and after reading it, said:
"There is only one change I should suggest, Mr. Lincoln, you have
written 'It shall be my care to not violate or disregard it in
any part,' you should have written 'not to violate.' Never split
an infinitive, is the rule."
Mr. Lincoln took the manuscript, regarding it a moment with a
puzzled air, "So you think I better put those two little fellows
end to end, do you?" he said as he made the change.
HIS FIRST SATIRICAL WRITING.
Reuben and Charles Grigsby were married in Spencer county,
Indiana, on the same day to Elizabeth Ray and Matilda Hawkins,
respectively. They met the next day at the home of Reuben
Grigsby, Sr., and held a double infare, to which most of the
county was invited, with the exception of the Lincolns. This
Abraham duly resented, and it resulted in his first attempt at
satirical writing, which he called "The Chronicles of Reuben."
The manuscript was lost, and not recovered until 1865, when a
house belonging to one of the Grigsbys was torn down. In the loft
a boy found a roll of musty old papers, and was intently reading
them, when he was asked what he was doing.
"Reading a portion of the Scriptures that haven't been revealed
yet," was the response. This was Lincoln's "Chronicles," which is
"THE CHRONICLES OF REUBEN."
"Now, there was a man whose name was Reuben, and the same was
very great in substance, in horses and cattle and swine, and a
very great household.
"It came to pass when the sons of Reuben grew up that they were
desirous of taking to themselves wives, and, being too well known
as to honor in their own country, they took a journey into a far
country and there procured for themselves wives.
"It came to pass also that when they were about to make the
return home they sent a messenger before them to bear the tidings
to their parents.
"These, inquiring of the messenger what time their sons and wives
would come, made a great feast and called all their kinsmen and
neighbors in, and made great preparation.
"When the time drew nigh, they sent out two men to meet the
grooms and their brides, with a trumpet to welcome them, and to
"When they came near unto the house of Reuben, the father, the
messenger came before them and gave a shout, and the whole
multitude ran out with shouts of joy and music, playing on all
kinds of instruments.
"Some were playing on harps, some on viols, and some blowing on
"Some also were casting dust and ashes toward Heaven, and chief
among them all was Josiah, blowing his bugle and making sounds so
great the neighboring hills and valleys echoed with the
"When they had played and their harps had sounded till the grooms
and brides approached the gates, Reuben, the father, met them and
welcomed them to his house.
"The wedding feast being now ready, they were all invited to sit
down and eat, placing the bridegrooms and their brides at each
end of the table.
"Waiters were then appointed to serve and wait on the guests.
When all had eaten and were full and merry, they went out again
and played and sung till night.
"And when they had made an end of feasting and rejoicing the
multitude dispersed, each going to his own home.
"The family then took seats with their waiters to converse while
preparations were being made in two upper chambers for the brides
"This being done, the waiters took the two brides upstairs,
placing one in a room at the right hand of the stairs and the
other on the left.
"The waiters came down, and Nancy, the mother, then gave
directions to the waiters of the bridegrooms, and they took them
upstairs, but placed them in the wrong rooms.
"The waiters then all came downstairs.
"But the mother, being fearful of a mistake, made inquiry of the
waiters, and learning the true facts, took the light and sprang
"It came to pass she ran to one of the rooms and exclaimed, 'O
Lord, Reuben, you are with the wrong wife.'
"The young men, both alarmed at this, ran out with such violence
against each other, they came near knocking each other down.
"The tumult gave evidence to those below that the mistake was
"At last they all came down and had a long conversation about who
made the mistake, but it could not be decided.
"So ended the chapter."
The original manuscript of "The Chronicles of Reuben" was last in
the possession of Redmond Grigsby, of Rockport, Indiana. A
newspaper which had obtained a copy of the "Chronicles," sent a
reporter to interview Elizabeth Grigsby, or Aunt Betsy, as she
was called, and asked her about the famous manuscript and the
mistake made at the double wedding.
"Yes, they did have a joke on us," said Aunt Betsy. "They said my
man got into the wrong room and Charles got into my room. But it
wasn't so. Lincoln just wrote that for mischief. Abe and my man
often laughed about that.
LIKELY TO DO IT.
An officer, having had some trouble with General Sherman, being
very angry, presented himself before Mr. Lincoln, who was
visiting the camp, and said, "Mr. President, I have a cause of
grievance. This morning I went to General Sherman and he
threatened to shoot me."
"Threatened to shoot you?" asked Mr. Lincoln. "Well, (in a stage
whisper) if I were you I would keep away from him; if he
threatens to shoot, I would not trust him, for I believe he would
"THE ENEMY ARE 'OURN'"
Early in the Presidential campaign of 1864, President Lincoln
said one night to a late caller at the White House:
"We have met the enemy and they are 'ourn!' I think the cabal of
obstructionists 'am busted.' I feel certain that, if I live, I am
going to be re-elected. Whether I deserve to be or not, it is not
for me to say; but on the score even of remunerative chances for
speculative service, I now am inspired with the hope that our
disturbed country further requires the valuable services of your
humble servant. 'Jordan has been a hard road to travel,' but I
feel now that, notwithstanding the enemies I have made and the
faults I have committed, I'll be dumped on the right side of that
"I hope, however, that I may never have another four years of
such anxiety, tribulation and abuse. My only ambition is and has
been to put down the rebellion and restore peace, after which I
want to resign my office, go abroad, take some rest, study
foreign governments, see something of foreign life, and in my old
age die in peace with all of the good of God's creatures."
"AND--HERE I AM!"
An old acquaintance of the President visited him in Washington.
Lincoln desired to give him a place. Thus encouraged, the
visitor, who was an honest man, but wholly inexperienced in
public affairs or business, asked for a high office,
Superintendent of the Mint.
The President was aghast, and said: "Good gracious! Why didn't he
ask to be Secretary of the Treasury, and have done with it?"
Afterward, he said: "Well, now, I never thought Mr.-- had
anything more than average ability, when we were young men
together. But, then, I suppose he thought the same thing about
me, and--here I am!"
SAFE AS LONG AS THEY WERE GOOD.
At the celebrated Peace Conference, whereat there was much
"pow-wow" and no result, President Lincoln, in response to
certain remarks by the Confederate commissioners, commented with
some severity upon the conduct of the Confederate leaders, saying
they had plainly forfeited all right to immunity from punishment
for their treason.
Being positive and unequivocal in stating his views concerning
individual treason, his words were of ominous import. There was a
pause, during which Commissioner Hunter regarded the speaker with
a steady, searching look. At length, carefully measuring his
words, Mr. Hunter said:
"Then, Mr. President, if we understand you correctly, you think
that we of the Confederacy have committed treason; are traitors
to your Government; have forfeited our rights, and are proper
subjects for the hangman. Is not that about what your words
"Yes," replied President Lincoln, "you have stated the
proposition better than I did. That is about the size of it!"
Another pause, and a painful one succeeded, and then Hunter, with
a pleasant smile remarked:
"Well, Mr. Lincoln, we have about concluded that we shall not be
hanged as long as you are President--if we behave ourselves."
And Hunter meant what he said.
"SMELT NO ROYALTY IN OUR CARRIAGE."
On one occasion, in going to meet an appointment in the southern
part of the Sucker State--that section of Illinois called
Egypt--Lincoln, with other friends, was traveling in the
"caboose" of a freight train, when the freight was switched off
the main track to allow a special train to pass.
Lincoln's more aristocratic rival (Stephen A. Douglas) was being
conveyed to the same town in this special. The passing train was
decorated with banners and flags, and carried a band of music,
which was playing "Hail to the Chief."
As the train whistled past, Lincoln broke out in a fit of
laughter, and said: "Boys, the gentleman in that car evidently
smelt no royalty in our carriage."
HELL A MILE FROM THE WHITE HOUSE.
Ward Lamon told this story of President Lincoln, whom he found
one day in a particularly gloomy frame of mind. Lamon said:
"The President remarked, as I came in, 'I fear I have made
Senator Wade, of Ohio, my enemy for life.'
"'How?' I asked.
"'Well,' continued the President, 'Wade was here just now urging
me to dismiss Grant, and, in response to something he said, I
remarked, "Senator, that reminds me of a story.'"
"'What did Wade say?' I inquired of the President.
"'He said, in a petulant way,' the President responded, '"It is
with you, sir, all story, story! You are the father of every
military blunder that has been made during the war. You are on
your road to hell, sir, with this government, by your obstinacy,
and you are not a mile off this minute."'
"'What did you say then?'
" I good-naturedly said to him,' the President replied,
'"Senator, that is just about from here to the Capitol, is it
not?" He was very angry, grabbed up his hat and cane, and went
HIS "GLASS HACK"
President Lincoln had not been in the White House very long
before Mrs. Lincoln became seized with the idea that a fine new
barouche was about the proper thing for "the first lady in the
land." The President did not care particularly about it one way
or the other, and told his wife to order whatever she wanted.
Lincoln forgot all about the new vehicle, and was overcome with
astonishment one afternoon when, having acceded to Mrs. Lincoln's
desire to go driving, he found a beautiful barouche standing in
front of the door of the White House.
His wife watched him with an amused smile, but the only remark he
made was, "Well, Mary, that's about the slickest 'glass hack' in
town, isn't it?"
LEAVE HIM KICKING.
Lincoln, in the days of his youth, was often unfaithful to his
Quaker traditions. On the day of election in 1840, word came to
him that one Radford, a Democratic contractor, had taken
possession of one of the polling places with his workmen, and was
preventing the Whigs from voting. Lincoln started off at a gait
which showed his interest in the matter in hand.
He went up to Radford and persuaded him to leave the polls,
remarking at the same time: "Radford, you'll spoil and blow, if
you live much longer."
Radford's prudence prevented an actual collision, which, it is
said, Lincoln regretted. He told his friend Speed he wanted
Radford to show fight so that he might "knock him down and leave
"WHO COMMENCED THIS FUSS?"
President Lincoln was at all times an advocate of peace, provided
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