Lincoln's Yarns and Stories
Colonel Alexander K. McClure
Part 3 out of 10
it could be obtained honorably and with credit to the United
States. As to the cause of the Civil War, which side of Mason and
Dixon's line was responsible for it, who fired the first shots,
who were the aggressors, etc., Lincoln did not seem to bother
about; he wanted to preserve the Union, above all things.
Slavery, he was assured, was dead, but he thought the former
slaveholders should be recompensed.
To illustrate his feelings in the matter he told this story:
"Some of the supporters of the Union cause are opposed to
accommodate or yield to the South in any manner or way because
the Confederates began the war; were determined to take their
States out of the Union, and, consequently, should be held
responsible to the last stage for whatever may come in the
future. Now this reminds me of a good story I heard once, when I
lived in Illinois.
"A vicious bull in a pasture took after everybody who tried to
cross the lot, and one day a neighbor of the owner was the
victim. This man was a speedy fellow and got to a friendly tree
ahead of the bull, but not in time to climb the tree. So he led
the enraged animal a merry race around the tree, finally
succeeding in seizing the bull by the tail.
"The bull, being at a disadvantage, not able to either catch the
man or release his tail, was mad enough to eat nails; he dug up
the earth with his feet, scattered gravel all around, bellowed
until you could hear him for two miles or more, and at length
broke into a dead run, the man hanging onto his tail all the
"While the bull, much out of temper, was legging it to the best
of his ability, his tormentor, still clinging to the tail, asked,
'Darn you, who commenced this fuss?'
"It's our duty to settle this fuss at the earliest possible
moment, no matter who commenced it. That's my idea of it."
"ABE'S" LITTLE JOKE.
When General W. T. Sherman, November 12th, 1864, severed all
communication with the North and started for Savannah with his
magnificent army of sixty thousand men, there was much anxiety
for a month as to his whereabouts. President Lincoln, in response
to an inquiry, said: "I know what hole Sherman went in at, but I
don't know what hole he'll come out at."
Colonel McClure had been in consultation with the President one
day, about two weeks after Sherman's disappearance, and in this
connection related this incident
"I was leaving the room, and just as I reached the door the
President turned around, and, with a merry twinkling of the eye,
inquired, 'McClure, wouldn't you like to hear something from
"The inquiry electrified me at the instant, as it seemed to imply
that Lincoln had some information on the subject. I immediately
answered, 'Yes, most of all, I should like to hear from Sherman.'
"To this President Lincoln answered, with a hearty laugh: 'Well,
I'll be hanged if I wouldn't myself.'"
WHAT SUMMER THOUGHT.
Although himself a most polished, even a fastidious, gentleman,
Senator Sumner never allowed Lincoln's homely ways to hide his
great qualities. He gave him a respect and esteem at the start
which others accorded only after experience. The Senator was most
tactful, too, in his dealings with Mrs. Lincoln, and soon had a
firm footing in the household. That he was proud of this, perhaps
a little boastful, there is no doubt.
Lincoln himself appreciated this. "Sumner thinks he runs me," he
said, with an amused twinkle, one day.
A USELESS DOG.
When Hood's army had been scattered into fragments, President
Lincoln, elated by the defeat of what had so long been a menacing
force on the borders of Tennessee was reminded by its collapse of
the fate of a savage dog belonging to one of his neighbors in the
frontier settlements in which he lived in his youth. "The dog,"
he said, "was the terror of the neighborhood, and its owner, a
churlish and quarrelsome fellow, took pleasure in the brute's
"Finally, all other means having failed to subdue the creature, a
man loaded a lump of meat with a charge of powder, to which was
attached a slow fuse; this was dropped where the dreaded dog
would find it, and the animal gulped down the tempting bait.
"There was a dull rumbling, a muffled explosion, and fragments of
the dog were seen flying in every direction. The grieved owner,
picking up the shattered remains of his cruel favorite, said: 'He
was a good dog, but as a dog, his days of usefulness are over.'
Hood's army was a good army," said Lincoln, by way of comment,
"and we were all afraid of it, but as an army, its usefulness is
ORIGIN OF THE "INFLUENCE" STORY.
Judge Baldwin, of California, being in Washington, called one day
on General Halleck, then Commander-in-Chief of the Union forces,
and, presuming upon a familiar acquaintance in California a few
years since, solicited a pass outside of our lines to see a
brother in Virginia, not thinking that he would meet with a
refusal, as both his brother and himself were good Union men.
"We have been deceived too often," said General Halleck, "and I
regret I can't grant it."
Judge B. then went to Stanton, and was very briefly disposed of
with the same result. Finally, he obtained an interview with Mr.
Lincoln, and stated his case.
"Have you applied to General Halleck?" inquired the President.
"Yes, and met with a flat refusal," said Judge B.
"Then you must see Stanton," continued the President.
"I have, and with the same result," was the reply.
"Well, then," said Mr. Lincoln, with a smile, "I can do nothing;
for you must know that I have very little influence with this
Administration, although I hope to have more with the next."
FELT SORRY FOR BOTH.
Many ladies attended the famous debates between Lincoln and
Douglas, and they were the most unprejudiced listeners. "I can
recall only one fact of the debates," says Mrs. William Crotty,
of Seneca, Illinois, "that I felt so sorry for Lincoln while
Douglas was speaking, and then to my surprise I felt so sorry for
Douglas when Lincoln replied."
The disinterested to whom it was an intellectual game, felt the
power and charm of both men.
WHERE DID IT COME FROM?
"What made the deepest impression upon you?" inquired a friend
one day, "when you stood in the presence of the Falls of Niagara,
the greatest of natural wonders?"
"The thing that struck me most forcibly when I saw the Falls,"
Lincoln responded, with characteristic deliberation, "was, where
in the world did all that water come from?"
"LONG ABE" FOUR YEARS LONGER.
The second election of Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency of the
United States was the reward of his courage and genius bestowed
upon him by the people of the Union States. General George B.
McClellan was his opponent in 1864 upon the platform that "the
War is a failure," and carried but three States--New Jersey,
Delaware and Kentucky. The States which did not think the War was
a failure were those in New England, New York, Pennsylvania, all
the Western commonwealths, West Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana,
Arkansas and the new State of Nevada, admitted into the Union on
October 31st. President Lincoln's popular majority over
McClellan, who never did much toward making the War a success,
was more than four hundred thousand. Underneath the cartoon
reproduced here, from "Harper's Weekly" of November 26th, 1864,
were the words, "Long Abraham Lincoln a Little Longer."
But the beloved President's time upon earth was not to be much
longer, as he was assassinated just one month and ten days after
his second inauguration. Indeed, the words, "a little longer,"
printed below the cartoon, were strangely prophetic, although not
intended to be such.
The people of the United States had learned to love "Long Abe,"
their affection being of a purely personal nature, in the main.
No other Chief Executive was regarded as so sincerely the friend
of the great mass of the inhabitants of the Republic as Lincoln.
He was, in truth, one of "the common people," having been born
among them, and lived as one of them.
Lincoln's great height made him an easy subject for the
cartoonist, and they used it in his favor as well as against him.
"ALL SICKER'N YOUR MAN."
A Commissioner to the Hawaiian Islands was to be appointed, and
eight applicants had filed their papers, when a delegation from
the South appeared at the White House on behalf of a ninth. Not
only was their man fit--so the delegation urged--but was also in
bad health, and a residence in that balmy climate would be of
great benefit to him.
The President was rather impatient that day, and before the
members of the delegation had fairly started in, suddenly closed
the interview with this remark:
"Gentlemen, I am sorry to say that there are eight other
applicants for that place, and they are all 'sicker'n' your man."
EASIER TO EMPTY THE POTOMAC.
An officer of low volunteer rank persisted in telling and
re-telling his troubles to the President on a summer afternoon
when Lincoln was tired and careworn.
After listening patiently, he finally turned upon the man, and,
looking wearily out upon the broad Potomac in the distance, said
in a peremptory tone that ended the interview:
"Now, my man, go away, go away. I cannot meddle in your case. I
could as easily bail out the Potomac River with a teaspoon as
attend to all the details of the army."
HE WANTED A STEADY HAND.
When the Emancipation Proclamation was taken to Mr. Lincoln by
Secretary Seward, for the President's signature, Mr. Lincoln took
a pen, dipped it in the ink, moved his hand to the place for the
signature, held it a moment, then removed his hand and dropped
the pen. After a little hesitation, he again took up the pen and
went through the same movement as before. Mr. Lincoln then turned
to Mr. Seward and said:
"I have been shaking hands since nine o'clock this morning, and
my right arm is almost paralyzed. If my name ever goes into
history, it will be for this act, and my whole soul is in it. If
my hand trembles when I sign the Proclamation, all who examine
the document hereafter will say, 'He hesitated.'"
He then turned to the table, took up the pen again, and slowly,
firmly wrote "Abraham Lincoln," with which the whole world is now
He then looked up, smiled, and said, "That will do."
LINCOLN SAW STANTON ABOUT IT.
Mr. Lovejoy, heading a committee of Western men, discussed an
important scheme with the President, and the gentlemen were then
directed to explain it to Secretary of War Stanton.
Upon presenting themselves to the Secretary, and showing the
President's order, the Secretary said: "Did Lincoln give you an
order of that kind?"
"He did, sir."
"Then he is a d--d fool," said the angry Secretary.
"Do you mean to say that the President is a d--d fool?" asked
Lovejoy, in amazement.
"Yes, sir, if he gave you such an order as that."
The bewildered Illinoisan betook himself at once to the President
and related the result of the conference.
"Did Stanton say I was a d--d fool?" asked Lincoln at the close
of the recital.
"He did, sir, and repeated it."
After a moment's pause, and looking up, the President said: "If
Stanton said I was a d--d fool, then I must be one, for he is
nearly always right, and generally says what he means. I will
slip over and see him."
MRS. LINCOLN'S SURPRISE.
A good story is told of how Mrs. Lincoln made a little surprise
for her husband.
In the early days it was customary for lawyers to go from one
county to another on horseback, a journey which often required
several weeks. On returning from one of these trips, late one
night, Mr. Lincoln dismounted from his horse at the familiar
corner and then turned to go into the house, but stopped; a
perfectly unknown structure was before him. Surprised, and
thinking there must be some mistake, he went across the way and
knocked at a neighbor's door. The family had retired, and so
"Abe Lincoln," was the reply. "I am looking for my house. I
thought it was across the way, but when I went away a few weeks
ago there was only a one-story house there and now there is a
two-story house in its place. I think I must be lost."
The neighbors then explained that Mrs. Lincoln had added another
story during his absence. And Mr. Lincoln laughed and went to his
MENACE TO THE GOVERNMENT.
The persistence of office-seekers nearly drove President Lincoln
wild. They slipped in through the half-opened doors of the
Executive Mansion; they dogged his steps if he walked; they edged
their way through the crowds and thrust their papers in his hands
when he rode; and, taking it all in all, they well-nigh worried
him to death.
He once said that if the Government passed through the Rebellion
without dismemberment there was the strongest danger of its
falling a prey to the rapacity of the office-seeking class.
"This human struggle and scramble for office, for a way to live
without work, will finally test the strength of our
institutions," were the words he used.
TROOPS COULDN'T FLY OVER IT.
On April 20th a delegation from Baltimore appeared at the White
House and begged the President that troops for Washington be sent
around and not through Baltimore.
President Lincoln replied, laughingly: "If I grant this
concession, you will be back tomorrow asking that no troops be
marched 'around' it."
The President was right. That afternoon, and again on Sunday and
Monday, committees sought him, protesting that Maryland soil
should not be "polluted" by the feet of soldiers marching against
The President had but one reply: "We must have troops, and as
they can neither crawl under Maryland nor fly over it, they must
come across it."
PAT WAS "FORNINST THE GOVERNMENT."
The Governor-General of Canada, with some of his principal
officers, visited President Lincoln in the summer of 1864.
They had been very troublesome in harboring blockade runners, and
they were said to have carried on a large trade from their ports
with the Confederates. Lincoln treated his guests with great
After a pleasant interview, the Governor, alluding to the coming
Presidential election said, jokingly, but with a grain of
sarcasm: "I understand Mr. President, that everybody votes in
this country. If we remain until November, can we vote?"
"You remind me, replied the President, "of a countryman of yours,
a green emigrant from Ireland. Pat arrived on election day, and
perhaps was as eager a your Excellency to vote, and to vote
early, and late and often.
"So, upon landing at Castle Garden, he hastened to the nearest
voting place, and as he approached, the judge who received the
ballots inquired, 'Who do you want to vote for? On which side are
you?' Poor Pat was embarrassed; he did not know who were the
candidates. He stopped, scratched his head, then, with the
readiness of his countrymen, he said:
"'I am forninst the Government, anyhow. Tell me, if your Honor
plase: which is the rebellion side, and I'll tell you haw I want
to vote. In ould Ireland, I was always on the rebellion side,
and, by Saint Patrick, I'll do that same in America.' Your
Excellency," said Mr. Lincoln, "would, I should think, not be at
all at a loss on which side to vote!"
"CAN'T SPARE THIS MAN."
One night, about eleven o'clock, Colonel A. K. McClure, whose
intimacy with President Lincoln was so great that he could obtain
admittance to the Executive Mansion at any and all hours, called
at the White House to urge Mr. Lincoln to remove General Grant
After listening patiently for a long time, the President,
gathering himself up in his chair, said, with the utmost
"I can't spare this man; he fights!"
In relating the particulars of this interview, Colonel McClure
"That was all he said, but I knew that it was enough, and that
Grant was safe in Lincoln's hands against his countless hosts of
enemies. The only man in all the nation who had the power to save
Grant was Lincoln, and he had decided to do it. He was not
influenced by any personal partiality for Grant, for they had
"It was not until after the battle of Shiloh, fought on the 6th
and 7th of April, 1862, that Lincoln was placed in a position to
exercise a controlling influence in shaping the destiny of Grant.
The first reports from the Shiloh battle-field created profound
alarm throughout the entire country, and the wildest
exaggerations were spread in a floodtide of vituperation against
"The few of to-day who can recall the inflamed condition of
public sentiment against Grant caused by the disastrous first
day's battle at Shiloh will remember that he was denounced as
incompetent for his command by the public journals of all parties
in the North, and with almost entire unanimity by Senators and
Congressmen, regardless of political affinities.
"I appealed to Lincoln for his own sake to remove Grant at once,
and in giving my reasons for it I simply voiced the admittedly
overwhelming protest from the loyal people of the land against
Grant's continuance in command.
"I did not forget that Lincoln was the one man who never allowed
himself to appear as wantonly defying public sentiment. It seemed
to me impossible for him to save Grant without taking a crushing
load of condemnation upon himself; but Lincoln was wiser than all
those around him, and he not only saved Grant, but he saved him
by such well-concerted effort that he soon won popular applause
from those who were most violent in demanding Grant's dismissal."
HIS TEETH CHATTERED.
During the Lincoln-Douglas joint debates of 1858, the latter
accused Lincoln of having, when in Congress, voted against the
appropriation for supplies to be sent the United States soldiers
in Mexico. In reply, Lincoln said: "This is a perversion of the
facts. I was opposed to the policy of the administration in
declaring war against Mexico; but when war was declared I never
failed to vote for the support of any proposition looking to the
comfort of our poor fellows who were maintaining the dignity of
our flag in a war that I thought unnecessary and unjust."
He gradually became more and more excited; his voice thrilled and
his whole frame shook. Sitting on the stand was O. B. Ficklin,
who had served in Congress with Lincoln in 1847. Lincoln reached
back, took Ficklin by the coat-collar, back of his neck, and in
no gentle manner lifted him from his seat as if he had been a
kitten, and roared: "Fellow-citizens, here is Ficklin, who was at
that time in Congress with me, and he knows it is a lie."
He shook Ficklin until his teeth chattered. Fearing he would
shake Ficklin's head off, Ward Lamon grasped Lincoln's hand and
broke his grip.
After the speaking was over, Ficklin, who had warm personal
friendship with him, said: "Lincoln, you nearly shook all the
Democracy out of me to-day."
"AARON GOT HIS COMMISSION."
President Lincoln was censured for appointing one that had
zealously opposed his second term.
He replied: "Well, I suppose Judge E., having been disappointed
before, did behave pretty ugly, but that wouldn't make him any
less fit for the place; and I think I have Scriptural authority
for appointing him.
"You remember when the Lord was on Mount Sinai getting out a
commission for Aaron, that same Aaron was at the foot of the
mountain making a false god for the people to worship. Yet Aaron
got his commission, you know."
LINCOLN AND THE MINISTERS.
At the time of Lincoln's nomination, at Chicago, Mr. Newton
Bateman, Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of
Illinois, occupied a room adjoining and opening into the
Executive Chamber at Springfield. Frequently this door was open
during Mr. Lincoln's receptions, and throughout the seven months
or more of his occupation he saw him nearly every day. Often,
when Mr. Lincoln was tired, he closed the door against all
intruders, and called Mr. Bateman into his room for a quiet talk.
On one of these occasions, Mr. Lincoln took up a book containing
canvass of the city of Springfield, in which he lived, showing
the candidate for whom each citizen had declared it his intention
to vote in the approaching election. Mr.Lincoln's friends had,
doubtless at his own request, placed the result of the canvass in
his hands. This was towards the close of October, and only a few
days before election. Calling Mr. Bateman to a seat by his side,
having previously locked all the doors, he said:
"Let us look over this book; I wish particularly to see how the
ministers if Springfield are going to vote." The leaves were
turned, one by one, and as the names were examined Mr. Lincoln
frequently asked if this one and that one was not a minister,
or an elder, or a member of such and such a church, and sadly
expressed his surprise on receiving an affirmative answer.
In that manner he went through the book, and then he closed it,
and sat silently for some minutes regarding a memorandum in
pencil which lay before him. At length he turned to Mr. Bateman,
with a face full of sadness, and said:
"Here are twenty-three ministers of different denominations, and
all of them are against me but three, and here are a great many
prominent members of churches, a very large majority are against
me. Mr. Bateman, I am not a Christian--God knows I would be one
--but I have carefully read the Bible, and I do not so understand
this book," and he drew forth a pocket New Testament.
"These men well know," he continued, "that I am for freedom in
the Territories, freedom everywhere, as free as the Constitution
and the laws will permit, and that my opponents are for slavery.
They know this, and yet, with this book in their hands, in the
light of which human bondage cannot live a moment, they are going
to vote against me; I do not understand it at all."
Here Mr. Lincoln paused--paused for long minutes, his features
surcharged with emotion. Then he rose and walked up and down the
reception-room in the effort to retain or regain his
self-possession. Stopping at last, he said, with a trembling
voice and cheeks wet with tears:
"I know there is a God, and that He hates injustice and slavery.
I see the storm coming, and I know that His hand is in it. If He
has a place and work for me, and I think He has, I believe I am
ready. I am nothing, but Truth is everything. I know I am right,
because I know that liberty is right, for Christ teaches it, and
Christ is God. I have told them that a house divided against
itself cannot stand; and Christ and Reason say the same, and they
will find it so.
"Douglas doesn't care whether slavery is voted up or down, but
God cares, and humanity cares, and I care; and with God's help I
shall not fail. I may not see the end, but it will come, and I
shall be vindicated; and these men will find they have not read
their Bible right."
Much of this was uttered as if he were speaking to himself, and
with a sad, earnest solemnity of manner impossible to be
described. After a pause he resumed:
"Doesn't it seem strange that men can ignore the moral aspect of
this contest? No revelation could make it plainer to me that
slavery or the Government must be destroyed. The future would be
something awful, as I look at it, but for this rock on which I
stand" (alluding to the Testament which he still held in his
hand), "especially with the knowledge of how these ministers are
going to vote. It seems as if God had borne with this thing
(slavery) until the teachers of religion have come to defend it
from the Bible, and to claim for it a divine character and
sanction; and now the cup of iniquity is full, and the vials of
wrath will be poured out."
Everything he said was of a peculiarly deep, tender, and
religious tone, and all was tinged with a touching melancholy. He
repeatedly referred to his conviction that the day of wrath was
at hand, and that he was to be an actor in the terrible struggle
which would issue in the overthrow of slavery, although he might
not live to see the end.
After further reference to a belief in the Divine Providence and
the fact of God in history, the conversation turned upon prayer.
He freely stated his belief in the duty, privilege, and efficacy
of prayer, and intimated, in no unmistakable terms, that he had
sought in that way Divine guidance and favor. The effect of this
conversation upon the mind of Mr. Bateman, a Christian gentleman
whom Mr. Lincoln profoundly respected, was to convince him that
Mr. Lincoln had, in a quiet way, found a path to the Christian
standpoint--that he had found God, and rested on the eternal
truth of God. As the two men were about to separate, Mr. Bateman
"I have not supposed that you were accustomed to think so much
upon this class of subjects; certainly your friends generally are
ignorant of the sentiments you have expressed to me."
He replied quickly: "I know they are, but I think more on these
subjects than upon all others, and I have done so for years; and
I am willing you should know it."
HARDTACK BETTER THAN GENERALS.
Secretary of War Stanton told the President the following story,
which greatly amused the latter, as he was especially fond of a
joke at the expense of some high military or civil dignitary.
Stanton had little or no sense of humor.
When Secretary Stanton was making a trip up the Broad River in
North Carolina, in a tugboat, a Federal picket yelled out, "What
have you got on board of that tug?"
The severe and dignified answer was, "The Secretaty of War and
Instantly the picket roared back, "We've got Major-Generals
enough up here. Why don't you bring us up some hardtack?"
GOT THE PREACHER.
A story told by a Cabinet member tended to show how accurately
Lincoln could calculate political results in advance--a faculty
which remained with him all his life.
"A friend, who was a Democrat, had come to him early in the
canvass and told him he wanted to see him elected, but did not
like to vote against his party; still he would vote for him, if
the contest was to be so close that every vote was needed.
"A short time before the election Lincoln said to him: 'I have
got the preacher, and I don't want your vote.'"
BIG JOKE ON HALLECK.
When General Halleck was Commander-in-Chief of the Union forces,
with headquarters at Washington, President Lincoln unconsciously
played a big practical joke upon that dignified officer. The
President had spent the night at the Soldiers' Home, and the next
morning asked Captain Derickson, commanding the company of
Pennsylvania soldiers, which was the Presidential guard at the
White House and the Home--wherever the President happened to be
--to go to town with him.
Captain Derickson told the story in a most entertaining way:
"When we entered the city, Mr. Lincoln said he would call at
General Halleck's headquarters and get what news had been
received from the army during the night. I informed him that
General Cullum, chief aid to General Halleck, was raised in
Meadville, and that I knew him when I was a boy.
"He replied, 'Then we must see both the gentlemen.' When the
carriage stopped, he requested me to remain seated, and said he
would bring the gentlemen down to see me, the office being on the
second floor. In a short time the President came down, followed
by the other gentlemen. When he introduced them to me, General
Cullum recognized and seemed pleased to see me.
"In General Halleck I thought I discovered a kind of quizzical
look, as much as to say, 'Isn't this rather a big joke to ask the
Commander-in-Chief of the army down to the street to be
introduced to a country captain?'"
STORIES BETTER THAN DOCTORS.
A gentleman, visiting a hospital at Washington, heard an occupant
of one of the beds laughing and talking about the President, who
had been there a short time before and gladdened the wounded with
some of his stories. The soldier seemed in such good spirits that
the gentleman inquired:
"You must be very slightly wounded?"
"Yes," replied the brave fellow, "very slightly--I have only lost
one leg, and I'd be glad enough to lose the other, if I could
hear some more of 'Old Abe's' stories."
SHORT, BUT EXCITING.
William B. Wilson, employed in the telegraph office at the War
Department, ran over to the White House one day to summon Mr.
Lincoln. He described the trip back to the War Department in this
"Calling one of his two younger boys to join him, we then started
from the White House, between stately trees, along a gravel path
which led to the rear of the old War Department building. It was
a warm day, and Mr. Lincoln wore as part of his costume a faded
gray linen duster which hung loosely around his long gaunt frame;
his kindly eye was beaming with good nature, and his
ever-thoughtful brow was unruffled.
"We had barely reached the gravel walk before he stooped over,
picked up a round smooth pebble, and shooting it off his thumb,
challenged us to a game of 'followings,' which we accepted. Each
in turn tried to hit the outlying stone, which was being
constantly projected onward by the President. The game was short,
but exciting; the cheerfulness of childhood, the ambition of
young manhood, and the gravity of the statesman were all injected
"The game was not won until the steps of the War Department were
reached. Every inch of progression was toughly contested, and
when the President was declared victor, it was only by a hand
span. He appeared to be as much pleased as if he had won a
MR. BULL DIDN'T GET HIS COTTON.
Because of the blockade, by the Union fleets, of the Southern
cotton ports, England was deprived of her supply of cotton, and
scores of thousands of British operatives were thrown out of
employment by the closing of the cotton mills at Manchester and
other cities in Great Britain. England (John Bull) felt so badly
about this that the British wanted to go to war on account of it,
but when the United States eagle ruffled up its wings the English
thought over the business and concluded not to fight.
"Harper's Weekly" of May 16th, 1863, contained the cartoon we
reproduce, which shows John Bull as manifesting much anxiety
regarding the cotton he had bought from the Southern planters,
but which the latter could not deliver. Beneath the cartoon is
this bit of dialogue between John Bull and President Lincoln: MR.
BULL (confiding creature): "Hi want my cotton, bought at fi'pence
MR. LINCOLN: "Don't know anything about it, my dear sir. Your
friends, the rebels, are burning all the cotton they can find,
and I confiscate the rest. Good-morning, John!"
As President Lincoln has a big fifteen-inch gun at his side, the
black muzzle of which is pressed tightly against Mr. Bull's
waistcoat, the President, to all appearances, has the best of the
argument "by a long shot." Anyhow, Mr. Bull had nothing more to
say, but gave the cotton matter up as a bad piece of business,
and pocketed the loss.
STICK TO AMERICAN PRINCIPLES.
President Lincoln's first conclusion (that Mason and Slidell
should be released) was the real ground on which the
Administration submitted. "We must stick to American principles
concerning the rights of neutrals." It was to many, as Secretary
of the Treasury Chase declared it was to him, "gall and
wormwood." James Russell Lowell's verse expressed best the
We give the critters back, John,
Cos Abram thought 'twas right;
It warn't your bullyin' clack, John,
Provokin' us to fight.
The decision raised Mr. Lincoln immeasurably in the view of
thoughtful men, especially in England.
USED "RUDE TACT."
General John C. Fremont, with headquarters at St. Louis,
astonished the country by issuing a proclamation declaring, among
other things, that the property, real and personal, of all the
persons in the State of Missouri who should take up arms against
the United States, or who should be directly proved to have taken
an active part with its enemies in the field, would be
confiscated to public use and their slaves, if they had any,
The President was dismayed; he modified that part of the
proclamation referring to slaves, and finally replaced Fremont
with General Hunter.
Mrs. Fremont (daughter of Senator T. H. Benton), her husband's
real chief of staff, flew to Washington and sought Mr. Lincoln.
It was midnight, but the President gave her an audience. Without
waiting for an explanation, she violently charged him with
sending an enemy to Missouri to look into Fremont's case, and
threatening that if Fremont desired to he could set up a
government for himself.
"I had to exercise all the rude tact I have to avoid quarreling
with her," said Mr. Lincoln afterwards.
"ABE" ON A WOODPILE.
Lincoln's attempt to make a lawyer of himself under adverse and
unpromising circumstances--he was a bare-footed farm-hand
--excited comment. And it was not to be wondered. One old man,
was yet alive as late as 1901, had often employed Lincoln to do
farm work for him, and was surprised to find him one day sitting
barefoot on the summit of a woodpile and attentively reading a
"This being an unusual thing for farm-hands in that early day to
do," said the old man, when relating the story, "I asked him what
he was reading.
"'I'm not reading,' he answered. 'I'm studying.'
"'Studying what?' I inquired.
"'Law, sir,' was the emphatic response.
"It was really too much for me, as I looked at him sitting there
proud as Cicero. 'Great God Almighty!' I exclaimed, and passed
on." Lincoln merely laughed and resumed his "studies."
TAKING DOWN A DANDY.
In a political campaign, Lincoln once replied to Colonel Richard
Taylor, a self-conceited, dandified man, who wore a gold chain
and ruffled shirt. His party at that time was posing as the
hard-working bone and sinew of the land, while the Whigs were
stigmatized as aristocrats, ruffled-shirt gentry. Taylor making a
sweeping gesture, his overcoat became torn open, displaying his
finery. Lincoln in reply said, laying his hand on his jeans-clad
"Here is your aristocrat, one of your silk-stocking gentry, at
your service." Then, spreading out his hands, bronzed and gaunt
with toil: "Here is your rag-basin with lily-white hands. Yes, I
suppose, according to my friend Taylor, I am a bloated
WHEN OLD ABE GOT MAD.
Soon after hostilities broke out between the North and South,
Congress appointed a Committee on the Conduct of the War. This
committee beset Mr. Lincoln and urged all sorts of measures. Its
members were aggressive and patriotic, and one thing they
determined upon was that the Army of the Potomac should move. But
it was not until March that they became convinced that anything
would be done.
One day early in that month, Senator Chandler, of Michigan, a
member of the committee, met George W. Julian. He was in high
glee. "'Old' Abe is mad," said Julian, "and the War will now go
WANTED TO "BORROW" THE ARMY.
During one of the periods when things were at a standstill, the
Washington authorities, being unable to force General McClellan
to assume an aggressive attitude, President Lincoln went to the
general's headquarters to have a talk with him, but for some
reason he was unable to get an audience.
Mr. Lincoln returned to the White House much disturbed at his
failure to see the commander of the Union forces, and immediately
sent for two general officers, to have a consultation. On their
arrival, he told them he must have some one to talk to about the
situation, and as he had failed to see General McClellan, he
wished their views as to the possibility or probability of
commencing active operations with the Army of the Potomac.
"Something's got to be done," said the President, emphatically,
"and done right away, or the bottom will fall out of the whole
thing. Now, if McClellan doesn't want to use the army for awhile,
I'd like to borrow it from him and see if I can't do something or
other with it.
"If McClellan can't fish, he ought at least to be cutting bait at
a time like this."
YOUNG "SUCKER" VISITORS.
After Mr. Lincoln's nomination for the Presidency, the Executive
Chamber, a large, fine room in the State House at Springfield,
was set apart for him, where he met the public until after his
As illustrative of the nature of many of his calls, the following
incident was related by Mr. Holland, an eye-witness: "Mr. Lincoln
being in conversation with a gentleman one day, two raw,
plainly-dressed young 'Suckers' entered the room, and bashfully
lingered near the door. As soon as he observed them, and saw
their embarrassment, he rose and walked to them, saying: 'How do
you do, my good fellows? What can I do for you? Will you sit
down?' The spokesman of the pair, the shorter of the two,
declined to sit, and explained the object of the call thus: He
had had a talk about the relative height of Mr. Lincoln and his
companion, and had asserted his belief that they were of exactly
the same height. He had come in to verify his judgment. Mr.
Lincoln smiled, went and got his cane, and, placing the end of it
upon the wall, said" 'Here, young man, come under here.' "The
young man came under the cane as Mr. Lincoln held it, and when it
was perfectly adjusted to his height, Mr. Lincoln said:
"'Now, come out, and hold the cane.'
"This he did, while Mr. Lincoln stood under. Rubbing his head
back and forth to see that it worked easily under the
measurement, he stepped out, and declared to the sagacious fellow
who was curiously looking on, that he had guessed with remarkable
accuracy--that he and the young man were exactly the same height.
Then he shook hands with them and sent them on their way. Mr.
Lincoln would just as soon have thought of cutting off his right
hand as he would have thought of turning those boys away with the
impression that they had in any way insulted his dignity.
"AND YOU DON'T WEAR HOOPSKIRTS."
An Ohio Senator had an appointment with President Lincoln at six
o'clock, and as he entered the vestibule of the White House his
attention was attracted toward a poorly clad young woman, who was
violently sobbing. He asked her the cause of her distress. She
said she had been ordered away by the servants, after vainly
waiting many hours to see the President about her only brother,
who had been condemned to death. Her story was this:
She and her brother were foreigners, and orphans. They had been
in this country several years. Her brother enlisted in the army,
but, through bad influences, was induced to desert. He was
captured, tried and sentenced to be shot--the old story.
The poor girl had obtained the signatures of some persons who had
formerly known him, to a petition for a pardon, and alone had
come to Washington to lay the case before the President. Thronged
as the waiting-rooms always were, she had passed the long hours
of two days trying in vain to get an audience, and had at length
been ordered away.
The gentleman's feelings were touched. He said to her that he had
come to see the President, but did not know as he should succeed.
He told her, however, to follow him upstairs, and he would see
what could be done for her.
Just before reaching the door, Mr. Lincoln came out, and, meeting
his friend, said good-humoredly, "Are you not ahead of time?" The
gentleman showed him his watch, with the hand upon the hour of
"Well," returned Mr. Lincoln, "I have been so busy to-day that I
have not had time to get a lunch. Go in and sit down; I will be
The gentleman made the young woman accompany him into the office,
and when they were seated, said to her: "Now, my good girl, I
want you to muster all the courage you have in the world. When
the President comes back, he will sit down in that armchair. I
shall get up to speak to him, and as I do so you must force
yourself between us, and insist upon his examination of your
papers, telling him it is a case of life and death, and admits of
no delay." These instructions were carried out to the letter. Mr.
Lincoln was at first somewhat surprised at the apparent
forwardness of the young woman, but observing her distressed
appearance, he ceased conversation with his friend, and commenced
an examination of the document she had placed in his hands.
Glancing from it to the face of the petitioner, whose tears had
broken forth afresh, he studied its expression for a moment, and
then his eye fell upon her scanty but neat dress. Instantly his
face lighted up.
"My poor girl," said he, "you have come here with no Governor, or
Senator, or member of Congress to plead your cause. You seem
honest and truthful; and you don't wear hoopskirts--and I will be
whipped but I will pardon your brother." And he did.
LIEUTENANT TAD LINCOLN'S SENTINELS.
President Lincoln's favorite son, Tad, having been sportively
commissioned a lieutenant in the United States Army by Secretary
Stanton, procured several muskets and drilled the men-servants of
the house in the manual of arms without attracting the attention
of his father. And one night, to his consternation, he put them
all on duty, and relieved the regular sentries, who, seeing the
lad in full uniform, or perhaps appreciating the joke, gladly
went to their quarters. His brother objected; but Tad insisted
upon his rights as an officer. The President laughed but declined
to interfere, but when the lad had lost his little authority in
his boyish sleep, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of
the United States went down and personally discharged the
sentries his son had put on the post.
DOUGLAS HELD LINCOLN'S HAT.
When Mr. Lincoln delivered his first inaugural he was introduced
by his friend, United States Senator E. D. Baker, of Oregon. He
carried a cane and a little roll--the manuscript of his inaugural
address. There was moment's pause after the introduction, as he
vainly looked for a spot where he might place his high silk hat.
Stephen A. Douglas, the political antagonist of his whole public
life, the man who had pressed him hardest in the campaign of
1860, was seated just behind him. Douglas stepped forward
quickly, and took the hat which Mr. Lincoln held helplessly in
"If I can't be President," Douglas whispered smilingly to Mrs.
Brown, a cousin of Mrs. Lincoln and a member of the President's
party, "I at least can hold his hat."
THE DEAD MAN SPOKE.
Mr. Lincoln once said in a speech: "Fellow-citizens, my friend,
Mr. Douglas, made the startling announcement to-day that the
Whigs are all dead.
"If that be so, fellow-citizens, you will now experience the
novelty of hearing a speech from a dead man; and I suppose you
might properly say, in the language of the old hymn
"'Hark! from the tombs a doleful sound.'"
MILITARY SNAILS NOT SPEEDY.
President Lincoln--as he himself put it in conversation one day
with a friend--"fairly ached" for his generals to "get down to
business." These slow generals he termed "snails."
Grant, Sherman and Sheridan were his favorites, for they were
aggressive. They did not wait for the enemy to attack. Too many
of the others were "lingerers," as Lincoln called them. They were
magnificent in defense, and stubborn and brave, but their names
figured too much on the "waiting list."
The greatest fault Lincoln found with so many of the commanders
on the Union side was their unwillingness to move until
everything was exactly to their liking.
Lincoln could not understand why these leaders of Northern armies
OUTRAN THE JACK-RABBIT.
When the Union forces were routed in the first battle of Bull
Run, there were many civilians present, who had gone out from
Washington to witness the battle. Among the number were several
Congressmen. One of these was a tall, long-legged fellow, who
wore a long-tailed coat and a high plug hat. When the retreat
began, this Congressman was in the lead of the entire crowd
fleeing toward Washington. He outran all the rest, and was the
first man to arrive in the city. No person ever made such good
use of long legs as this Congressman. His immense stride carried
him yards at every bound. He went over ditches and gullies at a
single leap, and cleared a six-foot fence with a foot to spare.
As he went over the fence his plug hat blew off, but he did not
pause. With his long coat-tails flying in the wind, he continued
straight ahead for Washington.
Many of those behind him were scared almost to death, but the
flying Congressman was such a comical figure that they had to
laugh in spite of their terror.
Mr. Lincoln enjoyed the description of how this Congressman led
the race from Bull's Run, and laughed at it heartily.
"I never knew but one fellow who could run like that," he said,
"and he was a young man out in Illinois. He had been sparking a
girl, much against the wishes of her father. In fact, the old
man took such a dislike to him that he threatened to shoot him if
he ever ought him around his premises again.
"One evening the young man learned that the girl's father had
gone to the city, and he ventured out to the house. He was
sitting in the parlor, with his arm around Betsy's waist, when he
suddenly spied the old man coming around the corner of the house
with a shotgun. Leaping through a window into the garden, he
started down a path at the top of his speed. He was a long-legged
fellow, and could run like greased lightning. Just then a
jack-rabbit jumped up in the path in front of him. In about two
leaps he overtook the rabbit. Giving it a kick that sent it high
in the air, he exclaimed: 'Git out of the road, gosh dern you,
and let somebody run that knows how.'
"I reckon," said Mr. Lincoln, "that the long-legged Congressman,
when he saw the rebel muskets, must have felt a good deal like
that young fellow did when he saw the old man's shot-gun."
"FOOLING" THE PEOPLE.
Lincoln was a strong believer in the virtue of dealing honestly
with the people.
"If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow-citizens," he
said to a caller at the White House, "you can never regain their
respect and esteem.
"It is true that you may fool all the people some of the time;
you can even fool some of the people all the time; but you can't
fool all of the people all the time."
"ABE, YOU CAN'T PLAY THAT ON ME."
The night President-elect Lincoln arrived at Washington, one man
was observed watching Lincoln very closely as he walked out of
the railroad station. Standing a little to one side, the man
looked very sharply at Lincoln, and, as the latter passed, seized
hold of his hand, and said in a loud tone of voice, "Abe, you
can't play that on me!"
Ward Lamon and the others with Lincoln were instantly alarmed,
and would have struck the stranger had not Lincoln hastily said,
"Don't strike him! It is Washburne. Don't you know him?"
Mr. Seward had given Congressman Washburne a hint of the time the
train would arrive, and he had the right to be at the station
when the train steamed in, but his indiscreet manner of loudly
addressing the President-elect might have led to serious
consequences to the latter.
HIS "BROAD" STORIES.
Mrs. Rose Linder Wilkinson, who often accompanied her father,
Judge Linder, in the days when he rode circuit with Mr. Lincoln,
tells the following story:
"At night, as a rule, the lawyers spent awhile in the parlor, and
permitted the women who happened to be along to sit with them.
But after half an hour or so we would notice it was time for us
to leave them. I remember traveling the circuit one season when
the young wife of one of the lawyers was with him. The place was
so crowded that she and I were made to sleep together. When the
time came for banishing us from the parlor, we went up to our
room and sat there till bed-time, listening to the roars that
followed each ether swiftly while those lawyers down-stairs told
stoties and laughed till the rafters rang.
"In the morning Mr. Lincoln said to me: 'Rose, did we disturb
your sleep last night?' I answered, 'No, I had no sleep'--which
was not entirely true but the retort amused him. Then the young
lawyer's wife complained to him that we were not fairly used. We
came along with them, young women, and when they were having the
best time we were sent away like children to go to bed in the
"'But, Madame,' said Mr. Lincoln, 'you would not enjoy the
things we laugh at.' And then he entered into a discussion on
what have been termed his 'broad' stories. He deplored the fact
that men seemed to remember them longer and with less effort than
"My father said: 'But, Lincoln, I don't remember the "broad" part
of your stories so much as I do the moral that is in them,' and
it was a thing in which they were all agreed."
SORRY FOR THE HORSES.
When President Lincoln heard of the Confederate raid at Fairfax,
in which a brigadier-general and a number of valuable horses were
captured, he gravely observed:
"Well, I am sorry for the horses."
"Sorry for the horses, Mr. President!" exclaimed the Secretary of
War, raising his spectacles and throwing himself back in his
chair in astonishment.
"Yes," replied Mr., Lincoln, "I can make a brigadier-general in
five minutes, but it is not easy to replace a hundred and ten
MILD REBUKE TO A DOCTOR.
Dr. Jerome Walker, of Brooklyn, told how Mr. Lincoln once
administered to him a mild rebuke. The doctor was showing Mr.
Lincoln through the hospital at City Point.
"Finally, after visiting the wards occupied by our invalid and
convalescing soldiers," said Dr. Walker, "we came to three wards
occupied by sick and wounded Southern prisoners. With a feeling
of patriotic duty, I said: 'Mr. President, you won't want to go
in there; they are only rebels.'
"I will never forget how he stopped and gently laid his large
hand upon my shoulder and quietly answered, 'You mean
Confederates!' And I have meant Confederates ever since.
"There was nothing left for me to do after the President's remark
but to go with him through these three wards; and I could not see
but that he was just as kind, his hand-shakings just as hearty,
his interest just as real for the welfare of the men, as when he
was among our own soldiers."
COLD MOLASSES WAS SWIFTER.
"Old Pap," as the soldiers called General George H. Thomas, was
aggravatingly slow at a time when the President wanted him to
"get a move on"; in fact, the gallant "Rock of Chickamauga" was
evidently entered in a snail-race.
"Some of my generals are so slow," regretfully remarked Lincoln
one day, "that molasses in the coldest days of winter is a race
horse compared to them.
"They're brave enough, but somehow or other they get fastened in
a fence corner, and can't figure their way out."
LINCOLN CALLS MEDILL A COWARD.
Joseph Medill, for many years editor of the Chicago Tribune, not
long before his death, told the following story regarding the
"talking to" President Lincoln gave himself and two other Chicago
gentlemen who went to Washington to see about reducing Chicago's
quota of troops after the call for extra men was made by the
President in 1864:
"In 1864, when the call for extra troops came, Chicago revolted.
She had already sent 22,000 troops up to that time, and was
drained. When the call came there were no young men to go, and no
aliens except what were bought. The citizens held a mass meeting
and appointed three persons, of whom I was one, to go to
Washington and ask Stanton to give Cook County a new enrollment.
"On reaching Washington, we went to Stanton with our statement.
He refused entirely to give us the desired aid. Then we went to
Lincoln. 'I cannot do it,' he said, 'but I will go with you to
the War Department, and Stanton and I will hear both sides.'
"So we all went over to the War Department together. Stanton and
General Frye were there, and they, of course, contended that the
quota should not be changed. The argument went on for some time,
and was finally referred to Lincoln, who had been sitting
"I shall never forget how he suddenly lifted his head and turned
on us a black and frowning face.
"'Gentlemen,' he said, in a voice full of bitterness, 'after
Boston, Chicago has been the chief instrument in bringing war on
this country. The Northwest has opposed the South as New England
has opposed the South. It is you who are largely responsible for
making blood flow as it has.
"'You called for war until we had it. You called for
Emancipation, and I have given it to you. Whatever you have
asked, you have had. Now you come here begging to be let off from
the call for men, which I have made to carry out the war which
you demanded. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves. I have a
right to expect better things of you.
"'Go home and raise your six thousand extra men. And you,
Medill, you are acting like a coward. You and your Tribune have
had more influence than any paper in the Northwest in making this
war. You can influence great masses, and yet you cry to be spared
at a moment when your cause is suffering. Go home and send us
"I couldn't say anything. It was the first time I ever was
whipped, and I didn't have an answer. We all got up and went out,
and when the door closed one of my colleagues said:
"'Well, gentlemen, the old man is right. We ought to be ashamed
of ourselves. Let us never say anything about this, but go home
and raise the men.'
"And we did--six thousand men--making twenty-eight thousand in
the War from a city of one hundred and fifty-six thousand. But
there might have been crape on every door, almost, in Chicago,
for every family had lost a son or a husband. I lost two
brothers. It was hard for the mothers."
THEY DIDN'T BUILD IT.
In 1862 a delegation of New York millionaires waited upon
President Lincoln to request that he furnish a gunboat for the
protection of New York harbor.
Mr. Lincoln, after listening patiently, said: "Gentlemen, the
credit of the Government is at a very low ebb; greenbacks are not
worth more than forty or fifty cents on the dollar; it is
impossible for me, in the present condition of things, to furnish
you a gunboat, and, in this condition of things, if I was worth
half as much as you, gentlemen, are represented to be, and as
badly frightened as you seem to be, I would build a gunboat and
give it to the Government."
STANTON'S ABUSE OF LINCOLN.
President Lincoln's sense of duty to the country, together with
his keen judgment of men, often led to the appointment of persons
unfriendly to him. Some of these appointees were, as well, not
loyal to the National Government, for that matter.
Regarding Secretary of War Stanton's attitude toward Lincoln,
Colonel A. K. McClure, who was very close to President Lincoln,
"After Stanton's retirement from the Buchanan Cabinet when
Lincoln was inaugurated, he maintained the closest confidential
relations with Buchanan, and wrote him many letters expressing
the utmost contempt for Lincoln, the Cabinet, the Republican
Congress, and the general policy of the Administration.
"These letters speak freely of the 'painful imbecility of
Lincoln,' of the 'venality and corruption' which ran riot in the
government, and expressed the belief that no better condition of
things was possible 'until Jeff Davis turns out the whole
"He was firmly impressed for some weeks after the battle of Bull
Run that the government was utterly overthrown, as he repeatedly
refers to the coming of Davis into the National Capital.
"In one letter he says that 'in less than thirty days Davis will
be in possession of Washington;' and it is an open secret that
Stanton advised the revolutionary overthrow of the Lincoln
government, to be replaced by General McClellan as military
dictator. These letters, bad as they are, are not the worst
letters written by Stanton to Buchanan. Some of them were so
violent in their expressions against Lincoln and the
administration that they have been charitably withheld from the
public, but they remain in the possession of the surviving
relatives of President Buchanan.
"Of course, Lincoln had no knowledge of the bitterness exhibited
by Stanton to himself personally and to his administration, but
if he had known the worst that Stanton ever said or wrote about
him, I doubt not that he would have called him to the Cabinet in
January, 1862. The disasters the army suffered made Lincoln
forgetful of everything but the single duty of suppressing the
"Lincoln was not long in discovering that in his new Secretary of
War he had an invaluable but most troublesome Cabinet officer,
but he saw only the great and good offices that Stanton was
performing for the imperilled Republic.
"Confidence was restored in financial circles by the appointment
of Stanton, and his name as War Minister did more to strengthen
the faith of the people in the government credit than would have
been probable from the appointment of any other man of that day.
"He was a terror to all the hordes of jobbers and speculators and
camp-followers whose appetites had been whetted by a great war,
and he enforced the strictest discipline throughout our armies.
"He was seldom capable of being civil to any officer away from
the army on leave of absence unless he had been summoned by the
government for conference or special duty, and he issued the
strictest orders from time to time to drive the throng of
military idlers from the capital and keep them at their posts. He
was stern to savagery in his enforcement of military law. The
wearied sentinel who slept at his post found no mercy in the
heart of Stanton, and many times did Lincoln's humanity overrule
his fiery minister.
"Any neglect of military duty was sure of the swiftest
punishment, and seldom did he make even just allowance for
inevitable military disaster. He had profound, unfaltering faith
in the Union cause, and, above all, he had unfaltering faith in
"He believed that he was in all things except in name
Commander-in-Chief of the armies and the navy of the nation, and
it was with unconcealed reluctance that he at times deferred to
the authority of the President."
THE NEGRO AND THE CROCODILE.
In one of his political speeches, Judge Douglas made use of the
following figure of speech: "As between the crocodile and the
negro, I take the side of the negro; but as between the negro and
the white man--I would go for the white man every time."
Lincoln, at home, noted that; and afterwards, when he had
occasion to refer to the remark, he said: "I believe that this is
a sort of proposition in proportion, which may be stated thus:
'As the negro is to the white man, so is the crocodile to the
negro; and as the negro may rightfully treat the crocodile as a
beast or reptile, so the white man may rightfully treat the negro
as a beast or reptile.'"
LINCOLN WAS READY TO FIGHT.
On one occasion, Colonel Baker was speaking in a court-house,
which had been a storehouse, and, on making some remarks that
were offensive to certain political rowdies in the crowd, they
cried: "Take him off the stand!"
Immediate confusion followed, and there was an attempt to carry
the demand into execution. Directly over the speaker's head was
an old skylight, at which it appeared Mr. Lincoln had been
listening to the speech. In an instant, Mr. Lincoln's feet came
through the skylight, followed by his tall and sinewy frame, and
he was standing by Colonel Baker's side. He raised his hand and
the assembly subsided into silence. "Gentlemen," said Mr.
Lincoln, "let us not disgrace the age and country in which we
live. This is a land where freedom of speech is guaranteed. Mr.
Baker has a right to speak, and ought to be permitted to do so. I
am here to protect him, and no man shall take him from this stand
if I can prevent it." The suddenness of his appearance, his
perfect calmness and fairness, and the knowledge that he would do
what he had promised to do, quieted all disturbance, and the
speaker concluded his remarks without difficulty.
IT WAS UP-HILL WORK.
Two young men called on the President from Springfield, Illinois.
Lincoln shook hands with them, and asked about the crops, the
Finally one of the young men said, "Mother is not well, and she
sent me up to inquire of you how the suit about the Wells
property is getting on."
Lincoln, in the same even tone with which he had asked the
question, said: "Give my best wishes and respects to your mother,
and tell her I have so many outside matters to attend to now that
I have put that case, and others, in the hands of a lawyer friend
of mine, and if you will call on him (giving name and address) he
will give you the information you want."
After they had gone, a friend, who was present, said: "Mr.
Lincoln, you did not seem to know the young men?"
He laughed and replied: "No, I had never seen them before, and I
had to beat around the bush until I found who they were. It was
up-hill work, but I topped it at last."
LEE'S SLIM ANIMAL.
President Lincoln wrote to General Hooker on June 5, 1863,
warning Hooker not to run any risk of being entangled on the
Rappahannock "like an ox jumped half over a fence and liable to
be torn by dogs, front and rear, without a fair chance to give
one way or kick the other." On the l0th he warned Hooker not to
go south of the Rappahannock upon Lee's moving north of it. "I
think Lee's army and not Richmond is your true objective power.
If he comes toward the upper Potomac, follow on his flank, and on
the inside track, shortening your lines while he lengthens his.
Fight him, too, when opportunity offers. If he stay where he is,
fret him, and fret him."
On the 14th again he says: "So far as we can make out here, the
enemy have Milroy surrounded at Winchester, and Tyler at
Martinsburg. If they could hold out for a few days, could you
help them? If the head of Lee's army is at Martinsburg, and the
tail of it on the flank road between Fredericksburg and
Chancellorsville, the animal must be very slim somewhere; could
you not break him?"
"MRS. NORTH AND HER ATTORNEY."
In the issue of London "Punch" of September 24th, 1864, President
Lincoln is pictured as sitting at a table in his law office,
while in a chair to his tight is a client, Mrs. North. The latter
is a fine client for any attorney to have on his list, being
wealthy and liberal, but as the lady is giving her counsel, who
has represented her in a legal way for four years, notice that
she proposes to put her legal business in the hands of another
lawyer, the dejected look upon the face of Attorney Lincoln is
easily accounted for. "Punch" puts these words in the lady's
MRS. NORTH: "You see, Mr. Lincoln, we have failed utterly in our
course of action; I want peace, and so, if you cannot effect an
amicable arrangement, I must put the case into other hands."
In this cartoon, "Punch" merely reflected the idea, or sentiment,
current in England in 1864, that the North was much dissatisfied
with the War policy of President Lincoln; and would surely elect
General McClellan to succeed the Westerner in the White House. At
the election McClellan carried but one Northern State--New
Jersey, where he was born--President Lincoln sweeping the country
like a prairie fire.
"Punch" had evidently been deceived by some bold, bad man, who
wanted a little spending money, and sold the prediction to the
funny journal with a certificate of character attached, written
by--possibly--a member of the Horse Marines. "Punch," was very
much disgusted to find that its credulity and faith in mankind
had been so imposed upon, especially when the election returns
showed that "the-War-is-a-failure" candidate ran so slowly that
Lincoln passed him as easily as though the Democratic nominee was
tied to a post.
SATISFACTION TO THE SOUL.
In the far-away days when "Abe" went to school in Indiana, they
had exercises, exhibitions and speaking-meetings in the
schoolhouse or the church, and "Abe" was the "star." His father
was a Democrat, and at that time "Abe" agreed with his parent. He
would frequently make political and other speeches to the boys
and explain tangled questions.
Booneville was the county seat of Warrick county, situated about
fifteen miles from Gentryville. Thither "Abe" walked to be
present at the sittings of the court, and listened attentively to
the trials and the speeches of the lawyers.
One of the trials was that of a murderer. He was defended by Mr.
John Breckinridge, and at the conclusion of his speech "Abe" was
so enthusiastic that he ventured to compliment him. Breckinridge
looked at the shabby boy, thanked him, and passed on his way.
Many years afterwards, in 1862, Breckinridge called on the
President, and he was told, "It was the best speech that I, up to
that time, had ever heard. If I could, as I then thought, make as
good a speech as that, my soul would be satisfied."
WITHDREW THE COLT.
Mr. Alcott, of Elgin, Ill., tells of seeing Mr. Lincoln coming
away from church unusually early one Sunday morning. "The sermon
could not have been more than half way through," says Mr. Alcott.
"'Tad' was slung across his left arm like a pair of saddlebags,
and Mr. Lincoln was striding along with long, deliberate steps
toward his home. On one of the street corners he encountered a
group of his fellow-townsmen. Mr. Lincoln anticipated the
question which was about to be put by the group, and, taking his
figure of speech from practices with which they were only too
familiar, said: 'Gentlemen, I entered this colt, but he kicked
around so I had to withdraw him."'
"TAD" GOT HIS DOLLAR.
No matter who was with the President, or how intently absorbed,
his little son "Tad" was always welcome. He almost always
accompanied his father.
Once, on the way to Fortress Monroe, he became very troublesome.
The President was much engaged in conversation with the party who
accompanied him, and he at length said:
"'Tad,' if you will be a good boy, and not disturb me any more
until we get to Fortress Monroe, I will give you a dollar."
The hope of reward was effectual for awhile in securing silence,
but, boylike, "Tad" soon forgot his promise, and was as noisy as
ever. Upon reaching their destination, however, he said, very
promptly: "Father, I want my dollar." Mr. Lincoln looked at him
half-reproachfully for an instant, and then, taking from his
pocketbook a dollar note, he said "Well, my son, at any rate, I
will keep my part of the bargain."
TELLS AN EDITOR ABOUT NASBY.
Henry J. Raymond, the famous New York editor, thus tells of Mr.
Lincoln's fondness for the Nasby letters:
"It has been well said by a profound critic of Shakespeare, and
it occurs to me as very appropriate in this connection, that the
spirit which held the woe of Lear and the tragedy of "Hamlet"
would have broken had it not also had the humor of the "Merry
Wives of Windsor" and the merriment of the "Midsummer Night's
"This is as true of Mr. Lincoln as it was of Shakespeare. The
capacity to tell and enjoy a good anecdote no doubt prolonged his
"The Saturday evening before he left Washington to go to the
front, just previous to the capture of Richmond, I was with him
from seven o'clock till nearly twelve. It had been one of his
most trying days. The pressure of office-seekers was greater at
this juncture than I ever knew it to be, and he was almost worn
"Among the callers that evening was a party composed of two
Senators, a Representative, an ex-Lieutenant-Governor of a
Western State, and several private citizens. They had business of
great importance, involving the necessity of the President's
examination of voluminous documents. Pushing everything aside,
he said to one of the party:
"'Have you seen the Nasby papers?'
"'No, I have not,' was the reply; 'who is Nasby?'
"'There is a chap out in Ohio,' returned the President, 'who has
been writing a series of letters in the newspapers over the
signature of Petroleum V. Nasby. Some one sent me a pamphlet
collection of them the other day. I am going to write to
"Petroleum" to come down here, and I intend to tell him if he
will communicate his talent to me, I will swap places with him!'
"Thereupon he arose, went to a drawer in his desk, and, taking
out the 'Letters,' sat down and read one to the company, finding
in their enjoyment of it the temporary excitement and relief
which another man would have found in a glass of wine. The
instant he had ceased, the book was thrown aside, his countenance
relapsed into its habitual serious expression, and the business
was entered upon with the utmost earnestness."
LONG AND SHORT OF IT.
On the occasion of a serenade, the President was called for by
the crowd assembled. He appeared at a window with his wife (who
was somewhat below the medium height), and made the following
"Here I am, and here is Mrs. Lincoln. That's the long and the
short of it."
MORE PEGS THAN HOLES.
Some gentlemen were once finding fault with the President because
certain generals were not given commands.
"The fact is," replied President Lincoln, "I have got more pegs
than I have holes to put them in."
"WEBSTER COULDN'T HAVE DONE MORE."
Lincoln "got even" with the Illinois Central Railroad Company, in
1855, in a most substantial way, at the same time secured sweet
revenge for an insult, unwarranted in every way, put upon him by
one of the officials of that corporation.
Lincoln and Herndon defended the Illinois Central Railroad in an
action brought by McLean County, Illinois, in August, 1853, to
recover taxes alleged to be due the county from the road. The
Legislature had granted the road immunity from taxation, and this
was a case intended to test the constitutionality of the law. The
road sent a retainer fee of $250.
In the lower court the case was decided in favor of the railroad.
An appeal to the Supreme Court followed, was argued twice, and
finally decided in favor of the road. This last decision was
rendered some time in 1855. Lincoln then went to Chicago and
presented the bill for legal services. Lincoln and Herndon only
asked for $2,000 more.
The official to whom he was referred, after looking at the bill,
expressed great surprise.
"Why, sir," he exclaimed, "this is as much as Daniel Webster
himself would have charged. We cannot allow such a claim."
"Why not?" asked Lincoln.
"We could have hired first-class lawyers at that figure," was the
"We won the case, didn't we?" queried Lincoln.
"Certainly," replied the official.
"Daniel Webster, then," retorted Lincoln in no amiable tone,
"couldn't have done more," and "Abe" walked out of the official's
Lincoln withdrew the bill, and started for home. On the way he
stopped at Bloomington, where he met Grant Goodrich, Archibald
Williams, Norman B. Judd, O. H. Browning, and other attorneys,
who, on learning of his modest charge for the valuable services
rendered the railroad, induced him to increase the demand to
$5,000, and to bring suit for that sum.
This was done at once. On the trial six lawyers certified that
the bill was reasonable, and judgment for that sum went by
default; the judgment was promptly paid, and, of course, his
partner, Herndon, got "your half Billy," without delay.
LINCOLN MET CLAY.
When a member of Congress, Lincoln went to Lexington, Kentucky,
to hear Henry Clay speak. The Westerner, a Kentuckian by birth,
and destined to reach the great goal Clay had so often sought,
wanted to meet the "Millboy of the Slashes." The address was a
tame affair, as was the personal greeting when Lincoln made
himself known. Clay was courteous, but cold. He may never have
heard of the man, then in his presence, who was to secure,
without solicitation, the prize which he for many years had
unsuccessfully sought. Lincoln was disenchanted; his ideal was
shattered. One reason why Clay had not realized his ambition had
Clay was cool and dignified; Lincoln was cordial and hearty.
Clay's hand was bloodless and frosty, with no vigorous grip in
it; Lincoln's was warm, and its clasp was expressive of
kindliness and sympathy.
REMINDED "ABE" OF A LITTLE JOKE.
President Lincoln had a little joke at the expense of General
George B. McClellan, the Democratic candidate for the Presidency
in opposition to the Westerner in 1864. McClellan was nominated
by the Democratic National Convention, which assembled at
Chicago, but after he had been named, and also during the
campaign, the military candidate was characteristically slow in
coming to the front.
President Lincoln had his eye upon every move made by General
McClellan during the campaign, and when reference was made one
day, in his presence, to the deliberation and caution of the New
Jerseyite, Mr. Lincoln remarked, with a twinkle in his eye,
"Perhaps he is intrenching."
The cartoon we reproduce appeared in "Harper's Weekly," September
17th, 1864, and shows General McClellan, with his little spade in
hand, being subjected to the scrutiny of the President--the man
who gave McClellan, when the latter was Commander-in-Chief of the
Union forces, every opportunity in the world to distinguish
himself. There is a smile on the face of "Honest Abe," which
shows conclusively that he does not regard his political opponent
as likely to prove formidable in any way. President Lincoln
"sized up" McClellan in 1861-2, and knew, to a fraction, how much
of a man he was, what he could do, and how he went about doing
it. McClellan was no politician, while the President was the
shrewdest of political diplomats.
HIS DIGNITY SAVED HIM.
When Washington had become an armed camp, and full of soldiers,
President Lincoln and his Cabinet officers drove daily to one or
another of these camps. Very often his outing for the day was
attending some ceremony incident to camp life: a military
funeral, a camp wedding, a review, a flag-raising. He did not
often make speeches. "I have made a great many poor speeches," he
said one day, in excusing himself, "and I now feel relieved that
my dignity does not permit me to be a public speaker."
THE MAN HE WAS LOOKNG FOR
Judge Kelly, of Pennsylvania, who was one of the committee to
advise Lincoln of his nomination, and who was himself a great
many feet high, had been eyeing Lincoln's lofty form with a
mixture of admiration and possibly jealousy.
This had not escaped Lincoln, and as he shook hands with the
judge he inquired, "What is your height?"
"Six feet three. What is yours, Mr. Lincoln?"
"Six feet four."
"Then," said the judge, "Pennsylvania bows to Illinois. My dear
man, for years my heart has been aching for a President that I
could look up to, and I've at last found him."
HIS CABINET CHANCES POOR.
Mr. Jeriah Bonham, in describing a visit he paid Lincoln at his
room in the State House at Springfield, where he found him quite
alone, except that two of his children, one of whom was "Tad,"
were with him.
"The door was open.
"We walked in and were at once recognized and seated--the two
still continuing their play about the room. "Tad" was spinning
his top; and Lincoln, as we entered, had just finished adjusting
the string for him so as to give the top the greatest degree of
force. He remarked that he was having a little fun with the
At another time, at Lincoln's residence, "Tad" came into the
room, and, putting his hand to his mouth, and his mouth to his
father's ear, said, in a boy's whisper: "Ma says come to supper."
All heard the announcement; and Lincoln, perceiving this, said:
"You have heard, gentlemen, the announcement concerning the
interesting state of things in the dining-room. It will never do
for me, if elected, to make this young man a member of my
Cabinet, for it is plain he cannot be trusted with secrets of
THE GENERAL WAS "HEADED IN"
A Union general, operating with his command in West Virginia,
allowed himself and his men to be trapped, and it was feared his
force would be captured by the Confederates. The President heard
the report read by the operator, as it came over the wire, and
"Once there was a man out West who was 'heading' a barrel, as
they used to call it. He worked like a good fellow in driving
down the hoops, but just about the time he thought he had the job
done, the head would fall in. Then he had to do the work all over
"All at once a bright idea entered his brain, and he wondered how
it was he hadn't figured it out before. His boy, a bright, smart
lad, was standing by,very much interested in the business, and,
lifting the young one up, he put him inside the barrel, telling
him to hold the head in its proper place, while he pounded down
the hoops on the sides. This worked like a charm, and he soon had
the 'heading' done.
"Then he realized that his boy was inside the barrel, and how to
get him out he couldn't for his life figure out. General Blank is
now inside the barrel, 'headed in,' and the job now is to get him
Government Printer Defrees, when one of the President's messages
was being printed, was a good deal disturbed by the use of the
term "sugar-coated," and finally went to Mr. Lincoln about it.
Their relations to each other being of the most intimate
character, he told the President frankly that he ought to
remember that a message to Congress was a different affair from a
speech at a mass meeting in Illinois; that the messages became a
part of history, and should be written accordingly.
"What is the matter now?" inquired the President.
"Why," said Defrees, "you have used an undignified expression in
the message"; and, reading the paragraph aloud, he added, "I
would alter the structure of that, if I were you."
"Defrees," replied the President, "that word expresses exactly my
idea, and I am not going to change it. The time will never come
in this country when people won't know exactly what
COULD MAKE "RABBIT-TRACKS."
When a grocery clerk at New Salem, the annual election came
around. A Mr. Graham was clerk, but his assistant was absent, and
it was necessary to find a man to fill his place. Lincoln, a
"tall young man," had already concentrated on himself the
attention of the people of the town, and Graham easily discovered
him. Asking him if he could write, "Abe" modestly replied, "I can
make a few rabbit-tracks." His rabbit-tracks proving to be
legible and even graceful, he was employed.
The voters soon discovered that the new assistant clerk was
honest and fair, and performed his duties satisfactorily, and
when, the work done, he began to "entertain them with stories,"
they found that their town had made a valuable personal and
LINCOLN PROTECTED CURRENCY ISSUES.
Marshal Ward Lamon was in President Lincoln's office in the White
House one day, and casually asked the President if he knew how
the currency of the country was made. Greenbacks were then under
full headway of circulation, these bits of paper being the
representatives of United State money.
"Our currency," was the President's answer, "is made, as the
lawyers would put it, in their legal way, in the following
manner, to-wit: The official engraver strikes off the sheets,
passes them over to the Register of the Currency, who, after
placing his earmarks upon them, signs the same; the Register
turns them over to old Father Spinner, who proceeds to embellish
them with his wonderful signature at the bottom; Father Spinner
sends them to Secretary of the Treasury Chase, and he, as a final
act in the matter, issues them to the public as money--and may
the good Lord help any fellow that doesn't take all he can
honestly get of them!"
Taking from his pocket a $5 greenback, with a twinkle in his eye,
the President then said: "Look at Spinner's signature! Was there
ever anything like it on earth? Yet it is unmistakable; no one
will ever be able to counterfeit it!"
Lamon then goes on to say:
"'But,' I said, 'you certainly don't suppose that Spinner
actually wrote his name on that bill, do you?'
"'Certainly, I do; why not?' queried Mr. Lincoln.
"I then asked, 'How much of this currency have we afloat?'
"He remained thoughtful for a moment, and then stated the amount.
"I continued: 'How many times do you think a man can write a
signature like Spinner's in the course of twenty-four hours?'
"The beam of hilarity left the countenance of the President at
once. He put the greenback into his vest pocket, and walked the
floor; after awhile he stopped, heaved a long breath and said:
'This thing frightens me!' He then rang for a messenger and told
him to ask the Secretary of the Treasury to please come over to
"Mr. Chase soon put in an appearance; President Lincoln stated
the cause of his alarm, and asked Mr. Chase to explain in detail
the operations, methods, system of checks, etc., in his office,
and a lengthy discussion followed, President Lincoln contending
there were not sufficient safeguards afforded in any degree in
the money-making department, and Secretary Chase insisting that
every protection was afforded he could devise."
Afterward the President called the attention of Congress to this
important question, and devices were adopted whereby a check was
put upon the issue of greenbacks that no spurious ones ever came
out of the Treasury Department, at least. Counterfeiters were
busy, though, but this was not the fault of the Treasury.
LINCOLN'S APOLOGY TO GRANT.
"General Grant is a copious worker and fighter," President
Lincoln wrote to General Burnside in July, 1863, "but a meagre
writer or telegrapher."
Grant never wrote a report until the battle was over.
President Lincoln wrote a letter to General Grant on July 13th,
1863, which indicated the strength of the hold the successful
fighter had upon the man in the White House.
It ran as follows:
"I do not remember that you and I ever met personally.
"I write this now as a grateful acknowledgment for the almost
inestimable service you have done the country.
"I write to say a word further.
"When you first reached the vicinity of Vicksburg, I thought you
should do what you finally did--march the troops across the neck,
run the batteries with the transports, and thus go below; and I
never had any faith, except a general hope, that you knew better
than I, that the Yazoo Pass expedition, and the like, could
"When you got below and took Port Gibson, Grand Gulf and
vicinity, I thought you should go down the river and join General
Banks; and when you turned northward, east of Big Black, I feared
it was a mistake.
"I now wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were
right and I was wrong."
LINCOLN SAID "BY JING."
Lincoln never used profanity, except when he quoted it to
illustrate a point in a story. His favorite expressions when he
spoke with emphasis were "By dear!" and "By jing!"
Just preceding the Civil War he sent Ward Lamon on a ticklish
mission to South Carolina.
When the proposed trip was mentioned to Secretary Seward, he
opposed it, saying, "Mr. President, I fear you are sending Lamon
to his grave. I am afraid they will kill him in Charleston, where
the people are excited and desperate. We can't spare Lamon, and
we shall feel badly if anything happens to him."
Mr. Lincoln said in reply: "I have known Lamon to be in many a
close place, and he has never, been in one that he didn't get out
of, somehow. By jing! I'll risk him. Go ahead, Lamon, and God
bless you! If you can't bring back any good news, bring a
palmetto." Lamon brought back a palmetto branch, but no promise
IT TICKLED THE LITTLE WOMAN.
Lincoln had been in the telegraph office at Springfield during
the casting of the first and second ballots in the Republican
National Convention at Chicago, and then left and went over to
the office of the State Journal, where he was sitting conversing
with friends while the third ballot was being taken.
In a few moments came across the wires the announcement of the
result. The superintendent of the telegraph company wrote on a
scrap of paper: "Mr. Lincoln, you are nominated on the third
ballot," and a boy ran with the message to Lincoln.
He looked at it in silence, amid the shouts of those around him;
then rising and putting it in his pocket, he said quietly:
"There's a little woman down at our house would like to hear
this; I'll go down and tell her."
"SHALL ALL FALL TOGETHER."
After Lincoln had finished that celebrated speech in "Egypt" (as
a section of Southern Illinois was formerly designated), in the
course of which he seized Congressman Ficklin by the coat collar
and shook him fiercely, he apologized. In return, Ficklin said
Lincoln had "nearly shaken the Democracy out of him." To this
"That reminds me of what Paul said to Agrippa, which, in language
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