The Project Gutenberg eBook of Best Lincoln stories, tersely told

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Title: Best Lincoln stories, tersely told

Author: J. E. Gallaher

Release date: January 24, 2017 [eBook #54047]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by MFR and the Online Distributed Proofreading
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Taken at Springfield in 1861. One of the very best.



Lincoln Stories


James E. Gallaher & Co.
36, 184 Dearborn St.


Copyright, 1898,
James E. Gallaher.





How American history would dwindle if that name were taken out of it! Washington was great. Grant was great. Lee was great. Many others have been and are great in all the walks of life. But Lincoln, who came out of the lowly heart of the people, will come back nearer to that heart than any other man probably that the nation has known. There have been men of war and there have been men of peace, but there has been no such man of peace in war as Lincoln.

Why is it we never tire of thinking of Mr. Lincoln personally, nor of speaking of him and his deeds? Is it not because “he was indeed one of the most unique figures in history, and one of the most remarkable surprises of the age?” What has he been called by those who knew him best? “The greatest of patriots, the wisest of rulers, the ablest of men.”

What led to his greatness and caused him to hold such an extraordinary sway over the people during the most tumultuous of times, when seven states had seceded and the rebellion was well under way at his inauguration, and when a bloody and fiercely contested war was[viii] fought during his administration? I will let one more competent than myself answer. Bishop Fowler, of the First M. E. Church of New York, said:

“What, then, were the elements of Lincoln’s greatness? To begin with, ‘he was not made out of any fool mud,’ and then he thoroughly understood himself and knew how to handle his resources. His moral sense was the first important trait of his character, his reason the second, and the third was his wonderful ‘common-sense,’ the most uncommon thing found even among the great.

“These are the three fixed points on which his character hung. Without the first he had been a villain. Without the second, a fool. Without the third, a dreamer. With them all he made up himself—Abraham Lincoln.”

It is wonderful how many stories President Lincoln told, and still more wonderful how many stories are told of him. The late Senator Voorhees, of Indiana, said that Lincoln had more stories than any other man he had ever met. He had a story for every occasion, and he illustrated everything by anecdote. Some of the best stories current to-day originated with Lincoln and hundreds of his best stories have never been published. Senator Voorhees had preserved a number which he expected to use in lectures which he was preparing at the time he died. He had hoped to live long enough after his retirement from public life to write a book on his personal recollections[ix] of the martyred President, among which would have been included many stories.

The late David Davis, of Illinois, before whose court Lincoln practiced so often, once said that there were but three men in the world who thoroughly understood Abraham Lincoln—himself, Leonard Swett, of Chicago, and Daniel W. Voorhees. All these three men are dead.

In gathering material for this work the editor has exercised due care in accepting only such stories as bore the impress of truth. It is his hope that this little volume will be eagerly welcomed in every home which venerates the name of Abraham Lincoln, and that it will be an inspiration to every boy of the land who, in looking to Lincoln for an ideal, should ever remember that

Honor and shame from no condition rise;
Act well your part; there all the honor lies.



Preface 7
Lincoln’s Great Strength as a Boy 11
Was Proud of His Strength 11
Lincoln a Powerful Wrestler 12
Lincoln Split 400 Rails for a Yard of Jeans 12
Lincoln as a Verse Writer 14
Lincoln’s Quick Wit in Helping a Girl to Spell a Word 15
Lincoln as a Notion Peddler 15
Lincoln Saved From Drowning 16
Lincoln’s Youthful Eloquence 18
One of Lincoln’s Songs 19
Lincoln’s First Political Speech 20
How Lincoln Became Known as “Honest Abe” 21
Lincoln Was an “Obliging” Man 22
How Lincoln Paid a Large Debt 23
His First Sight of Slavery 23
Lincoln and Jeff Davis in the Black Hawk War 24
Lincoln’s Glowing Tribute to His Mother 25
What Lincoln’s Step-Mother Said of Him 26
Lincoln’s First Love 26
The Duel Lincoln Didn’t Fight 28
Lincoln as a Dancer 29
Lincoln’s Courtship and Marriage 29
Lincoln’s Personal Appearance 31
Lincoln’s Mother 32
Lincoln’s Melancholia 34
Lincoln’s Height 36
How Lincoln Became a Lawyer 36
Lincoln as a Lawyer 37
Lincoln’s Conscientiousness in Taking Cases 38
The Jury Understood 39
Lincoln’s Honesty with a Lady Client 39
Lincoln Wins a Celebrated Case 40
Lincoln’s “Selfishness” 41
Lincoln Removes a License on Theatres 42
How Lincoln Got the Worst of a Horse Trade 43
Lincoln Helped Him to Win 44
Lincoln Settles a Quarrel Without Going to Law 46
A Lincoln Story About Little Dan Webster’s Soiled Hands 47
Lincoln’s Long Limbs Drive a Man Out of His Berth 48
Lincoln’s Joke on Douglas 49
Lincoln Shrewdly Traps Douglas 50
Lincoln’s Fairness in Debate 52
Lincoln Asked His Friend’s Help for the United States Senate 54
Making Lincoln Presentable 55
Evidence of Lincoln’s Religious Belief 56
Lincoln a Temperance Man 57
Lincoln’s Famous Gettysburg Address 57
The Gettysburg Address 59
Lincoln as a Ruler 60
Lincoln’s Real Object in Conducting the War 61
Lincoln Asked for Some of Grant’s Whisky 62
Lincoln Believed Himself Ugly 62
Lincoln’s Kindness to a Disabled Soldier 63
A Sample of Lincoln’s Statesmanship 64
Two Good Stories 65
Lincoln Raises a Warning Voice Against the Concentration of Great Wealth 65
Lincoln and the Dying Soldier Boy 66
The Dandy, the Bugs and the President 67
Lincoln Upheld the Hands of Gen. Grant 68
Why Lincoln Told Stories 69
Lincoln Rewards a Man For Kindness Thirty Years After the Occurrence 70
Lincoln a Merciful Man 71
Lincoln’s Humorous Advice to a Distinguished Bachelor 72
How Lincoln Answered a Delicate Question 73
Lincoln Illustrates a Case Humorously 74
Why Lincoln Mistook a Driver to be an Episcopalian 74
A Clergyman Who Talked But Little 75
How Lincoln Received a Jackknife as a Present 75
The Best Car For His Corpse 76
His Title Did Not Help Any 77
One of Lincoln’s Autographs 77
Lincoln’s Substitute 77
Lincoln’s Estimate of the Financial Standing of a Neighbor 78
Lincoln’s Query Puzzled the Man 78
Lincoln’s Inauguration 79
John Sherman’s First Meeting with Lincoln 80
Lincoln and the Sentinel 81
Origin of “With Malice Toward None,” Etc. 82
His Good Memory of Names 82
Lincoln’s Grief Over the Defeat of the Union Army 83
Three Stories of Lincoln by Senator Palmer 84
His Famous Second Inaugural Address 87
Lincoln Said Even a Rebel Could be Saved 88
Washington and Lincoln Compared 89
Lincoln Remembered Him 91
Why Lincoln Pardoned Them 92
The Lincoln Portraits 96
Lincoln’s Faith in Providence 97
Lincoln’s Last Words 99
A Chicagoan Who Saw Lincoln Shot 101
Martyred Lincoln’s Blood 104
A Strange Coincidence in the Lives of Lincoln and His Slayer 105
Where is the Original Emancipation Proclamation 106
Mr. Griffiths on Lincoln 107
A Famous Chicago Lawyer’s Views 107
Lincoln Was Plain but Great 109
Lincoln’s Specific Life Work 110
The Proposed Purchase of the Slaves 111
Senator Thurston’s Speech 112
Lincoln Analyzed 116
The Religion of the Presidents 121





The strength Lincoln displayed when he was ten years old is remarkable. At that age he was almost constantly using an axe in chopping and splitting wood and he used it with great skill, sinking it deeper into the wood than any other person. He cut the elm and linn brush used for feeding the stock, drove the team, handled the old shovel-plow, wielded the sickle, threshed wheat with a flail, fanned and cleaned it with a sheet and performed other labor that few men of to-day could do so well. He wielded the axe from the age of ten till he was twenty-three. As he grew older he became one of the strongest and most popular “hands” in the vicinity and his services were in great demand. He was employed as a “hand” by his neighbors at 25 cents a day, which money was paid to his father.


Mr. Lincoln was a remarkably strong man; he was strong as well as tall. He was in the habit of measuring his height with other tall men,—he did this even in[12] the White House. In 1859 he visited the Wisconsin State Fair at Milwaukee and was led around by the then Governor Hoyt. They entered a tent where a “strong man” was performing with huge iron balls. His feats amazed and interested Lincoln. The governor told him to go up on the platform and be introduced to the athlete, by whose exhibition of skill he was so fascinated. He did so, and after the formal introduction he remarked to the “strong man,” who was short of stature: “Why, I could lick salt off the top of your hat.”


While a clerk in a general store at New Salem, Ill., Lincoln gained the reputation of being a skillful and powerful wrestler. Near New Salem was a settlement known as Clary’s Grove, in which lived an organization known as “Clary’s Grove Boys.” They were rude in their manners and rough and boastful in their ways, being what would to-day be called “a set of rowdies.”

The leader of this organization, and the strongest of the lot, was a young man named Armstrong. It had been said that Lincoln could easily outdo any one of the Clary Grove boys in anything and the report naturally touched the pride of the Armstrong youth. He felt compelled to prove the truth or falsity of such a story, and accordingly a wrestling match was arranged between Lincoln and himself.

It was a great day in the village of New Salem and Clary’s Grove. The match was[13] held on the ground in front of the store in which Lincoln had been clerking. There was much betting on the result, the odds being against Lincoln. Hardly, however, had the two wrestlers taken hold of each other before the Armstrong youth found that he had “met a foe worthy his steel.” The two wrestled long and hard, each doing his utmost to throw the other but to no avail. Both kept their feet; neither could throw the other. The Armstrong youth being convinced that he could not throw Lincoln, tried a “foul.” This resort to dishonest means to gain an advantage inflamed Lincoln with indignation, and he immediately caught young Armstrong by the throat, held him at arm’s length and “shook him like a child.”

Armstrong’s friends rushed to his rescue, and for a time it seemed as if Lincoln would be mobbed. But he held his own bravely and all alone, and by his daring excited the admiration of even those whose sympathies were with young Armstrong. What at one time seemed to result in a general fight resulted in a general handshake, even “Jack” Armstrong declaring that Lincoln was “the best fellow who ever broke into camp.”


When Lincoln lived in Illinois (New Salem) he wore trousers made of flax and tow cut tight at the ankles and out at both knees. Though a very poor young man he was universally welcomed in every house of the neighborhood. Money was so[14] scarce in those days that it is known that Lincoln once split 400 rails for every yard of brown jeans, dyed with white walnut bark, that would be necessary to make him a pair of trousers.


Even when he was a boy Lincoln was sometimes called upon to write poetry. The following are among his earliest attempts at rhyme:

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

It is needless to say that Lincoln himself carried out what he wrote so well; in other words, he “practiced what he preached.” It was in a great measure owing to his constant application to his books that he afterward became a great man.

The following poem Mr. Lincoln wrote in 1844, while on a visit to the home of his childhood:

My childhood’s home I see again
And sadden with the view;
And, still, as memory crowds my brain,
There’s pleasure in it, too.
Oh, memory, thou midway world
’Twixt earth and paradise,
Where things decayed and loved ones lost
In dreamy shadows rise;
And, freed from all that’s earthy vile,
Seems hallowed, pure and bright,
Like scenes in some enchanted isle,
All bathed in liquid light.



“Abe” Lincoln was always ready and willing to help any one. Once he was in a spelling match at school when the word “defied” had been given out by the teacher. It had been misspelled several times when it came the turn of a girl friend of Lincoln’s to spell. The pupils were arranged on opposite sides of the room and “Abe” was watching his friend as she struggled with the spelling. She began d-e-f, and stopped, being unable to decide whether to proceed with an i or a y. Happening to look up, she caught sight of Abe, who was grinning. He pointed with his index finger to his eye. The hint was quickly understood, the word was spelled with an i and it went through all right.


In March, 1830, the Lincoln family moved from Gentryville, Indiana, to near Decatur, Illinois, their household goods being packed in a wagon drawn by four oxen driven by “Abe.” The winter previous Lincoln had worked in a country store in Gentryville and before undertaking the journey he invested all the money he had, some thirty dollars, in notions, such as needles, pins, thread, buttons and other domestic necessities. These he sold to families along the route and made a profit of about one hundred per cent. This shows he had a mind for seizing hold of opportunities for making money even when young.



The life of Lincoln during the time the family lived in Kentucky appears to have been entirely uneventful. He helped his mother—after he was 3 years old—in the simple household duties, went to the district school, and played with the children of the neighborhood. The only one of young Lincoln’s playmates now living is an old man nearly 100 years old named Austin Gollaher, whose mind is bright and clear, and who never tires of telling of the days Lincoln and he “were little tikes and played together.” This old man, who yet lives in the log house in which he has always lived, a few miles from the old Lincoln place, tells entertaining stories about the President’s boyhood.

Mr. Gollaher says that they were together more than the other boys in school, that he became fond of his little friend, and he believed that Abe thought a great deal of him.

In speaking of various events of minor importance in their boyhood days Mr. Gollaher remarked: “I once saved Lincoln’s life.” Upon being urged to tell of the occurrence he thus related it: “We had been going to school together one year; but the next year we had no school, because there were so few scholars to attend, there being only about twenty in the school the year before.

“Consequently Abe and I had not much to do; but, as we did not go to school and our mothers were strict with us, we did not get to see each other very often. One[17] Sunday morning my mother waked me up early, saying she was going to see Mrs. Lincoln, and that I could go along. Glad of the chance, I was soon dressed and ready to go. After my mother and I got there Abe and I played all through the day.

“While we were wandering up and down the little stream called Knob Creek Abe said: ‘Right up there’—pointing to the east—‘we saw a covey of partridges yesterday. Let’s go over and get some of them.’ The stream was swollen and was too wide for us to jump across. Finally we saw a narrow foot-log, and we concluded to try it. It was narrow, but Abe said, ‘Let’s coon it.’

“I went first and reached the other side all right. Abe went about half-way across, when he got scared and began trembling. I hollered to him, ‘Don’t look down nor up nor sideways, but look right at me and hold on tight!’ But he fell off into the creek, and, as the water was about seven or eight feet deep and I could not swim, and neither could Abe, I knew it would do no good for me to go in after him.

“So I got a stick—a long water sprout—and held it out to him. He came up, grabbing with both hands, and I put the stick into his hands. He clung to it, and I pulled him out on the bank, almost dead. I got him by the arms and shook him well, and then rolled him on the ground, when the water poured out of his mouth.

“He was all right very soon. We promised each other that we would never tell[18] anybody about it, and never did for years. I never told any one of it until after Lincoln was killed.”


One man in Gentryville, Ind., a Mr. Jones, the storekeeper, took a Louisville paper, and here Lincoln went regularly to read and discuss its contents. All the men and boys of the neighborhood gathered there, and everything which the paper related was subjected to their keen, shrewd common sense. It was not long before young Lincoln became the favorite member of the group and the one listened to most eagerly. Politics was warmly discussed by these Gentryville citizens, and it may be that sitting on the counter of Jones’ grocery Lincoln even discussed slavery. It certainly was one of the live questions of Indiana at that date.

Young Lincoln was not only winning in those days in the Jones grocery store a reputation as a debater and story teller, but he was becoming known as a kind of backwoods orator. He could repeat with effect all the poems and speeches in his various school readers, he could imitate to perfection the wandering preachers who came to Gentryville, and he could make a political speech so stirring that he drew a crowd about him every time he mounted a stump. The applause he won was sweet, and frequently he indulged his gifts when he ought to have been at work—so thought his employers and Thomas, his father.[19] It was trying, no doubt, to the hard pushed farmers to see the men who ought to have been cutting grass or chopping wood throw down their sickles or axes to group around a boy whenever he mounted a stump to develop a pet theory or repeat with variations yesterday’s sermon. In his fondness for speech-making he attended all the trials of the neighborhood and frequently walked 15 miles to Booneville to attend court.


As will be learned elsewhere in this book Annie Rutledge was Lincoln’s first love. Mrs. William Prewitt, of Fairfield, Iowa, is a sister of Annie Rutledge. She is a widow in comfortable circumstances and lives with one of her sons. This is what she says of her dead sister and Lincoln:

“Her death made a great impression upon him I could see. We never knew him to jolly or laugh afterward. Annie was next to the oldest girl in our family, and she had a great deal of the housework to do. I remember seeing her washing in the old-fashioned way. She would sweep and bake, and was a good cook and took pride in her housework. She and Abe were very jolly together sometimes. They used to sing together. There was one song I didn’t like to hear, and he would sing it to tease me. He would tip back his chair and roar it out at the top of his voice, over and over again, just for fun. I have the book they used to sing out of yet with that song in it.”


The book is an old-fashioned “Missouri Harmony,” and the song is as follows:

When in death I shall calmly recline,
O, bear my heart to my mistress dear;
Tell her it lived on smiles and wine
Of brightest hue while it lingered here;
Bid her not shed one tear of sorrow
To sully a heart so brilliant and bright,
But healing drops of the red grape borrow
To bathe the relick from morn till night.

When informed that the song was a queer one to sing for fun, Mrs. Prewitt replied that “it is a queer song anyhow.”


A citizen of Buffalo has found among his papers an account of the circumstances under which Abraham Lincoln made his maiden speech. It was originally printed in the Springfield (Ill.) Republican, and is as follows:

“The President of the United States made his maiden speech in Sangamon County, at Pappsville (or Richland), in the year 1832. He was then a Whig and a candidate for the Legislature of this State. The speech is sharp and sensible. To understand why it was so short the following facts will show: 1. Mr. Lincoln was a young man of 23 years of age and timid. 2. His friends and opponents in the joint discussion had rolled the sun nearly down. Lincoln saw it was not the proper time then to discuss the question fully, and hence he cut his remarks short. Probably the other candidates had exhausted the subjects under discussion. The time, according[21] to W. H. Herndon’s informant—who has kindly furnished this valuable reminiscence for us—was 1832; it may have been 1831. The President lived at the time with James A. Herndon, at Salem, Sangamon County, who heard the speech, talked about it, and knows the report to be correct. The speech, which was characteristic of the man, was as follows:

“‘Gentlemen, Fellow-Citizens: I presume you all know who I am. I am humble Abraham Lincoln. I have been solicited by my friends to become a candidate for the Legislature. My politics are short and sweet, like an “old woman’s dance.” I am in favor of a national bank. I am in favor of the international improvement system and a high protective tariff. These are my sentiments and political principles. If elected, I will be thankful. If defeated, it will be all the same.’”


As a grocery clerk at New Salem Lincoln was scrupulously honest. This trait of his soon became known, but the two following incidents are particularly responsible for the appellation of “Honest Abe,” given him and by which he has been so familiarly known. He once took six and a quarter cents too much from a customer. He did not say to himself, “never mind such little things,” but walked three miles that evening, after closing his store, to return the money. On another occasion he weighed out a half-pound of tea, as he[22] supposed, it being night when he did so, and that having been the last thing he sold in the store before going home. On entering in the morning he discovered a four-ounce weight on the scales. He saw his mistake, and shutting up shop, hurried off to deliver the remainder of the tea. These acts of his, as well as his thorough honesty in other respects, soon gained for him the now famous title of “Honest Abe.”


Lincoln was always ready to help any man, woman, child or animal. He was naturally kindhearted, and “possessed in an extraordinary degree the power of entering into the interests of others, a power found only in reflective, unselfish natures.” He loved his friends and sympathized with them in their troubles. He was anxious always to do his share in making their labors day after day as light as possible.

Thus we are told by his neighbors (biography by Mr. Herndon and others) that he cared for the children while on a visit to a friend’s house; gave up his own bed in the tavern where he was boarding when the house was full, and slept on the counter; helped farmers pull out the wheel of their wagon when it got stuck in the mud; chopped wood for the widows; rocked the cradle while the woman of the house where he was staying was busy getting the meal, and otherwise made himself useful. No wonder there was not a housewife in all New Salem who would not gladly “put on a plate” for Abe Lincoln, or who would[23] not darn or mend for him whenever he needed such services. It was the “spontaneous, unobtrusive helpfulness of the man’s nature which endeared him to everybody.”


Mr. Lincoln went into partnership in the grocery business in New Salem. Ill., with a man named Berry. This man Berry mismanaged the business while Lincoln was away surveying. Eventually he died, leaving Lincoln to pay a debt of eleven hundred dollars contracted by the firm. In those days it was the fashion for business men who had failed to “clear out,” that is, skip the town and settle elsewhere. Not so with “Abe.” He quietly settled down among the men he owed and promised to pay them. He asked only time. For several years he worked to pay off this debt, a load which he cheerfully and manfully bore. He habitually spoke of it to his friends as the “national debt,” it was so heavy. As late as 1848, when he was a member of Congress, he sent home a part of his salary to be applied on these obligations. All the notes, with the high interest rates then prevailing, were finally paid.


In May, 1831, Lincoln and a few companions went to New Orleans on a flat-boat and remained there a month. It was there that he witnessed for the first time negro men and women sold like[24] animals. The poor beings were chained, whipped and scourged. “Against this inhumanity his sense of right and justice rebelled, and his mind and conscience were awakened to a realization of what he had often heard and read,” writes one of his biographers, Ida M. Tarbell. One morning, in his rambles with his friends over the city, he passed a slave auction. A comely mulatto girl of vigorous physique was being sold. She underwent a thorough examination at the hands of the bidders; they pinched her flesh, and made her trot up and down the room like a horse to show how she moved, and in order, as the auctioneer said, that “bidders might satisfy themselves” whether the article they were offering to buy was sound or not. “The whole thing was so revolting that Lincoln moved away from the scene with a deep feeling of unconquerable hate.” He remarked to his companions: “If I ever get a chance to hit that thing (slavery) I’ll hit it hard.”


Abraham Lincoln had a very brief experience with actual warfare. He enlisted with a company of volunteers to take part in the Black Hawk war. It was the custom in those days for each company to elect its own Captain, and Lincoln was chosen Captain of his company almost unanimously. He was heard to say many times in after life that no other success in his life had given him such pleasure[25] as did this one. His command did little, as they were never engaged in a pitched battle, so Lincoln had to be content “with the reputation of being the best comrade and story-teller in the camp.” It is a peculiar coincidence that Jefferson Davis also served as an officer in this war.


These famous words originated with the good and lowly Abraham Lincoln:

“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”

His affection for his mother was very strong, and long after her death he would speak of her affectionately and tearfully. She was a woman five feet five inches in height, slender of figure, pale of complexion, sad of expression, and of a sensitive nature. Of a heroic nature, she yet shrank from the rude life around her. About two years after her removal from Kentucky to Indiana she died. “Abe” was then ten years old. She was buried under a tree near the cabin home, where little “Abe” would often betake himself and, sitting on her lonely grave, weep over his irreparable loss.

Lincoln’s mother was buried in a green pine box made by his father. Although a boy of ten years at that time, it was through his efforts that a parson came all the way from Kentucky to Indiana three months later to preach the sermon and conduct the service. The child could not rest in peace till due honor had been done his dead mother.



“Abe was a good boy, and I can say what scarcely one woman—a mother—can say in a thousand: Abe never gave me a cross word or look, and never refused, in fact or appearance, to do anything I requested him. I never gave him a cross word in all my life. … His mind and mine—what little I had—seemed to run together. He was here after he was elected President. He was a dutiful son to me always. I think he loved me truly. I had a son, John, who was raised with Abe. Both were good boys; but I must say, both now being dead, that Abe was the best boy I ever saw, or expect to see.”—Ida M. Tarbell.


Lincoln’s first love was Anna Rutledge, of New Salem, whose father was keeper of the Rutledge tavern where “Abe” boarded. The girl had been engaged to a young man named John McNeill, whom, we are informed, the village community pronounced an adventurer and a man unworthy the girl’s love. He left for the east, promising, however, to return within a year and claim her as his wife, so the story reads. According to Mrs. William Prewitt, a sister of Anna Rutledge, who is at present (1898) living, the engagement was broken off before McNeill went away, so that she was free to receive the attentions of “Abe” Lincoln. She finally promised to become his wife in the spring[27] of 1835, soon after his return from Vandalia. But, unfortunately, circumstances did not permit of a marriage then, Lincoln being barely able to support himself, not yet having been admitted to the bar, and the girl, being but seventeen years old. It was agreed that she should attend an academy at Jacksonville, Ill., and Lincoln would devote himself to his law studies till the next spring, when he would be admitted to the bar, and then they would be married.

New Salem was deeply interested in the young lovers and prophesied a happy life for them; but fate willed it otherwise. Anna Rutledge became seriously ill, with an attack of brain fever, and when it was seen that her recovery was impossible Lincoln, her lover, was sent for. They “passed an hour alone in an anguished parting,” and soon after (August 25, 1835,) Anna died.

The death of his sweetheart was a terrible blow to Lincoln. His melancholy increased and darkened his mind and his imagination, and tortured him with its black picture. One stormy night he was sitting beside a friend of his, with his head bowed on his hand, while tears trickled through his fingers. His friend begged him to try to control his sorrow; to try to forget it. Lincoln replied: “I cannot; the thought of the snow and rain on Ann’s grave fills me with indescribable grief.” For many days Lincoln journeyed on foot to the cemetery where Anna Rutledge lay buried, and there alone, in the “city of the[28] dead,” wept for the girl whom he had loved so well. Many years afterward, when he had married and become great, he said to a friend who questioned him: “I really and truly loved the girl and think often of her now.” After a pause he added: “And I have loved the name of Rutledge to this day.”


President Abraham Lincoln and General Joe Shields, who married sisters, once arranged to fight a duel at Alton, Ill. It is remembered yet by the old settlers. Shields had offended a young lady at Springfield, and she got even by sending an article about it to a Springfield paper, signing a nom de plume. The next day General Shields called upon the editor and gave him 24 hours during which to divulge the name of the author or to take the consequences. The editor, who was a friend of Abraham Lincoln, called upon him and asked what to do. Not thinking it was a very serious affair, Lincoln promptly said, “Tell him that I wrote it.” The editor did so, and General Shields challenged Lincoln to a duel, the latter accepting and choosing broadswords as the weapons and an island opposite Alton as the place. The principals and seconds went to the place appointed, when a chance remark of Lincoln that he hated to have to kill Shields because he caused him to believe that he wrote the article in order to protect a lady, brought about a reconciliation, and the duel failed to come off. Hundreds[29] of people were on the bank of the river, and to carry out a joke a log was dressed up, placed in a skiff, the occupants fanning it with their hats as though it was an injured man, and the excitement was intense. It always remained a sore spot with Lincoln, and but little was ever said about it.


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

“Miss Todd, I should like to dance with you the worst way.”

The young woman accepted the inevitable and hobbled around the room with him. When she returned to her seat, one of her companions asked mischievously:

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

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


In 1839 Miss Mary Todd, of Kentucky, arrived in Springfield to visit a married[30] sister, Mrs. Edwards. At the instance of his friend Speed, who was also a Kentuckian, Lincoln became a visitor at the Edwards’, and before long it was apparent to the observant among those in Springfield that the lively young lady held him captive. Engagements at that time and in that neighborhood were not announced as soon as they were made, and it is not at all impossible that Miss Todd and Mr. Lincoln were betrothed many months before any other than Mrs. Edwards and Mr. Speed knew of it.

At this time, as was the case till Lincoln was elected to the presidency, his one special rival in Illinois was Stephen A. Douglas. Mr. Douglas had more of the social graces than Mr. Lincoln, and it appeared to him that nothing would be more interesting than to cut out his political rival in the affections of the entertaining and lively Miss Todd, and so he paid her court.

A spirited young lady from Kentucky at that time in Illinois would have been almost less than human if she had refused to accept the attentions of the two leading men of the locality. Therefore Miss Todd, being quite human, encouraged Douglas, and again there was what nowadays would have been called a flirtation. This course of action did not spur Lincoln on in his devotion, but made him less ardent, and he concluded, after much self worriment, to break off the engagement, which he did, but at the same interview there was a reconciliation and a renewal of the engagement.


Lincoln’s marriage to Mary Todd occurred in Springfield, Ill., at the home of Mr. M. W. Edwards, where Miss Todd lived. She was the belle of Springfield. The marriage, although hastily arranged in the end, was perhaps the first one performed in that city with all the requirements of the Episcopal ceremony. Rev. Charles Dresser officiated. Among the many friends of Lincoln who were present was Thomas C. Brown, one of the judges of the state supreme court. He was a blunt, outspoken man and an old timer.

Parson Dresser was attired in full canonical robes and recited the service with much impressive solemnity. He handed Lincoln the ring, who, placing it on the bride’s finger, repeated the church formula, “With this ring I thee endow with all my goods and chattels, lands and tenements.”

Judge Brown, who had never before witnessed such a ceremony, and looked upon it as utterly absurd, ejaculated, in a tone loud enough to be heard by all, “God Almighty, Lincoln, the statute fixes all that!” This unexpected interruption almost upset the old parson, who had a keen sense of the ridiculous, but he quickly recovered his gravity and hastily pronounced the couple man and wife.


That Lincoln was a man of extraordinary personal appearance is well known. He measured six feet four inches, and as most men are below six feet it will be seen that he was considerably taller[32] than the average. He possessed great strength, both bodily and mental, and had a superabundance of patience, which he displayed constantly, and treated even those who differed with him with respect and kindness. One who had sustained close relations with Lincoln and knew him intimately, the late Charles A. Dana, in his Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln, published in McClure’s Magazine, thus describes him:

“Mr. Lincoln’s face was thin, and his features were large. He had black hair, heavy eyebrows, and a square and well developed forehead. His complexion was dark and quite sallow. He had a smile that was most lovely, surpassing even a woman’s smile in its engaging quality. When pleased his face would light up very pleasantly. Some have said he was awkward in his step. The word ‘awkward’ hardly fits, because there was such a charm and beauty about his expression, such good humor and friendly spirit looking from his eyes, that one looking at him never thought whether he was awkward or graceful. His whole personality at once caused you to think, ‘What a kindly character this man has!’ Always dignified in manner, he was benevolent and benignant, always wishing to do somebody some good if he could. He was all solid, hard, keen intelligence combined with goodness.”


Not long before his tragic death, Mr. Lincoln said: “All that I am, and all that[33] I hope to be, I owe to my mother.” That mother died when little Abe was nine years of age. But she had already woven the texture of her deepest character into the habits and purposes of her boy. Her own origin had been humble. But there were certain elements in her character that prepared her for grand motherhood. When Nancy Hanks, at the age of twenty-three, gave her heart and hand to Thomas Lincoln, she was a young woman of large trustfulness, of loving, unselfish disposition, of profound faith in Divine Providence, of unswerving Christian profession.

On the day of their marriage Thomas Lincoln took this young wife to his unfinished cabin, which had as yet neither door, floor, nor window. The young man was a shiftless Kentucky hunter, who could not read a word. He was handy with his few carpenter tools, but had received no encouragement to keep at work. His happy, trusting wife assisted him to finish the cabin. He mortared the chinks with mud which they together had mixed. Her hope and song made the work of the day his happy employ. In the evening she taught him to read, spelling the words out of her Bible as the text book, which served her double purpose.

From that day Thomas Lincoln was a new man. It was this conscientious wife that inspired him to move across the Ohio into the free State of Indiana. Here Lincoln soon became a justice of the peace. When this wife died, only twelve years[34] after their marriage, Thomas Lincoln had been transformed from the shiftless hunter, who could not read, to an intelligent farmer of the largest influence of any man in his township. Little Abe had been taught to read out of that same Bible, and had read out of that mother’s eyes and voice her large trust in the overshadowing Providence and her unswerving honesty in doing the right. It was this woman that put into his hands the fine books—the Bible, Pilgrim’s Progress, Æsop’s Fables, Robinson Crusoe, and Weems’s Life of Washington.

Such was the mother that started Abraham Lincoln. “Widow Johnston,” who became his stepmother, was a good woman, with whom he always maintained the kindest relations. She deserved the honorable mention she received.


A friend of Lincoln writes: Lincoln’s periods of melancholy are proverbial. On one occasion, while in court in 1855, Maj. H. C. Whitney describes him as “sitting alone in one corner of the room remote from any one else, wrapped in abstraction and gloom. It was a sad but interesting study for me, and I watched him for some time. It appeared as if he were pursuing in his mind some sad subject through various sinuosities, and his face would assume at times the deepest phases of seeming pain, but no relief came from this dark and despairing melancholy till he was roused by the breaking up of court, when he emerged from his cave of gloom[35] and came back, like one awakened from sleep, to the world in which he lived again.” As early as 1837 Robert L. Wilson, who was his colleague in the legislature, testifies that Lincoln admitted to him that, although he appeared to enjoy life rapturously, still he was the victim of extreme melancholy, and that he was so overcome at times by depression of spirits that he never dared carry a pocketknife.

To physicians he was something of a physiological puzzle. John T. Stuart insisted that his digestion was organically defective, so that the pores of his skin oftentimes performed the functions of the bowels; that his liver operated abnormally and failed to secrete bile, and that these things themselves were sufficient in his opinion to produce the deepest mental depression and melancholy.

Lincoln’s law partner, Mr. Herndon, attributed Lincoln’s melancholy to the death of Anna Rutledge, believing that his grief at her untimely death was so intense that it cast a perpetual shadow over his mental horizon. Another believed that it arose from his domestic environments; that his family relations were far from pleasant, and that that unhappy feature of his life was a constant menace to his peace and perfect equipoise of spirits. “Although married,” says one, “he was not mated, so that if we see him come into his office in the morning eating cheese and bologna sausages philosophically, what can we expect but some periods of sadness and gloom? Emerson, who you and I hold[36] in high esteem, had pie for breakfast all his married life, and in my opinion that is what clouded his memory the rest of his life after seventy years of age.”


Emma Gurley Adams in the New York Press.

Sir:—The admirable speech of Hon. Thomas B. Reed in your paper of Feb. 9 contains one error which I would like to correct. Mr. Reed says Mr. Lincoln was six feet four inches in height. Mr. Lincoln told my father that he was exactly six feet three inches only a short time before his tragic death. Mr. Lincoln was very fond of tall men, and generally knew their exact height and never hesitated to say: “I am exactly six feet three.”


That Lincoln was a skilled lawyer is well known. It is not, however, generally known that he learned law himself, never having studied with anyone, or having attended any law school. He was preëminently a self-educated man. He borrowed law books of his friend Stuart, of Springfield, Ill., took them home (twenty miles away) and studied them hard. He walked all the way to Springfield and back, and usually read while walking. He often read aloud during these trips. Twenty years afterward, while he was a great lawyer and statesman, he gave this advice to a young man who asked him “how he could become a great lawyer.” “Get books, and read and study them[37] carefully. Begin with Blackstone’s ‘Commentaries,’ and after reading carefully through, say twice, take up Chitty’s ‘Pleadings,’ Greenleaf’s ‘Evidence,’ and Story’s ‘Equity,’ in succession. Work, work, work is the main thing.”


When Lincoln became a lawyer, he carried to the bar his habitual honesty. His associates were often surprised by his utter disregard of self-interest, while they could but admire his conscientious defense of what he considered right. One day a stranger called to secure his services.

“State your case,” said Lincoln.

A history of the case was given, when Lincoln astonished him by saying:

“I cannot serve you; for you are wrong, and the other party is right.”

“That is none of your business, if I hire and pay you for taking the case,” retorted the man.

“Not my business!” exclaimed Lincoln. “My business is never to defend wrong, if I am a lawyer. I never undertake a case that is manifestly wrong.”

“Well, you can make trouble for the fellow,” added the applicant.

“Yes,” replied Lincoln, fully aroused, “there is no doubt but that I can gain the case for you, and set a whole neighborhood at loggerhead. I can distress a widowed mother and her six fatherless children, and thereby get for you six hundred dollars, which rightly belongs as[38] much to the woman and her children as it does to you; but I won’t do it.”

“Not for any amount of pay?” continued the stranger.

“Not for all you are worth,” replied Lincoln. “You must remember that some things which are legally right are not morally right. I shall not take your case.”

“I don’t care a snap whether you do or not!” exclaimed the man angrily, starting to go.

“I will give you a piece of advice without charge,” added Lincoln. “You seem to be a sprightly, energetic man; I would advise you to make six hundred dollars some other way.”


Even as early as 1852 Lincoln had acquired a reputation for story telling. When not busy during the session of the court he was “habitually whispering stories to his neighbors, frequently to the annoyance of Judge Davis, who presided over the Eighth circuit.” If Lincoln persisted too long the judge would rap on the chair and exclaim: “Come, come, Mr. Lincoln; I can’t stand this! There is no use trying to carry on two courts. I must adjourn mine or yours, and I think you will have to be the one.” As soon as the group had scattered the judge would call one of the men to him and ask: “What was that Lincoln was telling?”

In his law practice Lincoln seems to have been singularly conscientious, his[39] first effort being to try to arrange matters so as to avoid litigation. Nor would he assume a case that he felt was not founded upon right and justice.


Another one of these anecdotes is related in connection with a case involving a bodily attack. Mr. Lincoln defended, and told the jury that his client was in the fix of a man who, in going along the highway with a pitchfork over his shoulder, was attacked by a fierce dog that ran out at him from a farmer’s door-yard. In parrying off the brute with the fork its prongs stuck into him and killed him.

“What made you kill my dog?” said the farmer.

“What made him bite me?”

“But why did you not go after him with the other end of the pitchfork?”

“Why did he not come at me with his other end?” At this Mr. Lincoln whirled about in his long arms an imaginary dog and pushed his tail end towards the jury. This was the defensive plea of “Son assault demesne”—loosely, that “The other fellow brought on the fight”—quickly told and in a way the dullest mind would grasp and retain.


A lady who had a real estate claim which she desired prosecuted once called on Lincoln and wished him to take up her case. She left the claim in his hands, together with a check for two hundred dollars as[40] a retaining fee. Lincoln told her to call the next day, and meanwhile he would examine her claim.

Upon presenting herself the next day the lady was informed that he had examined the case carefully, and told her frankly that she had no valid or legal grounds on which to base her claim. He therefore could not advise her to institute legal proceedings. The lady was satisfied, and thanking him, rose to leave.

“Wait,” said Lincoln, at the same time fumbling in his vest pocket, “here is the check you left with me.”

“But, Mr. Lincoln, I think you have earned that,” replied the lady.

“No, no,” he responded, handing it back to her, “that would not be right. I can’t take pay for doing my duty.”—From Lincoln’s Stories, by J. B. McClure.


The son of Lincoln’s old friend and former employer, who had loaned him books, was charged with a murder committed in a riot at a camp-meeting. Lincoln volunteered for the defense.

A witness swore that he saw the prisoner strike the fatal blow. It was night, but he swore that the full moon was shining clear, and he saw everything distinctly. The case seemed hopeless, but Lincoln produced an almanac, and showed that at that hour there was no moon. “Then he depicted the crime of perjury with such eloquence that the false witness fled the court house.”

One who heard the trial says: “It was[41] near night when Lincoln concluded, saying, ‘If justice was done, before the sun set it would shine upon his client a free man.’”

The court charged the jury; they returned and brought in a verdict of “not guilty.” The prisoner fell into his weeping mother’s arms, says the writer, and then turned to thank Lincoln. The latter, looking out at the sun, said: “It is not yet sundown, and you are free.”—From Lincoln’s Stories, by J. B. McClure.


Mr. Lincoln once remarked to a fellow-passenger on the old-time mud-wagon coach, on the corduroy road which antedated railroads, that all men were prompted by selfishness in doing good or evil. His fellow-passenger was antagonizing his position when they were passing over a corduroy bridge that spanned a slough. As they crossed this bridge, and the mud-wagon was shaking like a sucker with chills, they espied an old, razor-back sow on the bank of the slough, making a terrible noise because her pigs had got into the slough and were unable to get out and in danger of drowning. As the old coach began to climb the hillside Mr. Lincoln called out: “Driver, can’t you stop just a moment?” The driver replied. “If the other feller don’t object.” The “other feller”—who was no less a personage than, at that time, “Col.” E. D. Baker, the gallant general who gave his life in defense of old glory at Ball’s Bluff—did not “object,” when Mr. Lincoln jumped[42] out, ran back to the slough and began to lift the little pigs out of the mud and water and place them on the bank. When he returned Col. Baker remarked: “Now, Abe, where does selfishness come in in this little episode?” “Why, bless your soul, Ed, that was the very essence of selfishness. I would have had no peace of mind all day had I gone on and left that suffering old sow worrying over those pigs. I did it to get peace of mind, don’t you see?”


One of the most interesting anecdotes about the beloved Lincoln is the one quoted from Joe Jefferson’s autobiography. Jefferson and his father were playing at Springfield during the session of the legislature, and, as there was no theaters in town, had gone to the expense of building one. Hardly had this been done when a religious revival broke out. The church people condemned the theater and prevailed upon the authorities to impose a license which was practically prohibition.

“In the midst of our trouble,” says Jefferson, “a young lawyer called on the managers. He had heard of the injustice and offered, if they would place the matter in his hands, to have the license taken off, men then in vogue he remarked how much declaring that he only desired to see fair play, and he would accept no fee whether he failed or succeeded. The young lawyer began his harangue. He handled the[43] subject with tact, skill and humor, tracing the history of the drama from the time when Thespis acted in a cart to the stage of to-day. He illustrated his speech with a number of anecdotes and kept the council in a roar of laughter. His good humor prevailed and the exorbitant tax was taken off. The young lawyer was Lincoln.”


Abraham Lincoln was fond of a good story, and it is a well-known fact that he often illustrated an important point in the business at hand by resorting to his favorite pastime. Probably one of the best he ever told he related of himself when he was a lawyer in Illinois. One day Lincoln and a certain judge, who was an intimate friend of his, were bantering each other about horses, a favorite topic of theirs. Finally Lincoln said:

“Well, look here. Judge, I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll make a horse trade with you, only it must be upon these stipulations: Neither party shall see the other’s horse until it is produced here in the court yard of the hotel, and both parties must trade horses. If either party backs out of the agreement, he does so under a forfeiture of $25.”

“Agreed,” cried the judge, and both he and Lincoln went in quest of their respective animals.

A crowd gathered, anticipating some fun, and when the judge returned first, the laugh was uproarious. He led, or rather dragged, at the end of a halter the meanest,[44] boniest, rib-staring quadruped—blind in both eyes—that ever pressed turf. But presently Lincoln came along carrying over his shoulder a carpenter’s horse. Then the mirth of the crowd was furious. Lincoln solemnly set his horse down, and silently surveyed the judge’s animal with a comical look of infinite disgust.

“Well, Judge,” he finally said, “this is the first time I ever got the worst of it in a horse trade.”


His first case at the bar will never be forgotten by ex-Senator John C. S. Blackburn, of Kentucky, for Abraham Lincoln played a conspicuous part in helping the young Kentuckian to win his suit. Lincoln was merely an attorney, waiting for one of his cases to be called, when the incident occurred.

Ex-Senator Blackburn was but 20 years old when he began the practice of law, having graduated at Center College, Danville, Ky. His first case was in the United States court in Chicago, presided over by Justice John McLean, then on the circuit, says the Chicago Times-Herald. The opposing counsel was Isaac N. Arnold, then at the head of the Chicago bar, and subsequently a member of congress and author of the first biography of Lincoln. Young Blackburn had filed a demurrer to Mr. Arnold’s pleadings in the cause, and when the case was reached on the calendar the young Kentuckian was quite nervous at having such a formidable and experienced antagonist, while the dignity of the[45] tribunal and the presence of a large number of eminent lawyers in court served to increase his timidity and embarrassment. In truth, the stripling barrister was willing to have any disposition made of the cause, in order to get rid of the burden of embarrassment and “stage fright.” He was ready to adopt any suggestion the opposing counsel should make.

Arnold made an argument in which he criticized the demurrer in a manner that increased the young lawyer’s confusion. However, Blackburn knew that he had to make some kind of an effort. He proceeded with a few remarks, weak and bewildering, and was about to sit down when a tall, homely, loose-jointed man sitting in the bar arose and addressed the court in behalf of the position the young Kentuckian had assumed in a feeble and tangled argument, making the points so clear that the court sustained the demurrer.

Blackburn did not know who his volunteer friend was, and Mr. Arnold got up and sought to rebuke the latter for attempting to interfere in the case, which he had nothing to do with. This volunteer was none other than Abraham Lincoln, and this was the first and last time the Kentuckian ever saw the “rail-splitting President.” In replying to Mr. Arnold’s strictures, Mr. Lincoln said he claimed the privilege of giving a young lawyer a helping hand when struggling with his first case, especially when he was pitted against an experienced practitioner.



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

“Hello, Uncle Tommy,” said Abe. “Hello, Abe,” responded Uncle Tommy. “I’m powerful glad to see ye, Abe, fer I’m gwyne to have sumthin’ fer ye at Lewiston cot, I reckon.”

“How’s that, Uncle Tommy?” said Abe.

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

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


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

“Only tollable, Abe.”

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

“Nigh on to fifteen year.”

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

“I reckon we do, Abe.”

“Well, now, Uncle Tommy, you see this horse of mine? He isn’t as good a[47] horse as I could straddle, and I sometimes get out of patience with him, but I know his faults. He does fairly well as horses go, and it might take me a long time to get used to some other horse’s faults. For all horses have faults. You and Uncle Jimmy must put up with each other as I and my horse do with one another.”

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

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


Mr. Lincoln, on one occasion narrated to Hon. Mr. Odell and others, with much zest, the following story about young Daniel Webster:

When quite young, at school, Daniel was one day guilty of a gross violation of the rules. He was detected in the act, and called up by the teacher for punishment. This was to be the old-fashioned “feruling” of the hand. His hands happened to be very dirty. Knowing this, on his way to the teacher’s desk, he spit upon the palm of his right hand, wiping it off upon the side of his pantaloons.

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

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

“Daniel! if you will find another hand[48] in this school-room as filthy as that, I will let you off this time!”

Instantly from behind his back came the left hand. “Here it is, sir,” was the ready reply.

“That will do,” said the teacher, “for this time; you can take your seat, sir.”—From Lincoln’s Stories, by J. B. McClure.


There was one story of his career that the late George M. Pullman told with manifest delight, which is thus related by an intimate friend.

One night going out of Chicago, a long, lean, ugly man, with a wart on his cheek, came into the depot. He paid George M. Pullman 50 cents, and half a berth was assigned him. Then he took off his coat and vest and hung them up, and they fitted the peg about as well as they fitted him. Then he kicked off his boots, which were of surprising length, turned into the berth, and, having an easy conscience, was sleeping like a healthy baby before the car left the depot. Along came another passenger and paid his 50 cents. In two minutes he was back at George Pullman.

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

In went Pullman—mad, too. The tall, lank man’s knees were under his chin, his arms were stretched across the bed and his feet were stored comfortably—for him.[49] Pullman shook him until he awoke, and then told him if he wanted the whole berth he would have to pay $1.

“My dear sir,” said the tall man, “a contract is a contract. I have paid you 50 cents for half this berth, and, as you see, I’m occupying it. There’s the other half,” pointing to a strip about six inches wide. “Sell that and don’t disturb me again.” And, so saying, the man with a wart on his face went to sleep again. He was Abraham Lincoln.


On one occasion, when Lincoln and Douglas were “stumping” the State of Illinois together as political opponents, Douglas, who had the first speech, remarked that in early life, his father, who he said was an excellent cooper by trade, apprenticed him out to learn the cabinet business.

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

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

As Douglas was a short heavy-set man, and occasionally imbibed, the pith of the[50] joke was at once apparent, and most heartily enjoyed by all.

On another occasion, Douglas in one of his speeches, made a strong point against Lincoln by telling the crowd that when he first knew Mr. Lincoln he was a “grocery-keeper,” and sold whisky, cigars, etc. “Mr. L.,” he said, “was a very good bar-tender!” This brought the laugh on Lincoln, whose reply, however, soon came, and then the laugh was on the other side.

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

“Many a time have I stood on one side of the counter and sold whisky to Mr. Douglas on the other side, but the difference between us now is this: I have left my side of the counter, but Mr. Douglas still sticks to his as tenaciously as ever!”—From Lincoln’s Stories, by J. B. McClure.


Perhaps no anecdote ever told of Mr. Lincoln illustrates more forcibly his “longheadedness” in laying plans, not even that incident when he asked the “Jedge” a question in his debate with Mr. Douglas, which may be told as follows:

One afternoon during that joint debate Mr. Lincoln was sitting with his friends, planning the program, when he was observed[51] to go off in a kind of reverie, and for some time appeared totally oblivious of everything around him. Then slowly bringing his right hand up, holding it a moment in the air and then letting it fall with a quick slap upon his thigh, he said:

“There, I am going to ask the ‘jedge’ (he always called him the ‘jedge’) a question to-night, and I don’t care the ghost of a continental which way he answers it. If he answers it one way he will lose the senatorship. If he answers it the other way it will lose him the Presidency.”

No one asked him what the question was: but that evening it was the turn for Mr. Douglas to speak first, and right in the midst of his address, all at once Mr. Lincoln roused up as if a new thought had suddenly struck him, and said:

“Jedge, will you allow me to ask you one question?”

“Certainly,” said Mr. Douglas.

“Suppose, Jedge, there was a new town or colony just started in some Western territory; and suppose there were precisely 100 householders—voters—there; and suppose, Jedge, that ninety-nine did not want slavery and one did. What would be done about it?”

Judge Douglas beat about the bush, but failed to give a direct answer.

“No, no, Jedge, that won’t do. Tell us plainly what will be done about it?”

Again Douglas tried to evade, but Lincoln would not be put off, and he insisted[52] that a direct answer should be given. At last Douglas admitted that the majority would have their way by some means or other.

Mr. Lincoln said no more. He had secured what he wanted. Douglas had answered the question as Illinois people would have answered it, and he got the Senatorship. But that answer was not satisfactory to the people of the south. In 1860 the Charleston convention split in two factions and “it lost him the Presidency,” and it made Abraham Lincoln President.


The first time I met Mr. Lincoln was during his contest with Douglas. I was a young clergyman in a small Illinois country town. I was almost a stranger there when Lincoln was announced to make a speech. I went to the hall, got a seat well forward and asked a neighbor to point out Mr. Lincoln when he came in. “You won’t have no trouble knowin’ him when he comes,” said my friend, and I didn’t. Soon a tall, gaunt man came down the aisle and was greeted with hearty applause.

I was specially impressed with the fairness and honesty of the man. He began by stating Douglas’ points as fully and fairly as Douglas could have done. It struck me that he even overdid it in his anxiety to put his opponent’s argument in the most attractive form. But then he went at those arguments and answered them so convincingly that there was nothing more to be said.


Mr. Lincoln’s manner so charmed me that I asked to meet him after the address, and learning that he was to be in town the next day attending court I invited him to dine with me. He came, and we had an interesting visit.

The thing that most impressed me was his reverence for learning. Recently come from divinity studies, I was full of books, and he was earnest in drawing me out about them. He was by no means ignorant of literature, but as a man of affairs naturally he had not followed new things nor studied in the lines I had. Philosophy interested him particularly, and after we had talked about some of the men then in vogue he remarked how much he felt the need of reading and what a loss it was to a man not to have grown up among books.

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

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

I met Mr. Lincoln several times later, the next time a long while after in another place. I thought he would have forgotten me, but he knew me on sight and asked in the gentlest way possible about my wife, who had been ill when he came to see us. But of all my memories of Lincoln the one that stands out strongest was his interest in poetry and theology. He loved the things of the spirit.—A Clergyman.



One of the most valued possessions of the Gillespie family of Edwardsville, Ill., is a package of old letters, the paper stained by time and the ink faded, but each missive rendered invaluable, to them at least, by the well-known signature of Abraham Lincoln which adorns it. These letters, so carefully preserved, are nearly all of a political nature, and are addressed to Hon. Joseph Gillespie, before the war one of the leading politicians of Illinois, a famous stump speaker, several times member of the legislature, and for many years one of Lincoln’s most intimate political friends. The correspondence covers a period of about ten years, from 1849 to 1858, and the most interesting feature of this period, so far as Lincoln was concerned, was his unsuccessful effort to be elected to the United States senate. Probably the first intimation of his ambition in this direction was conveyed to Mr. Gillespie in the following letter, the original of which is now in the possession of the Missouri Historical Association, having been presented to that society by Mr. Gillespie in 1876. A copy, however, forms part of the family collection. It reads:

“Springfield, Ill., December 1, 1854.—(J. Gillespie, Esq.)—Dear Sir: I have really got it into my head to be United States senator, and if I could have your support my chances would be reasonably good. But I know and acknowledge that you have as just claims to the place as I[55] have; and, therefore, I cannot ask you to yield to me if you are thinking of becoming a candidate yourself. If, however, you are not, then I would like to be remembered by you; and also to have you make a mark for me with the anti-Nebraska members down your way. If you know, and have no objection to tell, let me know whether Trumbull intends to make a push. If he does I suppose the two men in St. Clair, and one or both in Madison, will be for him.

“We have the legislature clearly enough on joint ballot, but the senate is very close, and Cullom told me to-day that the Nebraska men will stave off the election if they can. Even if we get into joint vote we shall have difficulty to unite our forces. Please write me and let this be confidential. Your friend as ever.



In narrating “When Lincoln Was First Inaugurated,” Stephen Fiske tells of Mrs. Lincoln’s efforts to have her husband look presentable when receiving a delegation that was to greet them upon reaching New York City.

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

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


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

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

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


There has been much controversy over Lincoln’s religious beliefs, many claiming that he was a deist while others have sought to prove that he was an infidel. Although never a member of any church, there is much documentary as well as corroborative evidence which show him to have been a believer in Providence; and in his parting address to his Springfield neighbors, when leaving for Washington, he said:

“Washington would never have succeeded except for the aid of Divine Providence, upon which he at all times relied. I feel that I cannot succeed without the same Divine blessing which sustained him; and on the same Almighty Being I place my reliance for support. And I hope you, my friends, will all pray that I may receive that Divine assistance, without which I cannot succeed, but with which success is certain.”



After his nomination for the Presidency at the Republican convention of Chicago, a committee visited him in Springfield and gave him official notification of his nomination.

The ceremony over, Lincoln informed the company that custom demanded that he should treat them with something to drink. He thereupon opened a door that led into a room in the rear and called a girl servant. When she appeared Lincoln spoke something to her in an undertone, and returned to his guests. In a few minutes the girl appeared, bearing a large waiter, containing several glass tumblers, and a large pitcher in the midst, which she placed upon the table.

Mr. Lincoln arose and gravely addressing the company, said: “Gentlemen, we must pledge our mutual healths in the most healthy beverage which God has given to man: it is the only beverage I have ever used or allowed in my family, and I cannot conscientiously depart from it on the present occasion. It is pure Adam’s ale from the spring.” So saying he took a tumbler, touched it to his lips and pledged them his highest respects in a cup of cold water. Of course all his guests were constrained to admire his consistency, and to join in his example.—From Lincoln’s Stories, by J. B. McClure.


Speaking of the dedication of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg and President[58] Lincoln’s famous address, delivered on that occasion, Nov. 19, 1863, Gov. Curtain, of Pennsylvania, said that there had been much discussion as to how and when that address was written, and he continued:

“I can tell you all about that. Of course I was there, and the President and his cabinet had arrived and were at the hotel. Soon after his arrival, as we were sitting around in the parlor, Mr. Lincoln looked thoughtful for a moment or two, and then said: ‘I believe, gentlemen, the committee are expecting me to say something here to-day. If you will excuse me I will go into this room here and prepare it.’ After a time he returned, holding in his hand a large, yellow government envelope, on which he had written his address.

“‘Here, gentlemen,’ he said, ‘I want to read this to you to see if it will do;’ and sitting down he read it to us, and then said: ‘Now for your criticisms. Will it do? What do you say?’

“Several spoke in favor of it, and one or two commended it in strong terms. ‘Well,’ says the President, ‘haven’t you any criticisms? What do you say Seward?’

“Mr. Seward made one or two suggestions, bearing on some slight verbal changes, which I believe Mr. Lincoln incorporated.

“‘Now if you will allow me, gentlemen,’ continued the President, ‘I will copy this off;’ and again withdrew and made a copy of the address.”



“Ladies and Gentlemen: Four score and seven years ago your fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that the nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

“But in a larger sense we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it far above our power to add to or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here; but it can never forget what they did here.

“It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that the government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”



Mr. Henry Watterson, the distinguished and scholarly editor of the widely-read Louisville Courier Journal, once delivered a lecture on “Lincoln.” The following is part of what he said:

“After he was inaugurated President, Mr. Lincoln evinced four great qualities of mind and heart so great indeed that it is doubtful if such a combination of kingly talents was ever before or since concentrated in the same man.” Mr. Watterson then elaborated from historical facts, incidents, and conclusions, as also from quotations from Mr. Lincoln’s speeches and letters, his direction and management of generals and cabinet officers, his knowledge of law, diplomacy, and military affairs, his firmness for the right, his great kindness of heart, and love of humanity, the following propositions:

1. Lincoln was the wisest ruler of this or any other age.

2. He had the firmness of the everlasting hills.

3. His love of justice and righteousness between man and man, and between nations guided him in all things.

4. His kindness of heart, and his sympathies for mankind were as an overflowing fountain.

5. Abraham Lincoln was raised up of God, and in a sense inspired for the place and work he fulfilled in the world.

“Perhaps the most striking illustration of superior wisdom and power as a ruler,” said the speaker, “was his reply to Mr.[61] Seward’s proposition to declare war against France and Spain, and impliedly against England and Russia, only one month after Lincoln’s inauguration. The reply was complete; so was his mastery over the most astute and scholarly statesman and diplomatist of the age. While preparing that reply, the same night after receiving Mr. Seward’s wonderful proposals,—a reply which the best critics of the world have declared needed not another word, and would not have been complete with one word lacking,—he was overheard repeating to himself audibly over and over, ‘One war at a time, one war at a time, one war at a time.’”


The great Horace Greeley was wont to criticize Lincoln’s plan of conducting the war. He finally wanted to know “what were the purposes and aims of the President, anyway?” The following is Lincoln’s reply, showing that his sole purpose was to save the Union at whatever cost.

“If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object is to save the Union, and not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it. If I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it, and if I could do it by freeing[62] some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery and the colored race I do because I believe it helps to save the Union, and what I forbear I forbear because I do not believe it helps to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe that what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I believe doing more will help the cause.”


When officious intermeddlers went to President Lincoln and demanded Gen. Grant’s removal from the command of the armies, charging that he was in the habit of getting drunk, Lincoln coolly asked them where he could get some of the brand of whisky that Grant was using; he wanted to supply it to his other generals. This remark of his silenced his callers, and he heard no more complaints about Grant getting drunk.


Mrs. Benjamin Price, of Baltimore, told, at a meeting of the Woman’s Literary Club of that city, two anecdotes of Abraham Lincoln. In one of them she said that her father-in-law had at one time been appointed to a government position in place of Mr. Addison, who was a most polished but notably plain-featured man. The two gentlemen went together to call upon President Lincoln, who received them cheerfully in the midst of the somewhat embarrassing operation of shaving. His[63] face was a lather of soap, he extended a hand to each, and upon Mr. Addison enumerating the good qualities of his successor, and congratulating the President upon securing so eminent an officer, Mr. Lincoln exclaimed:

“Yes, Addison, I have no doubt Mr. Price is all that you say, but nothing can compensate me for the loss of you, for when you retire I shall be the homeliest man in the employment of the government.”


One summer morning, shortly before the close of the civil war, the not unusual sight in Washington of an old veteran hobbling along could have been seen on a shady path that led from the executive mansion to the war office. The old man was in pain, and the pale, sunken cheeks and vague, far-away stare in his eyes betokened a short-lived existence. He halted a moment and then slowly approached a tall gentleman who was walking along. “Good morning, sir. I am an old soldier and would like to ask your advice.”

The gentleman turned, and smiling kindly, invited the poor old veteran to a seat under a shady tree. There he listened to the man’s story of how he had fought for the Union and was severely wounded, incapacitating him for other work in life, and begged directions how to apply for back pay due him and a pension, offering his papers for examination.


The gentleman looked over the papers and then took out a card and wrote directions on it, also a few words to the pension bureau, desiring that speedy attention be given to the applicant, and handed it to him.

The old soldier looked at it, and with tears in his eyes, thanked the tall gentleman, who, with a sad look, bade him good luck and hurried up the walk. Slowly the old soldier read the card again, and then turned it over to read the name of the owner. More tears welled in his eyes when he knew whom he had addressed himself to, and his lips muttered: “I am glad I fought for him and the country, for he never forgets. God bless Abraham Lincoln!”


President Lincoln, the man who said and did so many kindly things, taught Seward how to write state papers. He was not only master of the situation in this country, but when England and France were about combining to recognize the Confederacy he so won the admiration of Lord Lyon, the British ambassador at Washington, that that official informed Lord Russell that he was in error when he sent instructions to prepare the government for the recognition of the South by England, and Lord Lyon afterwards resigned his office in consequence of the opposition to Lincoln. At that time there was a Russian fleet in New York harbor under sealed instructions, to be opened[65] when France and England made their move, and the instructions were afterward found to be a command to the admiral to report to his excellency, President Lincoln.


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

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


“Liberty cannot long endure,” said Webster, “when the tendency is to concentrate wealth in the hands of a few.”

President Lincoln, in a message to Congress, said of this danger: “Monarchy itself[66] is sometimes hinted at as a possible refuge from the power of the people. In my present position I could scarcely be justified were I to omit raising a warning voice against approaching despotism. There is one point to which I ask a brief attention. It is the effort to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above, labor in the structure of the government. Let them beware of surrendering a political power which they already have, and which if surrendered will surely be used to close the door of advancement against such as they, and to fix new disabilities and burdens upon them till all liberty shall be lost.”


One day in May, 1863, while the great war was raging between the North and South, President Lincoln paid a visit to one of the military hospitals, says an exchange. He had spoken many cheering words of sympathy to the wounded as he proceeded through the various wards, and now he was at the bedside of a Vermont boy of about sixteen years of age, who lay there mortally wounded.

Taking the dying boy’s thin, white hands in his own, the President said, in a tender tone:

“Well, my poor boy, what can I do for you?”

The young fellow looked up into the President’s kindly face and asked: “Won’t you write to my mother for me?”


“That I will,” answered Mr. Lincoln; and calling for a pen, ink and paper, he seated himself by the side of the bed and wrote from the boy’s dictation. It was a long letter, but the President betrayed no sign of weariness. When it was finished, he rose, saying:

“I will post this as soon as I get back to my office. Now is there anything else I can do for you?”

The boy looked up appealingly to the President.

“Won’t you stay with me?” he asked. “I do want to hold on to your hand.”

Mr. Lincoln at once perceived the lad’s meaning. The appeal was too strong for him to resist; so he sat down by his side and took hold of his hand. For two hours the President sat there patiently as though he had been the boy’s father.

When the end came he bent over and folded the thin hands over his breast. As he did so he burst into tears, and when, soon afterward, he left the hospital, they were still streaming down his cheeks.


President Lincoln appointed as consul to a South American country a young man from Ohio who was a dandy. A wag met the new appointee on his way to the White House to thank the President. He was dressed in the most extravagant style. The wag horrified him by telling him that the country to which he was assigned was noted chiefly for the bugs that abounded there and made life unbearable.[68] “They’ll bore a hole clean through you before a week has passed,” was the comforting assurance of the wag as they parted at the White House steps. The new consul approached Lincoln with disappointment clearly written all over his face. Instead of joyously thanking the President, he told him the wag’s story of the bugs. “I am informed, Mr. President,” he said, “that the place is full of vermin and that they could eat me up in a week’s time.” “Well, young man,” replied Lincoln, “if that’s true all I’ve got to say is that if such a thing happened they would leave a mighty good suit of clothes behind.”


In his “Campaigning With Grant,” in the Century, Gen. Horace Porter told of Gen. Halleck’s fear of trouble from enforcing of the draft, and his desire that Grant should send troops to the Northern cities. Gen. Porter says:

On the evening of August 17 General Grant was sitting in front of his quarters, with several staff officers about him, when the telegraph operator came over from his tent and handed him a dispatch. He opened it, and as he proceeded with the reading of it his face became suffused with smiles. After he had finished it he broke into a hearty laugh. We were curious to know what could produce so much merriment in the general in the midst of the trying circumstances which surrounded him. He cast his eyes over the dispatch[69] again, and then remarked: “The President has more nerve than any of his advisers. This is what he says after reading my reply to Halleck’s dispatch.” He then read aloud to us the following:

“I have seen your dispatch expressing your unwillingness to break your hold where we are. Neither am I willing. Hold on with a bulldog grip, and chew and choke as much as possible.



Mr. Edward Rosewater, editor of the Omaha Bee, said he believed Lincoln got relaxation by his story telling, and that the hearing of a good story gave him the mental rest that he so much needed during those brain-taxing days. These stories came out under the most trying circumstances and at the most solemn times. A striking instance of this was just after the battle of Fredericksburg. After the Union armies were defeated an official who had seen the battle hurried to Washington. He reached there about midnight and went directly to the White House. President Lincoln had not yet retired, and the man was at once received. Lincoln had already heard some reports of the battle. He was feeling very sad and rested his head upon his hands while the story was repeated to him. As the man saw his intense suffering he remarked:

“I wish, Mr. President, that I might be a messenger of good news instead of bad. I wish I could tell you how to conquer or to get rid of those rebellious States.”


At this President Lincoln looked up and a smile came across his face as he said: “That reminds me of two boys out in Illinois who took a short cut across an orchard. When they were in the middle of the field they saw a vicious dog bounding toward them. One of the boys was sly enough to climb a tree, but the other ran around the tree, with the dog following. He kept running until, by making smaller circles than it was possible for his pursuer to make, he gained upon the dog sufficiently to grasp his tail. He held on to the tail with a desperate grip until nearly exhausted, when he called to the boy up the tree to come down and help.

“What for?” said the boy.

“I want you to help me let this dog go.”

“Now,” concluded President Lincoln, “if I could only let the rebel States go it would be all right. But I am compelled to hold on to them and make them stay.”


Lincoln’s indebtedness, in consequence of the closing out of his general store at New Salem, was such that it took him many years to extinguish all. There was one man among his creditors who would not wait, but secured a judgment against Lincoln and his personal effects were levied upon. Among them was his surveying instrument on which he depended for his living. At the sale a farmer friend of Lincoln’s named James Short bought the horse and surveying instruments for[71] $120 and generously turned them over to their former owner. This kindness deeply touched the future President of the United States, who, some years later, repaid with interest the money so kindly advanced by Mr. Short.

Thirty years later, while Lincoln was President, he heard that James Short was living in California. Financial reverses had overtaken him some years previously and he left his home near New Salem and emigrated with his family to the State on the Pacific Ocean. One day Mr. Short received a letter from Washington informing him that he had been appointed an Indian agent. It will thus be seen that Lincoln never forgot a benefactor.


Abraham Lincoln had a heart that was full of mercy; he could not bear to see even an animal suffer, and would not tolerate any wanton cruelty to animals. There are numerous instances of his mercifulness, but the following story will serve to show how kindly disposed the man was:

One day the major-general commanding the forces in and around Washington, came to the office of Mr. Dana with a spy whom one of his men had captured. Mr. Dana was assistant secretary of war. The officer informed Mr. Dana that the spy had been tried by court-martial and had been sentenced to death. He handed Mr. Dana the warrant for his execution, which was to take place at six o’clock the following morning. The warrant must be signed by the President, or in his absence by[72] some officer with authority to sign it. President Lincoln was absent from Washington at that time and was not expected back before the afternoon of the next day. It therefore became necessary for Mr. Dana to sign the warrant for the execution of the spy, in accordance with the decision of the court. But President Lincoln got home at two o’clock in the early morning and on learning of the affair at once stopped the whole thing and thus spared the man’s life. It may be here stated that the law of nations in regard to the punishment of spies when captured is death.


When the Prince of Wales was betrothed to the Princess Alexandria, Queen Victoria sent a letter to every sovereign of Europe, and to President Lincoln, announcing the fact. The ambassador of England then at Washington was Lord Lyons, and he was a bachelor. He requested an audience with President Lincoln in order that he might present the important letter in person.

He called at the White House in company with Secretary Seward and addressed the President as follows:

“May it please your Excellency, I hold in my hand an autograph letter from my royal mistress, Queen Victoria, which I have been commanded to present to your Excellency. In it she informs your Excellency that her son, his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, is about to contract a matrimonial alliance with her Royal[73] Highness the Princess Alexandria of Denmark.”

After the use of such diplomatic and high-sounding language one would naturally suppose Lincoln would require a few moments to collect his thoughts and reply in kind. Not so, however. His reply was short, simple and expressive, as follows:

“Lord Lyons, go thou and do likewise.”

A witness of the above incident said: “It is doubtful if an English ambassador was ever addressed in this manner before, and it would be interesting to learn what success he met with in putting the reply in diplomatic language, when he reported it to her Majesty.”—From Lincoln’s Stories, by J. B. McClure.


At the time when the Union soldiers were hunting for Jeff Davis, some one asked the President: “Mr. Lincoln, suppose they were to find Davis, and, in order to capture him, it was necessary to shoot him. Would you want them to do so?”

Mr. Lincoln said: “When I was a boy, a man lecturing on temperance stayed at our house over night. It was a cold, stormy night, and the man was quite chilled when he reached home after the meeting. He said if they would give him a hot lemonade he thought it would prevent his taking cold. Some one suggested that some spirits added would be beneficial. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘you might put in some unbeknown to me!’”



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

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

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


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

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


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

The man, greatly startled, looked around and replied:

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

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


A clergyman of some prominence was one day presented to Lincoln, who gave the visitor a chair and said, with an air of patient waiting:

“I am now ready to hear what you have to say.”

“Oh, bless you, sir,” replied the clergyman, “I have nothing special to say. I merely called to pay my respects.”

“My dear sir,” said the President, rising promptly, his face showing instant relief, and with both hands grasping that of his visitor; “I am very glad to see you, indeed. It is a relief to find a clergyman, or any other man, for that matter, who has nothing to say. I thought you had come to preach to me.”


Considering his own personality Lincoln was very indifferent. He was perfectly aware that many people talked about his “awkwardness” and homely personal appearance. Far from feeling hurt at the remarks occasionally flung at him he rather enjoyed them.


One day he was traveling in a train. He was addressed, without any formal introduction, by a stranger in the car, who said:

“Excuse me, sir, but I have an article in my possession which belongs to you.”

“How is that?” Lincoln inquired, much surprised.

The stranger took a jackknife from his pocket.

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

Lincoln related the above story to his friends again and again during his lifetime.—From Lincoln’s Stories, by J. B. McClure.


Lincoln had the following good story on President Tyler:

“During Mr. Tyler’s incumbency of the office he arranged to make an excursion in some direction and sent his son, ‘Bob,’ to arrange for a special train. It happened that the railroad superintendent was a strong Whig. As such he had no favors to bestow upon the President and informed Bob that the road did not run any special trains for the President.

“‘What,’ said Bob Tyler, ‘did you not furnish a special for the funeral of Gen. Harrison?’

“‘Yes,’ said the superintendent, ‘and if you’ll bring your father in that condition[77] you shall have the best train on the road.’”


During the war an Austrian count applied to President Lincoln for a position in the army. He was introduced by the Austrian Minister, but as if fearing that his importance might not be duly appreciated, he proceeded to explain his nobility and high standing. With a merry twinkle in his eye, Mr. Lincoln laid his hand on the count’s shoulder and said:

“Never mind: you shall be treated with just as much consideration for all that.”


Abraham Lincoln once received a letter asking for a “sentiment” and his autograph. He replied: “Dear Madam: When you ask a stranger for that which is of interest only to yourself always inclose a stamp. Abraham Lincoln.”


It is not generally known that Abraham Lincoln sent a substitute to the war against the South, but such is a fact. During the earlier days of the war it seems to have been the desire of all prominent men in Washington to have a representative in the ranks, and Lincoln was no exception to the rule. At that time there was a minister named Staples in Washington, one of whose sons, then aged nineteen, had a desire to go to the front. Lincoln heard of him, and after a conference selected him as his representative, and[78] he proved worthy, for he won honor on the field. He survived the war and finally died in Stroudsburg. The inscription on the stone over his grave reads as follows: “J. Summerfield Staples, a private of Company C, One Hundred and Seventy-sixth Regiment, P. V. Also a member of the Second regiment, D. C. Vols., as a substitute for Abraham Lincoln.”—Philadelphia Record.


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

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


At a time when the war crisis was at its height one of those persons who were ever ready to give the President free advice on how to conduct the war, had just finished explaining an elaborate idea, when Mr. Lincoln remarked:

“That reminds me of a man in Illinois, who, in driving the hoops of a hogshead[79] to ‘head it up,’ was much annoyed by the constant falling in of the top. At length a bright idea struck him of putting his little boy inside to hold it up. This he did. But when the job was completed there arose the more serious question, how to get the boy out of the hogshead. Your plan sounds feasible, but how are you to get the boy out?”


In the March “Ladies’ Home Journal” Stephen Fiske graphically recalls the excitement and apprehension and the condition of the country “When Lincoln Was First Inaugurated.” He tells the incidents of the memorable journey to the capitol, of Mr. Lincoln’s reception, and gives a rather grewsome picture of the inaugural ceremonies. “As I walked up to the capitol the wide, dusty streets were already crowded,” he writes; “regular troops were posted at intervals along Pennsylvania avenue. Sharpshooters were climbing over the roofs of the houses. A mounted officer at every corner was ready to report to General Scott the passage of the procession. Detectives in plain clothes squirmed through the masses of people. The policemen had been instructed to arrest for ‘disorderly conduct’ any person who called Mr. Lincoln an opprobrious name or uttered a disloyal sentiment. There was much suppressed excitement, and the prophetic word ‘assassination’ was in every mind.

“President Buchanan, whose term expired at noon, was engaged until half an[80] hour later in signing the bills that had been hurriedly passed, but the congressional clock had been put back to legalize the transaction. At last he drove down to Willard’s, and the procession was formed. The President and President-elect rode in an open barouche; but this confidence in the people was more apparent than real. On the front seat were Senators Baker and Pearce; a guard of honor of the regular cavalry surrounded the carriage; beyond were mounted marshals four files deep. From the sidewalks no one could accurately distinguish Mr. Lincoln. Close behind marched regiments of regulars and marines, fully armed. It seemed more like escorting a prisoner to his doom than a President to his inauguration. Little cheering and no enthusiasm greeted the procession. Every now and then an arrest for ‘disorderly conduct’ was quickly and quietly made in the crowd. The sunshine was bright, but the whole affair was as gloomy as if Mr. Lincoln were riding through an enemy’s country—as, indeed, he was.”


Secretary Sherman says he never will forget his first meeting with a President. It was shortly after Lincoln’s inauguration, and he attended a public reception, fell into line, and awaited an hour or two for a chance to shake hands with the Great Emancipator.


“During this time,” says Mr. Sherman, “I was wondering what I should say and what Lincoln would do when we met. At last it came my turn to be presented. Lincoln looked at me a moment, extended his hand, and said: ‘You’re a pretty tall fellow, aren’t you? Stand up here with me, back to back, and let’s see which is the taller.’

“In another moment I was standing back to back with the greatest man of his age. Naturally I was quite abashed by this unexpected evidence of democracy.

“‘You’re from the West, aren’t you,’ inquired Lincoln.

“‘My home is in Ohio,’ I replied.

“‘I thought so,’ he said; ‘that’s the kind of men they raise out there.’”


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

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


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

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

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

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


It was during Lincoln’s second inauguration as President of the United States that he gave voice to these famous and oft-quoted words:

“With malice toward none,
With charity for all.”

The above occur in the last paragraph in his second inaugural speech, delivered at Washington, D. C., March 4, 1865.


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

Years afterward, when Mr. Lincoln had become President, a soldier came to call on him at the White House. At the first glance the Chief Executive said: “Yes, I remember; you used to live on the Danville[83] road. I took dinner with you when I was running for the Legislature. I recollect that we stood talking out at the barnyard gate, while I sharpened my jackknife.”

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

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

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

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


We had been talking of the war, and the late Governor Curtin, of Pennsylvania, broke out suddenly and said:

“It was just after the battle of Fredericksburg. I had been down there and came up to Washington by the night[84] boat. I arrived at the foot of Seventh street a little after midnight. Just as I landed a messenger met me, saying that the President wanted to see me at once at the White House. I took a carriage and went directly there. I sent in my card, and word came back that the President had retired, but that he requested me to come up to his bedroom. I found him in bed, and as I entered the room he reached out his hand, shook hands, and said:

“‘Well, Governor; so you have been down to the battle-field?’

“‘Battle-field? Slaughter-pen! It was a terrible slaughter, Mr. Lincoln.’ I was sorry in a moment, that I had said it, for he groaned, and began to wring his hands and took on with terrible agony of spirits. He sat up on the edge of the bed, and moaned and groaned in anguish. He walked the floor of the room, and uttered exclamations of grief, one after another, and I remember his saying over and over again: ‘What has God put me in this place for?’ I tried to comfort him, and could hardly forgive myself for not being more careful and considerate of his feelings.”


“Speaking of Lincoln’s birthday,” said Senator Palmer yesterday, “reminds me that the very last case Lincoln ever tried was one in which I, too, was engaged. It was in Springfield, in June, 1860, after Mr. Lincoln had received the Presidential[85] nomination. Old David Baker, who had been a Senator in the early days, had sued the trustees of Shurtleff College, my alma mater, for expelling his grandson, a lad named Will Gilbert. Mr. Lincoln appeared for the prosecution. I was the college attorney. Mr. Lincoln came into court and the Judge said to him: ‘Mr. Lincoln, I’ll argue this case for you. You have too much on your hands already. You haven’t any case.’ And he explained the law and application.

“‘Well,’ said Mr. Lincoln, with a smile, ‘don’t you want to hear a speech from me?’

“‘No,’ said the Judge, and the last case Mr. Lincoln tried he—well, he didn’t try it at all.”

“The first time I met Mr. Lincoln was in 1839, when I went to Springfield to be admitted to the bar. He was already recognized as a Whig leader. He wore, I remember, a suit of linsey woolsey, that could not have been worth more than $8 even in those days. The last time I saw him was in February of 1865. I had come to Washington at the request of the Governor, to complain that Illinois had been credited with 18,000 too few troops. I saw Mr. Lincoln one afternoon, and he asked me to come again in the morning.

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

“‘Come in, Palmer,’ he called out, ‘come[86] in. You’re home folks. I can shave before you. I couldn’t before those others, and I have to do it some time.’

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

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

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

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

“Lincoln was not an eloquent man. He was a strong lawyer, and an ingenious one. His stronghold was his ability to reason logically and clearly. He was a very self-contained man, and not easily excited. I remember the night when the news of his election was received at Springfield. The patriotic ladies of the town were serving a lunch in an upper room opposite the capitol. Mr. Lincoln was there, and read the returns as they were brought to him. The returns from New York decided the day. Mr. Lincoln stood up and read the telegram. He was the calmest man in the[87] room. When he had finished he said, simply, ‘Well I must go and tell my wife.’”


Lincoln was an orator as well as a statesman and many of his speeches will go down in history through all time. In his second inaugural address he made use of the following striking expressions:

“On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the Nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish; and the war came. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayer of both could not be answered. That of another has been answered fully. With malice towards none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us finish the work we are in, to bind up the Nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphans, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and with all Nations.”

Eloquent, is it not? Beautiful, is it not?[88] And yet there is not a word in it that a child could not understand. Lincoln’s English was like himself, simple, forcible, direct, natural, eloquent, full of heart-throbs. As his unadorned language still stirs the heart of every American like the roll of a drum, and as beside it the tinsels, and flowers, and gewgaws of polished speech are but as pulseless marble, so the rugged nature of America’s greatest man looms above all lesser public men, the spotless, genius-crowned Shasta of our National history.


This story well illustrates Lincoln’s humanity of character which found expression in his famous words of “charity for all, and malice toward none.” It appears that Mr. Shrigley, of Philadelphia, a Universalist, had been nominated for hospital chaplain. A protesting delegation went to Washington to see President Lincoln on the subject. The following was the interview:

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

The President responded: “Oh, yes, gentlemen. I have sent his name to the Senate, and he will no doubt be confirmed at an early date.”

One of the young men replied: “We have not come to ask for the appointment, but to solicit you to withdraw the nomination.”


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

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

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

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

“Is that so?” inquired the President.

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

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

It is almost needless to add that Mr. Shrigley was appointed, and served until the close of the war.


At a banquet given in his honor on Washington’s birthday, in New York, February 22, 1897, the eloquent and gifted Chauncey M. Depew made the following comparison between America’s two greatest heroes:

“This February, for the first time, both Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays have been made legal holidays. Never since the creation of man were two human beings so unlike, so nearly the extremes of opposition to each other, as Washington and Lincoln. The one an aristocrat[90] by birth, by breeding, and association, the other in every sense and by every surrounding a democrat. As the richest man in America, a large slave-holder, the possessor of an enormous landed estate, and the leader and representative of the property, the culture, and the colleges of the colonial period, Washington stood for the conservation and preservation of law and order.

“And yet millionaire, slaveholder and aristocrat, in its best sense, that he was, as he lived, so at any time he would have died for the immortal principle put by the Puritans in their charter, adopted in the cabin of the Mayflower, reënacted in the Declaration of Independence, of the equality of all men before the law and of the equal opportunity for all to rise. Lincoln, on the other hand, was born in a cabin, among that class known as poor whites in slaveholding times, who held no position and whose condition was so helpless as to paralyze ambition and effort. His situation so far as his surroundings were concerned had considerable mental but little moral improvement by the removal to Indiana and subsequently to Illinois.

“Anywhere in the Old World a man born amidst such environments and teachings, and possessed of unconquerable energy and ambition and the greatest powers of eloquence and constructive statesmanship, would have been a Socialist and the leader of a social revolt. He might have been an Anarchist. His one[91] ambition would have been to break the crust above him and shatter it to pieces. He would see otherwise no opportunity for himself and his fellows in social or political or professional life. But Lincoln attained from the log cabin of the poor white in the wilderness the same position which Washington reached from his palatial mansion and baronial estate on the Potomac; he made the same fight unselfishly, patriotically, and grandly for the preservation of the republic that Washington had done for its creation and foundation. Widely as they are separated, these two heroes of the two great crises of our national life stand together in representing the solvent powers, the inspiring processes, and the hopeful opportunities of American liberty.”


A stair-carpenter happened to see a picture of the martyred President. Instantly the tones of his voice softened, his eyes grew moist with tears, and the whole expression of his face changed.

Then he told us his “story of Lincoln.” He had been shot through the lungs when on picket in ’63, and was in the hospital at Fortress Monroe.

For weeks he had been lying there, till he had grown dreadfully homesick, and felt as if the only thing that could cure him was to get home to Maryland.

One morning Lincoln visited the hospital, and as he was passing around, pausing before each cot to speak a word of cheer to each wounded soldier, this one[92] made up his mind that if he gave him a chance, he would make known his wants.

At last his turn came.

“You seem very comfortable, my friend,” Lincoln said.

“Not so comfortable as I should be if I could get home to Maryland,” was the reply.

“What is your name?”

“S. Stover, Co. H, 2d Maryland Volunteers,” was promptly answered, and Lincoln passed on.

In just three days came an order from the President to transfer Private Stover, Co. H, 2d Md. Vols., by water to the hospital at Annapolis.

“I was surprised myself,” he said; “for I had watched him as long as he was in sight, and when I saw him go through the door without writing down my name and company, I gave up all hope of seeing my Maryland again.

“And it has always been a mystery to me that a man with so much to think of should keep in mind the name, regiment and company of a private soldier.”

As he turned away to conceal the tears he could not keep back, it was plain how large a place the thoughtful kindness of that great man had won in the heart of the poor, homesick, wounded soldier.


It was President Lincoln’s intense love for his fellow men that led him to disapprove of the findings of court-martial, whenever there was a possible excuse, particularly in the cases of soldiers[93] charged with desertion, with having fallen asleep at a post of duty, or with other offenses.

Secretary Stanton always insisted upon the strictest discipline in the army and frequently urged that derelict soldiers receive the severest punishment of military law and custom, but Lincoln rarely took any advice on such matters. He had meditated deeply on that subject and consulted his own judgment in disposing of cases of that kind that came before him.

The late Joseph Holt, who recently died at Washington, was judge advocate general of the army during the whole period of the war and it became his duty to report many cases of alleged cowardice of soldiers as well as other offenses. President Lincoln carefully read every line of the charges against such men, and as soon as he saw the slightest chance to excuse the poor fellow, a gleam of satisfaction would pass over his serious face. Then folding the papers together he placed them in a pigeon hole of his desk, and with his big eyes looking into those of the judge advocate standing before him, he would say:

“Holt, we will let those soldiers go. Order them set free.”

It was after the battle of Chancellorsville that charges were brought against several men for failing to march with their regiments into the fight at a time when they were most needed. The charge of desertion was made.

When Secretary Stanton heard of these cases he commanded Judge Holt to present[94] the charges against the men to the President in the strongest possible terms.

“We need stronger discipline in the army,” said the stern secretary of war to the judge advocate. “The time has come when the President must yield to our opinion.”

Judge Holt was himself one of the ablest lawyers of his day, and had won fame as a forensic orator long before the war.

“In presenting these cases,” said he to the writer a few months before his death, “in obedience to the wish of the secretary of war, I used all the legal acumen at my command. One morning, with my papers all ready (and I was deeply in earnest in the matter), I proceeded to the White House; and, as I entered his private office, the President looked up with his long, sad face, saying:

“‘Ah! Holt, what have you there?’

“‘I have some important cases for your careful consideration, Mr. President, with documentary evidence sufficient to condemn every man.’

“He took the papers and read them carefully, stopping at times to reflect, then read on until he finished. There was no change in his countenance this time, unless that it grew more sad and his expression more serious. I had covered the cases in question with strong and convincing argument and evidence. He finally raised his eyes from the last paper and gazed intently through the window at some object across the Potomac. Then,[95] rising from his chair, with the papers all folded together, he placed them in a pigeon hole already filled with similar documents. With his tall, gaunt form facing me, he spoke, in deep, sad tones, that would have touched the heart of the sternest officer of the army:

“‘Holt (it was his custom to mention only the last name), you acknowledge those men have a previous record for bravery. It is not the first time they have faced danger; and they shall not be shot for this one offense.’

“I then thought it was my duty as the head of my department of military justice to make further argument. For I knew Stanton would nearly explode with rage when he heard of the President’s decision. I began to speak and Lincoln sat down again, giving me his closest attention. Then, rising from his chair and riveting his eyes upon me, he said:

“‘Holt, were you ever in battle?’

“‘I have never been.’

“‘Did Stanton ever march in the first line, to be shot at by an enemy like those men did?’

“‘I think not, Mr. President.’

“‘Well, I tried it in the Black Hawk war, and I remember one time I grew awful weak in the knees when I heard the bullets whistle around me and saw the enemy in front of me. How my legs carried me forward I cannot now tell, for I thought every minute that I would sink to the ground. The men against whom those charges have been made probably[96] were not able to march into battle. Who knows that they were able? I am opposed to having soldiers shot for not facing danger when it is not known that their legs would carry them into danger. Send this dispatch ordering them to be set free.’ And they were set free that day.”


The Lincoln apotheosis is much more satisfactory than the Napoleon apotheosis. Lincoln is not only our own, but a greater, purer, sweeter, really stronger man than Napoleon. It is a good thing to bring out the little-known portraits of Lincoln. What a marvelous face! It is full of strength—with just enough of the big child in it to kindle love and sympathy. Has anyone ever noticed the way in which Lincoln’s face is cast on the lines of the North American Indian? We have never heard that Lincoln had Indian blood in him; but take any of his good, beardless portraits, with front or nearly front view; add to it a shock of straight hair parted in the middle and falling down, either straight or in two braids, on the shoulders; add a feather to it; clothe the body in a blanket and let it take an Indian stoop; and no one would question that the man was an aborigine. The face has the gravity of the Indian countenance, but not the impassiveness that we read about; but Indian faces, after all, are seldom impassive. The face of Lincoln, who was not an Indian, has more of the aborigine in it than of that other great President, Benito Juarez, who was an Indian.



The raid made by the Confederate general, J. E. B. Stuart, in June, 1862, around the Union army commanded by General McClellan, caused great anxiety in Washington. One of its results was the interruption of communication between the capital and the army of the Potomac. What this portended no one could affirm. That it suggested the gravest possibilities was felt by all.

While this feeling was dominating all circles, several gentlemen, myself among them, called on President Lincoln in order to be definitely advised about the condition of affairs as understood by him.

To our question: “Mr. President, have you any news from the army?” he sadly replied: “Not one word; we can get no communication with it. I do not know that we have an army; it may have been destroyed or captured, though I cannot so believe, for it was a splendid army. But the most I can do now is to hope that serious disaster has not befallen it.”

This led to a somewhat protracted conversation relative to the general condition of our affairs. It was useless to talk about the Army of the Potomac; for we knew nothing concerning its condition or position at that moment. The conversation therefore took a wide range and touched upon the subject of slavery, about which much was said.

The President did not participate in this conversation. He was an attentive listener, but gave no sign of approval or disapproval[98] of the views which were expressed. At length one of the active participants remarked:

“Slavery must be stricken down wherever it exists in this country. It is right that it should be. It is a crime against justice and humanity. We have tolerated it too long. It brought war upon us. I believe that Providence is not unmindful of the struggle in which this nation is engaged. If we do not do right I believe God will let us go our own way to our ruin. But, if we do right, I believe He will lead us safely out of this wilderness, crown our arms with victory, and restore our now dissevered Union.”

I observed President Lincoln closely while this earnest opinion and expression of religious faith was being uttered. I saw that it affected him deeply, and anticipated, from the play of his features and the sparkle of his eyes, that he would not let the occasion pass without making some definite response to it. I was not mistaken. Mr. Lincoln had been sitting in his chair, in a kind of weary and despondent attitude while the conversation progressed. At the conclusion of the remarks I have quoted, he at once arose and stood at his extreme height. Pausing a moment, his right arm outstretched towards the gentleman who had just ceased speaking, his face aglow like the face of a prophet, Mr. Lincoln gave deliberate and emphatic utterance to the religious faith which sustained him in the great trial to which he and the country were subjected.[99] He said: “My faith is greater than yours. I not only believe that Providence is not unmindful of the struggle in which this nation is engaged; that if we do not do right God will let us go our own way to our ruin; and that if we do right He will lead us safely out of this wilderness, crown our arms with victory, and restore our dissevered union, as you have expressed your belief; but I also believe that He will compel us to do right in order that He may do these things, not so much because we desire them as that they accord with His plans of dealing with this nation, in the midst of which He means to establish justice. I think He means that we shall do more than we have yet done in furtherance of His plans, and He will open the way for our doing it. I have felt His hand upon me in great trials and submitted to His guidance, and I trust that as He shall further open the way I will be ready to walk therein, relying on His help and trusting in His goodness and wisdom.”—From “Some Memories of Lincoln,” by ex-Senator James F. Wilson, in North American Review.


The very last words Lincoln delivered on the afternoon before the assassination—last of those great utterances that for six or seven years electrified and enlightened half the world—were a message of suggestion and encouragement to the miners of the Rockies. Schuyler Colfax was going thither and was paying his final[100] call at the White House. Lincoln said to him:

“Mr. Colfax, I want you to take a message from me to the miners whom you visit. I have very large ideas of the mineral wealth of our nation. I believe it is practically inexhaustible. It abounds all over the western country, from the Rocky mountains to the Pacific, and its development has scarcely commenced. During the war, when we were adding a couple of million dollars every day to our national debt, I did not care about encouraging the increase in the volume of our precious metals; we had the country to save first. But now that the rebellion is overthrown, and we know pretty nearly the amount of our national debt, the more gold and silver we mine, we make the payment of that debt so much easier. Now, I am going to encourage that in every possible way. We shall have hundreds of thousands of disbanded soldiers, and many have feared that their return home in such great numbers might paralyze industry by furnishing suddenly a greater supply of labor than there will be a demand for. I am going to try to attract them to the hidden wealth of our mountain ranges, where there is room enough for all. Immigration, which even the war has not stopped, will land upon our shores hundreds of thousands more from over-crowded Europe. I intend to point them to the gold and silver that wait for them in the West. Tell the miners for me, that I shall promote their interests to the best[101] of my ability, because their prosperity is the prosperity of the nation; and we shall prove in a few years that we are indeed the treasury of the world.”


Mr. George C. Read, of Chicago, at the time of President Lincoln’s assassination, was a foot orderly under Generals Griffin and Ayers. He was in Washington on the fateful April 14, 1865, and was an eyewitness to the tragedy. He tells of it as follows:

“Some time in the latter part of March, 1865, I was sent to Washington on account of the loss of my voice. I remained there most of the time in barracks on east Capitol Hill. On the afternoon of the fated April 14, 1865, I happened in the saloon next door to Ford’s Theater to see the barkeeper, one Jim Peck. While standing near a stove about the center of the room three men came into the place laughing and talking loudly. They all went to the end of the bar nearest the door and ordered a drink. One was a tall, handsome fellow, dressed in the latest fashionable clothes, if I remember rightly, and the others appeared like workmen of some kind. Both were carelessly dressed, and I think one was in his shirt sleeves. They had their drink, and then the fine-looking man turned toward where I was standing and said, ‘Come up, soldier, and have a drink.’ I declined, for the reason that I had not at that time become addicted to the habit of social drinking. He[102] then approached me and took me by the arm and said, ‘Have something; take a cigar.’ This I did not refuse, and he put his hand in his vest pocket and, pulling out a cigar, handed it to me without any further remarks. He then returned to his companions at the bar. They remained, if I remember correctly, about five minutes after, and then, all laughing at something that Peck said, left the place. As soon as they were gone I asked Peck who the big man was, and he said that he was an actor—one of the Booth family—John Wilkes Booth. I had heard of him before, but paid no further attention to it except to remark that he seemed to be in a happy frame of mind, when Peck stated that he was on a ‘drunk,’ and associated with the stage mechanics in the theater all the time.

“As I was about to depart, little thinking what history would develop in a few short hours, Peck asked me to accept a couple of tickets to the theater for that night. I was glad to get them, having no money to purchase the same, and knowing that the President would be at the play. Later I found a young man, like myself, broke, and invited him to accompany me to the play. We were on hand early, and, having good reserved seats about the center of the house, were elated over our good luck.

“Suffice it to say that the curtain went up and ‘Our American Cousin’ was introduced. I was intently interested and cannot remember positively what act it was that was on, except what is told in history,[103] when I heard a shot, and immediately a man appeared at the front of the President’s box and, without waiting, jumped to the stage beneath. I, as well as all others in the theater, was astonished. He ran to about the center of the stage and raised his left hand and said something I did not catch, and then disappeared behind the wings. As soon as I saw him I recognized the handsome man I had seen in the saloon that afternoon, and turned to my comrade and said: ‘That’s Wilkes Booth, the actor, and I think he is on a drunk.’ Before I had finished even this a cry went up that the President had been shot, ‘Stop that man!’ and many other exclamations I have forgotten. It was all done so quickly that one had hardly time to think. Immediately the audience rose as one person and cries were heard all over the house, ‘Stop that man!’ ‘The President has been assassinated!’ and many others. The people began to crush each other and try to get out of the theater, but they were quieted to a certain extent and the provost guard on duty there fought to make them keep their places. Soon there was a movement on the side aisle running from the President’s box, and from where I was standing on my seat I could see what appeared to be a party of men carrying some one. Later the rest of the party were conducted out of the theater, and when I managed to get outside I saw a crowd looking up at a house opposite. On asking what it meant, I was told that the President had been carried[104] there and was dying. I lost my comrade in the crowd and have never met him since.

“It is unnecessary to go into any more details of what occurred that night. I was excited, as well as every one else in the city, and got little rest. But that is my experience, told as briefly as possible, without any stretch of imagination. If I had to do with the same again I think it would have been better if I had told the officials what I saw that afternoon, but, as it was, all came out right, and the really guilty ones suffered the penalty of their crime. I met Peck the next year in New York City, but have never heard of or seen him since.”


An interesting and valuable relic, which brings vividly to the mind the historic scene in Ford’s Theater, Washington, on the night of April 14, 1865, is owned by Colonel James S. Case, at one time a resident of Philadelphia, but whose home is now in Brooklyn.

It is only a play bill, but upon it is a discoloration made by a tiny drop of President Lincoln’s blood. It was picked up just after the tragedy by John T. Ford, the manager of the theater. He found it on the floor of the box where it had fallen from the President’s hand when the bullet of Assassin Booth pierced his head. It lay beneath the chair in which the citizen-hero received his death wound. There was a tiny spot of blood, still red as it came[105] from the great heart of Lincoln, on the edge.

Mr. Ford carried the precious paper home, and only parted with it at the request of the late A. K. Browne of Washington, who was a warm personal friend of the manager. It came into Mr. Browne’s possession while the nation was still mourning for its idol, and soon after his assassin had met justly merited fate at the hands of Sergeant Boston Corbett.

The play bill is somewhat yellow from age, but otherwise in an excellent state of preservation. The bloodstain is now a dark brown. The program was of “Our American Cousin,” which was being given for the benefit of Laura Keene. The bloodstain is nearly half way down the program, opposite the names of John Dyott, and Harry Hawk, Miss Keene’s leading support.


When President Lincoln was assassinated on the night of April 14, 1865, while witnessing a play at Ford’s Theater in Washington, he was removed to the Peterson house, which was directly opposite the theater.

The late John T. Ford related that he had occasion to visit John Wilkes Booth at the Peterson house once. The Davenport-Wallack combination was playing “Julius Cæsar” at Ford’s theater. Booth had been cast to play Marc Antony and was late in coming to rehearsal. Ford[106] went over to the house to ask him to hurry up. He found Booth lying in bed studying his lines. He little dreamed then that Lincoln would so shortly die in the same house, the same room and on that identical bed, or that Booth would turn out to be his assassin.


When Lincoln went to Washington he had a sale of the furniture of the Eighth street home at Springfield. Most of the articles were bought by a well-to-do family named Tilton, who admired the President in such a way as to make what had belonged to him things to be treasured. When the troops passed through Springfield to the front they visited the house “where Uncle Abe had lived,” and the Tiltons used to confer great favor by permitting the boys in blue to sit down in the dining room and have a glass of milk off the table from which Mr. Lincoln had eaten many times. But the Tiltons moved away to Chicago. They carried with them the furniture which had been in the Lincoln house, prizing it more than ever after his death. In 1871 came the Chicago fire, and with it went not only the Lincoln furniture, but the original document, which, if it were in existence now, would be preserved with the zeal that guards the Declaration of Independence—the Proclamation of Emancipation. The draft of the proclamation had been sent to Chicago to be exhibited for some purpose and was burned in that fire.



“No other public man has been subjected to such scrutiny from the time he was born until the end of his tragic career as was Lincoln,” said Mr. Griffiths in a lecture. “He obtained his early education from ‘Æsop’s Fables,’ ‘Robinson Crusoe,’ the ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ and a copy of the Indiana statutes. This was before some of our later legislatures had made their records or his education might have been marred instead of made.

“When he was elected President,” Mr. Griffiths continued, “he was a plodding country lawyer whose library consisted of twenty-two volumes. Through his public addresses he blazed his way to the Presidency. He believed the position of a stump speaker to be one of sacred trust. He had none of the platform graces. His figure was ungainly; his voice was rasping. He always made the most careful preparation and gave his best thought to the smallest audiences. He had marvelous gift of expression and he knew more about the Bible than Webster. He was not learned in the law and he despised the legal routine. On a lawsuit he always dealt in the unexpected, which greatly discomfited the opposing lawyer. He liked stories, but he always told them to illustrate a point. He was a deeply religious man.”


“Into the story of the republic from 1861 to 1865 the patriot does well to enter, there to find for instruction and example[108] the manliest of Americans, the highest type of Americanism, the central figure of the century, Abraham Lincoln. The fierce partisanship which assailed him during his short period of leadership became silent at his death, and each succeeding year but serves to exalt his work and character.

“The judgment of time has already shown to be colossal him who was called common—the honor that we offer to his memory is only the spontaneous tribute of contemporary history—our enthusiasm is but the sum of the world’s calmest thinking. For years in all lands gifted speech has proclaimed his deeds and the pens of poets have sketched his life. Thus does he receive his tribute from the people.

“In his mentality Lincoln shone in justice, common sense, consistency, persistence, and knowledge of men. In his words he was candid and frank, but accurate and concise, speaking strong Anglo-Saxon unadorned—powerful in its simplicity. In his sentiments he was kind, patriotic, and brave. No leader ever combined more completely the graces of gentleness with rugged determination. In his morals truth was his star, honesty the vital essence of his life.

“In his religion he was faithful as a saint. Providence was his stay and he walked with God. As President his life and deeds were a constant sermon. Love of men and faith in God were the fundamental elements of his character. Poverty had schooled him to pity and taught him[109] the equality of all mankind.”—Luther Laflin Mills.


Lincoln’s forefathers were independent owners of the land they trod on, barons, not serfs. You will say, perhaps, that Lincoln had little education. We are apt to say that of our great men. Lincoln knew how to speak, read and write. What more do we teach our boys to-day? He knew the Bible, which cannot be said of everybody in Boston. He read Burns, and this with the Bible gave him his inspiration and sentiment. Æsop and “Pilgrim’s Progress” taught him aptness and pregnant illustration.

The incidents of his life were few but notable. He was a resident of three states before he was 21, and made a river trip to New Orleans, longer than Thomas Jefferson had taken at his age. At New Orleans he saw for the first time the auction and whipping of slaves, which made so deep an impression on him that it may be said to be the birth of his anti-slavery sentiment.

The choice of Mr. Lincoln for President was not a strained one. He was the logical selection. Lincoln’s qualities, that sympathy with the common people, that homely sincerity, have given him a place in the people’s hearts a little closer, a little dearer, than is held by any other public man. He had faults, but they were small compared with his virtues. He had not Washington’s grandeur, the mental alertness of Hamilton, or the intellectual[110] force of Webster. His greatness was made up of natural qualities, as of a hillside towering o’er a plain, yet a part of it. Lincoln was surpassed in certain qualities by other of our historically great men, but there are none, we feel sure, who would have filled the place he filled as well as he.—Secretary of War Long.


One often thinks of his life as cut off, but no great man since Cæsar has seen his life work ended as did Lincoln. Napoleon died upon a desert rock, but not until Austerlitz and Wagram had become memories, and the dust of the empire even as all dust. Cromwell knew that England had not at heart materially altered. Washington did not know that he had created one of the great, perhaps the greatest, empires to be known to man. But Lincoln had a specific task to do—to save his country and to make it free—and on that fateful 14th of April he knew that he had accomplished both things.

There are those who would say that chance put this man where he was to do this work. To the thoughtful mind it was not chance, however, but design, and that the design of which all greatness is a part. War is indeed the crucible of the nations. It is the student of a century hence who shall properly place the civil war in American history. But, whatever that place be, there can be no doubt of the position in it of the war President. Like William the Silent, his domination of all about him was a matter not of personal desire, but of[111] absolute and constant growth. There are few more interesting characters in history than Lincoln. There is none who in quite the same manner fits himself so absolutely into his circumstances. It is the highest form of genius that so produces as to make production seem effortless, and it is perhaps the greatest of all tributes to Lincoln that what he did seems sometimes only what the average man would have done in his place.


The discussion on the question of whether or not Abraham Lincoln suggested at the conference with the southern commissioners at the so-called Fortress Monroe meeting, that he was prepared to pay $400,000,000 for the slaves in the Southern States provided peace with union could be obtained, is hardly likely to lead to any definite conclusion, for the reason that the few who should have known definitely about it are distinctly divided in their opinions. We are inclined to believe that, if the proposition was made, Mr. Lincoln, notwithstanding the immense influence that he then possessed, would have found it exceedingly difficult to convince Congress and a majority of the people of the North of the wisdom of the suggestion. As a business proposition, entirely apart from sentiment, it might have been, even at that late day, a wise plan to adopt. But the war had then been going on for years, and the hard feelings engendered would apparently have made the scheme a[112] less tenable one then than at an earlier day. It will, we imagine, appear to future historians that, in spite of the example which had been set by England in the West Indies, those representing both the North and the South showed themselves, just prior to the war, wanting in the true elements of statesmanship in not realizing that it was better to peaceably adjust their differences than have recourse to physical force. It is now well understood, and might have been well understood at the time, that the main issue was the slave issue, and that once out of the way, all other sources of division were insignificant. We could have well afforded to vote, if need be, several thousands of millions of dollars to purchase the freedom of the slaves if by that means the civil war with all of its wastes and sufferings could have been avoided; and if not now, a generation or two hence, we feel convinced that the people, both of the North and the South, will be of the opinion that such an outcome of the contention would have been possible if we had had on both sides of the quarrel, statesmen of the caliber of Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, John Quincy Adams and other eminent Americans who have made their mark in our national history.


Senator John M. Thurston said in part at a banquet of the Baptist Social Union, New York, on Lincoln’s birthday, in 1897:

“This is an entirely different gathering than that to which I have been recently[113] accustomed. I come from a forty days’ session of a moot court, in which the question of silver has been discussed and passed upon without any hope of legislation. There I have been used to having my audiences rise and leave as soon as I began to speak.

“Mr. President, if I have any purpose to-night, it is to strengthen the belief in a Divine Providence; and if I have any further purpose in this time of wars and rumors of wars, it is to show that God Almighty has made nations for higher purposes than mere money making. I am to speak to-night of Abraham Lincoln, the simplest, serenest, sublimist character of the age. Seventy millions of people join in commemorating his greatness. It is not my purpose to review his life; that is too much a part of history. That history should be taught in every American public school and preached from every Christian pulpit. The story of Abraham Lincoln, citizen, President, liberator and martyr, should be in the heart of every American child. I prefer to speak of only one event in his history. Yet that event was the harbinger of a new civilization.

“Not long since, as I sat in a crowded court room, engaged in the trial of a case involving the title to a valuable tract of real estate, there came to the witness stand a venerable, white-haired negro. Written all over his old black face was the history of three-quarters of a century of such an existence as few persons have ever known. Born a slave, he had stood upon the auction[114] block and been sold to the highest bidder; he had seen his wife and children dragged from his side by those who mocked his breaking heart; he bore upon his back the scars and ridges of a master’s lash. Now he came into a court of justice to settle, by the testimony of his black lips, a controversy between white men. When asked his age he drew himself proudly up and said: ‘For fifty years I was a chattel. On the first day of January, 1863, old Uncle Abe made me a man.’

“The act which set that old man free was the crowning glory of Lincoln’s life, for by it he not only saved his country, but emancipated a race. When Abraham Lincoln took his pen to sign the Emancipation Proclamation he knew that the supreme moment had come. He had known it years before, when he said: ‘A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe that this government cannot exist permanently, half slave and half free, but I do not expect this house to fall, this government to be dissolved.’

“God has always raised up a great leader for a great crisis. Moses, initiated into the sublime mysteries of the house of Pharaoh, himself a ruler and almost a king, led the children of Israel through the parted waters of the Red Seas into the wilderness in the strange hope of a deliverance. A shepherdess on the hills of France felt herself stirred at the sore trials of her race. Joan d’Arc, the savior of her country, was the instrument of God.

“Who can doubt that Providence put the preposterous notion of a round world[115] into the head of the Genoese sailor? Who can doubt that Providence designed Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant each for his own mission? The Declaration of Independence was the Genesis of American liberty, but the gospel of its New Testament was the Emancipation Proclamation. Until the Emancipation Proclamation the tide of success set strongly against the Union shore. But afterward the soldiers of the Union marched steadily from Chattanooga to Atlanta and from Atlanta to the sea. From the time the flag of liberty became the flag of freedom and the Stars and Stripes no longer floated over slaves, the Union never wavered in its onward march.

“Almost a third of a century has passed away. Blue and gray they lie together beneath the sod. Heroes all, they fell face to face, brother against brother. But through the mingled tears that fall alike upon the dead of both sections, the eyes of all turn toward a new future under the old flag. To the North and South, to the white and the black, Abraham Lincoln was God’s special providence. What is the heritage to us? In his own words, ‘A government of the people, by the people, and for the people.’

“I wish that my voice could reach from one end of the land to the other while I tell what true Americanism is. I come from a State that has as great local necessities, perhaps, as any other. The State of Nebraska put one star into the flag. The[116] great State of New York put another. But when they set them there, they ceased to shine for themselves, but for the whole Union.

“What we need in this country is the Emancipation Proclamation and the Stars and Stripes at every polling place. We need a revival of the American flag. Let it float over every American battlefield, be taught in every public school. Set the Stars of the Union in the hearts of our children and the glory of the Republic will remain forever. It does not matter whether the American cradle is rocked to the music of ‘Yankee Doodle’ or the lullaby of ‘Dixie’ if the flag of the nation is displayed above it, and the American baby can be safely trusted to pull about the floor the rusty scabbard and the battered canteen, whether the inheritance be from blue or gray, if from the breast of a true mother and the lips of a brave father, its little soul is filled with the glory of the American constellation.

“The memory of Lincoln cannot perish. On freedom’s roll of honor the name of Lincoln is written first. His colossal statue stands on a pedestal of the people’s love, and in its protecting shadow, liberty and equality are the heritage of every American citizen.”


There is something in Washington or in Lincoln or Grant, that defies analysis. It is a moral elevation, a magnanimity, a nobleness and profoundness of mind. It[117] is force of character and ability by which man is able to meet great emergencies. This is true greatness.

Nothing discloses real character like the use of power. If you wish to know what a man really is, give him power. This is the supreme test.

Judged by this standard Abraham Lincoln stands out one of the purest, grandest and noblest characters of all time. Greatness was never more unconscious of itself than it was in him. It consisted in the fact that he made mistakes but rose above them.

Lincoln was a man of marvelous growth. The statesman or the military hero born and reared in a log cabin is a familiar figure in American history; but we may search in vain among our men of honor and fame for one whose origin and early life equaled Abraham Lincoln’s in obscurity and lack of education.

He sprang from the poorest class in the border south. Hard work his early lot; his education a minus factor. In the year of his majority his father moved to Illinois. Here Lincoln began for himself the hard battle of life. He became an ambitious young man. Unquestionably in some mysterious way, he arrived at the conclusion that this world had something far higher for him than neighborhood joker, champion wrestler or prize wood chopper.

A lawyer lent him a copy of Blackstone and he commenced the study of law; was admitted to the bar in 1836; rose rapidly[118] in his profession and became an eminent lawyer. Being more adapted to the part of a jurist than an advocate, owing to the striking uprightness of his character, he applied himself to this branch of his profession, and it may truly be said that his vivid sense of truth and justice had much to do with his effectiveness as a jurist. When he felt himself to be the protector of innocence, the defender of justice, or the prosecutor of wrong, he frequently disclosed such unexpected resources of reasoning, such depth of feeling, and rose to such fervor of appeal as to astonish and overwhelm his hearers, and make his appeal irresistible.

He continued to “ride the circuit,” read books, tell funny stories to his fellow lawyers in the tavern, chat familiarly with his neighbors and become more and more widely known, trusted and beloved among the people of his State for his ability as a lawyer and politician, for the integrity of his character and the ever-flowing spring of sympathetic kindness in his heart. His main ambition was that of political distinction, yet no one, at that time, would have suspected that he was the man destined to lead the nation through the greatest crisis of the century.

Nevertheless, he was growing, indeed, this is one prominent fact in Lincoln’s life—he never ceased growing. As captain in the Black Hawk war, as candidate for the legislature, as storekeeper, postmaster, surveyor and law student, he was always growing.


In 1846 he was elected to congress where he distinguished himself as a humorous speaker and rapidly advanced to the front as a statesman.

Lincoln was a statesman in the truest and grandest sense of the word. He was a type of honesty and moral integrity. He had a conscience “void of offense toward God, and toward men.” A lover of the truth and men learned to trust him. He was just and for that reason would not put upon others that which he would not put upon himself. He studied the questions of the day and founded his opinions on truth and justice.

It was not until 1854 when the slavery question had been thrust into politics as the paramount issue, that Lincoln’s powers were aroused to their fullest capacity. He plunged into arduous study of the question, in its legal, historical and moral aspects, until his mind became a complete arsenal of argument.

Now he was able to cope with any political antagonist. The time had come when the Republican party required a man to put forward as their standard bearer one who would be equal for the coming election.

They found in Lincoln all the antecedents of his life to be such as to produce in him the rarest qualifications for the Presidency, to which he was now called by his party. It was during this canvass that he first revealed, in his great debates with Stephen A. Douglas, the full scope of his originality and genius. Subsequent[120] to this combat of giants, he was duly elected President.

No President, before or since, ever took his seat under such difficulties. The situation which confronted him was appalling; secession of the Southern States was fully organized, and less than a month before his inauguration seven of them had already seceded.

During his inaugural address he declared his fixed purpose to uphold the Constitution and preserve the integrity of the Union. It was his policy to ignore the action of the seceded States as a thing in itself null, void and of no effect.

Lincoln was the man whom Providence placed at the head of the nation in the supreme hour of its destiny. When he assumed the reins of government he was surrounded by traitors. The government was without army, without navy, without credit. He spoke, and two millions of men sprang, as from the ground. He breathed, and the bosom of the ocean was covered with ships of war. He placed his hand upon Wall street and the credit of the government was secured. He surrounded himself with the best and truest counselors of the time.

He signed his name and the shackles fell from the limbs of four million of slaves. His was a greatness for the time. He was the Moses of a new dispensation—called of God to lead the hosts of captives out of the bondage house of their oppression. Like his great prototype he was not permitted to see the land of promise. He led[121] the people safely through, but he was not allowed to guide them across the Jordan.

On the morning of April 15, 1865, God called Abraham Lincoln away from mortal sight.

Measured by what he did as a statesman and leader, he stands head and shoulders above all rulers of men in the annals of the six thousand years of Human History.

While a “solitary stripe remains in our banner,” while a “single star is blazoned on its field of blue,” so long will the deeds, the heroism and the loyalty of Abraham Lincoln be told to generations yet unborn.


George Washington was a communicant of the Episcopal Church.

Thomas Jefferson was a member of no church. He was a deist.

John Adams was a Unitarian.

James Madison was an Episcopalian.

James Monroe was an Episcopalian.

John Quincy Adams was a Unitarian.

Andrew Jackson became a member of the Presbyterian Church after the death of his wife.

Martin Van Buren regularly attended the Dutch Reformed Church at Kinderhook, N. Y., but was not a member.

William Henry Harrison was a communicant in the Episcopal Church. His pew in Christ Church, Cleveland, Ohio, bore his silver plate for years after his death.

John Tyler was a member of the Episcopal Church.


James K. Polk never united with any denomination. While he was President he attended the Presbyterian Church out of deference to his wife’s wishes. On his death-bed he was baptized by a Methodist preacher, an old friend and neighbor.

Zachary Taylor was an attendant of the Episcopal Church, and is said to have been a member.

Millard Fillmore was a Unitarian.

Franklin Pierce was a Trinitarian Congregationalist.

James Buchanan was a Presbyterian.

Andrew Johnson was not a member, but attended the Presbyterian Church.

Abraham Lincoln belonged to no church, but usually attended the Presbyterian services.

Ulysses S. Grant attended the Methodist Church, but was not a member.

Rutherford B. Hayes was a Methodist.

James A. Garfield was a member of the Church of the Disciples.

Chester A. Arthur was an Episcopalian.

Grover Cleveland joined the Presbyterian Church after his marriage.

Benjamin Harrison is a member of the Presbyterian Church.

William McKinley is a member of the Methodist Church.

Transcriber’s Note

On page 53 the line “men then in vogue he remarked how much” was omitted completely from the original printing; it has been restored by comparison with another edition.

On page 114 the line “emancipated a race. When Abraham Lin-” was printed, in the original, in the middle of an unrelated paragraph several pages earlier; it has been moved to where it belongs.

In the Table of Contents an entry has been added for the story “A Clergyman Who Talked But Little”, omitted in the original.

A few other minor printing errors, of punctuation, spelling, page numbering, etc., have been corrected without note.