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Title: Best Lincoln stories, tersely told
Author: Gallaher, James E.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Best Lincoln stories, tersely told" ***

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[Illustration: ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

Taken at Springfield in 1861. One of the very best.]

                             Lincoln Stories
                              TERSELY TOLD.

                             J. E. GALLAHER.

                         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 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 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.

                                                          J. E. GALLAHER.



    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


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 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

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 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 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 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 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. 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

    “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

    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

“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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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

“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 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

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 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 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 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 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 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


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 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

“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

“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 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 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 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.


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 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 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 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, 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

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 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

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
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 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. 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

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 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 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

“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

Again Douglas tried to evade, but Lincoln would not be put off, and he
insisted 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

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 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.

                                                            “A. LINCOLN.”


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 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

“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


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. 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
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 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

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


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 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

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 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. “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


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

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 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.

                                                            “A. LINCOLN.”


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 $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 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 Highness the Princess Alexandria of

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

“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 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


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


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 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

“That reminds me of a man in Illinois, who, in driving the hoops of a
hogshead 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 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

“‘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

“‘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


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 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

“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

“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 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 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 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 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? 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

“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 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 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

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 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

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 charged with
desertion, with having fallen asleep at a post of duty, or with other

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

When Secretary Stanton heard of these cases he commanded Judge Holt to
present 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, 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

“‘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 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 of the
views which were expressed. At length one of the active participants

“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. 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


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 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 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 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

“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

“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, 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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

“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 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 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

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

A lawyer lent him a copy of Blackstone and he commenced the study of
law; was admitted to the bar in 1836; rose rapidly 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

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 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 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.

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