Somehow I missed President Abraham Lincoln’s real birthday on Feb. 12, but since today is President’s Day, I thought I’d go ahead and print a couple of his humorous anecdotes from the Civil War.

A.K. McClure writes in his book Lincoln’s Yarns and Stories, “I recall sitting beside him in the White House one day when a message was brought to him telling of the capture of several brigadier-generals and a number of horses somewhere out in Virginia. He read the dispatch and then in an apparently soliloquizing mood, said: ‘Sorry for the horses; I can make brigadier-generals.'”

Word to the wise: Plough all around him

In this anecdote, Lincoln tells a friend how he handled a visit from Governor Blank.

When asked if he had conceded to the governor, Lincoln said, “Oh, no, I did not concede anything. You have heard how that Illinois farmer got rid of a big log that was too big to haul out, too knotty to split, and too wet and soggy to burn.”
“‘Well, now,’ said he, in response to the inquiries of his neighbors as to how he got rid of it, ‘well, now, boys, if you won’t divulge the secret, I’ll tell you how I got rid of it — I ploughed around it.’

“Now,” remarked Lincoln, in conclusion, “don’t tell anybody, but that’s the way I got rid of Governor Blank. I ploughed all round him, but it took me three mortal hours to do it, and I was afraid every minute he’d see what I was at.”


Since Lincoln now shares this holiday with President George Washington, here is one of my favorite quotes from him:

If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

Happy President’s Day!


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