Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Monday, December 29, 2014

Lincoln’s Wit/Wisdom 282

In 1832 Lincoln served as a captain in the Black Hawk War, an Indian skirmish which lasted but a few weeks and in which he did not once hear a shot fired in anger. In short, there seemed to be virtually nothing in this experience that might contribute to a burgeoning political career. He had a way of dealing with those who, like himself, had virtually no combat experience to bolster their careers: he showed how they and he were pretty much on the same footing. In short, their pretense brought out his withering humor. 'By the way, do you know I am a military hero? Yes, sir, in the days of the Black Hawk War, I fought, bled, and came away. Speaking of General Cass's career reminds me of my own. I was not at Stallman's defeat, but I was about as near to it as Cass to Hull's surrender; and like him I saw the place very soon afterwards. It is quite certain I did not break my sword, for I had none to break, but I bent my musket pretty badly on one occasion... If General Cass went in advance of me picking whortleberries, I guess I surpassed him in charging upon the wild onion.  If he saw any live, fighting Indians, it was more than I did, but I had a good many bloody struggles with the mosquitoes, and although I never fainted from loss of blood, I can truly say that I was often very hungry.'

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Lincoln’s Wit/Wisdom 281

In 1854 Lincoln represented James Dunlap who had assaulted a newspaper editor by the name of Peter Selby. Selby wanted $10,000 in damages. ‘There wasn’t much Lincoln could do about getting his client entirely off the hook; Dunlap had in fact assaulted Selby. When the time came for his turn to address the jury, Lincoln slowly stood, picked up a copy of Selby’s motion, and then suddenly burst into a long, loud laugh accompanied by his most wonderfully grotesque facial expression. The very sight of this caused several members of the jury to snicker, at which point Lincoln apologized. He said he had looked at the motion and noticed that the original amount of the suit had been only $1,000, but that this had been crossed out and replaced with the $10,000 figure. Lincoln snickered that, somehow, Selby had had second thoughts and “concluded that the wounds to his honor were worth an additional nine thousand dollars.” His little joke was calculated to rob the assault case [and the plaintiff] of dignity. Apparently it worked; the jury returned a decision for damages of only $300.’

- Brian Dirck

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Lincoln’s Wit/Wisdom 280

 “To ease another’s heartache is to forget one’s own,”

- A Lincoln

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Lincoln’s Wit/Wisdom 279

“Honest old Abe when the war first began
Denied abolition was part of his plan.
Honest old Abe has since made a decree
That the War must go on till the slaves are all free.
As both can’t be honest, will someone tell how
If Honest Abe then he is Honest Abe now.”

Civil War Doggerel

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Lincoln’s Wit/Wisdom 278


In August 1862, the month before the issuance of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, Wendell Phillips, one of the most influential abolitionists of the day, wrote that the President 'has no mind whatever. He has not uttered a word that gives even a twilight glimpse of any antislavery purpose. He may be honest - nobody cares whether a tortoise is honest or not; he has neither insight, nor prevision, nor decision. As long as you keep the present turtle at the head of the Government you make a pit with one hand and fill it with the other.'