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Think you know Abraham Lincoln? Think Again

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

While Abraham Lincoln may be famous for the monumental Emancipation Proclamation, his moving Second Inaugural Address, or his tragic assassination, much less is known about our 16th president’s more peculiar habits. Author Rich Lowry sought to remedy this deficiency by compiling a list of lesser-known Lincoln anecdotes, and the results may surprise you.

For instance, it may not make it inside your classroom’s history book, but our beloved Honest Abe hated the name “Abe”. As a young professional, Lincoln sought to achieve respectability and escape the rural poverty of his upbringing. “Abe” was not a dignified enough name for Mr. Lincoln.

At his law office, according to historian David Herbert Donald, he called his younger partner William Herndon “Billy”; Herndon called him “Mr. Lincoln.” His wife, too, called him “Mr. Lincoln”; before they had children and he began calling her “Mother,” he addressed her as “Puss,” “little woman,” or “child wife.”

Viewers of Spielberg’s “Lincoln” may be familiar with Lincoln’s creative legislative maneuvering, but did you know he once jumped out of a window to avoid a Congressional vote? While serving as a state representative in Illinois, Lincoln sought to prevent the legislature from obtaining a quorum, so the Democrats could not vote to abolish the state bank which Lincoln supported.

When Lincoln realized Democrats were on the verge of scaring up enough members, he tried to escape the statehousethrough a window. The sergeantatarms refused orders to give chase: “My God! gentlemen, do you know what you ask? Think of the length of Abe’s legs, and then tell me how I am to catch him.” A Democratic newspaper lampooned Lincoln by saying a resolution would soon be introduced to add a third story to the state house “so as to prevent members from jumping out windows! If such a resolution passes, Mr. Lincoln in future will have to climb down the spout.”

AEI