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"ABE'S" HAIR NEEDED COMBING
"By the way," remarked President Lincoln one day to
Colonel Cannon, a close personal friend, "I can tell you
a good story about my hair. When I was nominated at
Chicago, an enterprising fellow thought that a great
many people would like to see how 'Abe' Lincoln looked,
and, as I had not long before sat for a photograph, the
fellow, having seen it, rushed over and bought the
"He at once got no end of wood-cuts, and so active was
their circulation they were soon selling in all parts of
"Soon after they reached Springfield, I heard a boy
crying them for sale on the streets. 'Here's your
likeness of "Abe" Lincoln!' he shouted. 'Buy one; price
only two shillings! Will look a great deal better when
he gets his hair combed!"'
WOULD "TAKE TO THE WOODS."
Secretary of State Seward was bothered considerably
regarding the complication into which Spain had involved
the United States government in connection with San
Domingo, and related his troubles to the President.
Negotiations were not proceeding satisfactorily, and
things were mixed generally. We wished to conciliate
Spain, while the negroes had appealed against Spanish
The President did not, to all appearances, look at the
matter seriously, but, instead of treating the situation
as a grave one, remarked that Seward's dilemma reminded
him of an interview between two negroes in Tennessee.
One was a preacher, who, with the crude and strange
notions of his ignorant race, was endeavoring to
admonish and enlighten his brother African of the
importance of religion and the danger of the future.
"Dar are," said Josh, the preacher, "two roads befo'
you, Joe; be ca'ful which ob dese you take. Narrow am de
way dat leads straight to destruction; but broad am de
way dat leads right to damnation."
Joe opened his eyes with affright, and under the spell
of the awful danger before him, exclaimed, "Josh, take
which road you please; I shall go troo de woods."
"I am not willing," concluded the President, "to assume
any new troubles or responsibilities at this time, and
shall therefore avoid going to the one place with Spain,
or with the negro to the other, but shall 'take to the
woods.' We will maintain an honest and strict
LINCOLN CARRIED HER TRUNK
"My first strong impression of Mr. Lincoln," says a lady
of Springfield, "was made by one of his kind deeds. I
was going with a little friend for my first trip alone
on the railroad cars. It was an epoch of my life. I had
planned for it and dreamed of it for weeks. The day I
was to go came, but as the hour of the train approached,
the hackman, through some neglect, failed to call for my
trunk. As the minutes went on, I realized, in a panic of
grief, that I should miss the train. I was standing by
the gate, my hat and gloves on, sobbing as if my heart
would break, when Mr. Lincoln came by.
"'Why, what's the matter?' he asked, and I poured out
all my story.
"'How big's the trunk? There's still time, if it isn't
too big.' And he pushed through the gate and up to the
door. My mother and I took him up to my room, where my
little old-fashioned trunk stood, locked and tied. 'Oh,
ho,' he cried, 'wipe your eyes and come on quick.' And
before I knew what he was going to do, he had shouldered
the trunk, was down stairs, and striding out of the
yard. Down the street he went fast as his long legs
could carry him, I trotting behind, drying my tears as I
went. We reached the station in time. Mr. Lincoln put me
on the train, kissed me good-bye, and told me to have a
good time. It was just like him."
BOAT HAD TO STOP
Lincoln never failed to take part in all political
campaigns in Illinois, as his reputation as a speaker
caused his services to be in great demand. As was
natural, he was often the target at which many of the
"Smart Alecks" of that period shot their feeble bolts,
but Lincoln was so ready with his answers that few of
them cared to engage him a second time.
In one campaign Lincoln was frequently annoyed by a
young man who entertained the idea that he was a born
orator. He had a loud voice, was full of language, and
so conceited that he could not understand why the people
did not recognize and appreciate his abilities.
This callow politician delighted in interrupting public
speakers, and at last Lincoln determined to squelch him.
One night while addressing a large meeting at
Springfield, the fellow became so offensive that "Abe"
dropped the threads of his speech and turned his
attention to the tormentor.
"I don't object," said Lincoln, "to being interrupted
with sensible questions, but I must say that my
boisterous friend does not always make inquiries which
properly come under that head. He says he is afflicted
with headaches, at which I don't wonder, as it is a
well-known fact that nature abhors a vacuum, and takes
her own way of demonstrating it.
"This noisy friend reminds me of a certain steamboat
that used to run on the Illinois river. It was an
energetic boat, was always busy. When they built it,
however, they made one serious mistake, this error being
in the relative sizes of the boiler and the whistle. The
latter was usually busy, too, and people were aware that
it was in existence.
"This particular boiler to which I have reference was a
six-foot one, and did all that was required of it in the
way of pushing the boat along; but as the builders of
the vessel had made the whistle a six-foot one, the
consequence was that every time the whistle blew the
boat had to stop."
MCCLELLAN'S "SPECIAL TALENT"
President Lincoln one day remarked to a number of
personal friends who had called upon him at the White
"General McClellan's tardiness and unwillingness to
fight the enemy or follow up advantages gained, reminds
me of a man back in Illinois who knew a few law phrases
but whose lawyer lacked aggressiveness. The man finally
lost all patience and springing to his feet vociferated,
'Why don't you go at him with a fi. fa., a demurrer, a
capias, a surrebutter, or a ne exeat, or something; or a
nundam pactum or a non est?'
"I wish McClellan would go at the enemy with something—I
don't care what. General McClellan is a pleasant and
scholarly gentleman. He is an admirable engineer, but he
seems to have a special talent for a stationary engine."
LINCOLN’S HAT AND THE SMITHSONIAN
By Alison Harding CNN
One can only imagine the sights this hat has seen.
Perched atop a man who towered over his peers at 6 foot
4 inches, this hat must have had quite a view.
"Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life" at the
It may have been there when a divided nation -- a
devastating Civil War on the horizon -- elected a
politician from Illinois as president. It could have
watched as this president, so desperate to preserve the
Union, carefully drafted the Emancipation Proclamation,
thus changing the course of American history. And we
know for sure that this hat was witness to a tragic
April night when the same president was fatally shot
while enjoying a play.
The iconic top hat, part of a collection of items
associated with Abraham Lincoln, is now on display at
the National Museum of American History. Nearly three
years in the making, "Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary
Life" is part of the Smithsonian Institution's
bicentennial celebration of Abraham Lincoln's birth and
a rare glimpse into the life of one of our nation's
Nearly two centuries later, still adorned with a black
band of mourning for a son who died too early, Lincoln's
hat is worn-down, yet strangely magnificent. Maybe it is
the hat's history that gives it such a majestic quality.
Or perhaps it is simply that a top hat always commands a
certain reverence -- an attribute that may reveal a
great deal about the vanity of its owner.
"Why would somebody who is 6 foot 4 inches decide to
wear a tall hat?" asks Harry Rubenstein, curator of the
exhibit. "He clearly has this desire to stand out in the
crowd, to make his place in it."
Rubenstein hopes this is the type of intimate detail
about our 16th president's life that people will take
away from the ongoing Lincoln exhibit.
"This is the first time we've brought together all of
the museum's best Lincoln objects to tell the story of
Lincoln's life," Rubenstein says. "And I think it's a
different kind of story that emerges -- one that's more
intimate and more personal and one that brings this
story to life in very tangible ways."
collection more than 140 years ago, Rubenstein says.
The exhibit, which opened in January, houses more than
60 items from Abraham Lincoln's life, spanning his
humble beginnings, his political career, his life in the
White House, and even relics recovered in the wake of
Rubenstein says the collection includes "little personal
objects of things he touched and used at pivotal moments
in his life," like his office suit, his gold pocket
watch -- and a coffee cup he left on a windowsill the
night of his assassination.
The exhibit is also home to more significant objects,
such as the inkstand Lincoln used to draft the
Emancipation Proclamation, and a patent model of a
device he invented for lifting boats over sand bars.
Also on display is memorabilia from the 1860
presidential election campaign -- such as a replica
poster portraying a young and masculine Lincoln
splitting rail -- that reveal a candidate not impervious
to the somewhat superficial aspects of the American
political system. Rubenstein says that although Lincoln
scoffed at his party's attempts to brand him as "Old Abe
the Rail Splitter," he understood the importance of
appealing to the masses and creating an image to "link
him and his ideals in an iconic kind of way."
Perhaps no one is more aware of the power of Lincoln's
iconic image than President Barack Obama, who frequently
cited his Illinois predecessor as a source of
inspiration for his own presidency.
While Rubenstein warns against drawing too much of a
comparison between presidents -- the two Illinoisans
have been linked by their reformist platforms, their
penchant for eloquent speeches, and even for their
physical likenesses -- he acknowledges the significance
of the symbolic timing: As the first African-American
becomes president, the nation celebrates the 200th
birthday of the man who ended slavery.
"We have a president from Illinois -- the land of
Lincoln -- who has found inspiration in the Lincoln
story. ... It's clearly an historic moment," Rubenstein
Nonetheless, as the nation celebrates Obama's momentous
election, "An Extraordinary Life" is a reminder of the
relevance of Lincoln's legacy today and commemorates the
incredible life that he led.
"It is amazing ...here is this individual from a family
in the middle of the woods in Kentucky ... [struggling]
to educate himself," Rubenstein says. "To then take on
this incredible responsibility, [and] beyond that, his
ability to articulate those ideas to inspire not only
his generation, but for us today ... it's an
extraordinary odyssey that he took."
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