Friday, August 6, 2010

Of Top Hats and Funerals

I am a big fan of Abraham Lincoln. We grew up in this beautiful old house in Illinois, and it was rumored that Lincoln had occasionally stayed there on his trips between Bloomington and Springfield.

Anyway, Uncle Steve and his family were here for education week last week. Steve was able to attend a class on Lincoln, and shared a cute anecdote about him. I decided I would take the opportunity while my kiddoes are visiting Grandma down in Provo to do a little more reading about this great man. Not only did I find the story that Steve shared, but I also found quite a few others I shall copy down here for my readers’ enjoyment.

Of course, we are I’m sure familier with Abe’s nickname “honest Abe,” and among his neighbors, he was often called upon to settle disputes. On one occasion, two men had been arguing for a considerable amount of time about how long a person’s legs should be in proportion to his body. They came to Lincoln to ask for his opinion. Lincoln listened carefully to the two men, pondered for a few moments, then offered the following opinion:

“This question has been a source of controversy for untold ages, and it is about time it should be definitely decided. It has led to bloodshed in the past, and there is no reason to suppose it will not lead to the same in the future. After much thought and consideration, not to mention mental worry and anxiety, it is my opinion, all side issues being swept aside, that a man’s lower limbs, in order to preserve harmony of proportion, should be at least long enough to reach from his body to the ground.”

It is well known that Abraham practiced law. At one point in his law career, he had an office in Springfield that was directly over a courtroom, and Lincoln could keep track of the proceedings by opening a little trap door in his floor and listening in. During one case, apparently things got a little out of hand, and Lincoln simply dropped down through the trap door and rebuked the audience! Can you imagine being in that courtroom when that happened?! What a surprise!

One time, there was a young officer who had been indicted for assaulting an old man. Lincoln opened the case by saying “This is an indictment against a soldier for assaulting an old man.” The defendant interrupted and said, “Sir, I am no soldier, I am an officer.” “I beg your pardon,” replied Abe. Gentleman of the jury, this is an indictment against an officer, who is no soldier, for assaulting an old man.”

The story I heard from Uncle Steve, and found in one of my books, was about a fellow who had come to Abraham requesting his services in regards to collection of a debt that was owed to him by an impoverished young attorney, in the amount of $2.50. Abraham told the fellow that his fee was $10.00, payable in advance. That was fine with the man. Lincoln then sought out the young attorney, gave him half of the fee, and escorted him to court where the man accepted judgement and paid the $2.50. What a great example of the compassion Lincoln had for others who were in distress.

Lincoln was not a very organized person, and often stuffed important papers in his top hat, so he could get to them whenever needed. Problems arose however, when he bought a new hat, and forgot to transfer the papers from his old hat. He had several people wondering what had happened to their important documents!

While in Quincy on one occasion, Lincoln met a young reporter and humorist. The two men talked about a number of things, among them, the recent death of a military figure who was held in high esteem by both his countrymen and himself. “If the general had known how big a funeral he was going to have,” said Lincoln, “he would have died years ago.”

O.K., I’m running out of time, so I will try to write more fun little anecdotes later. No promises, though!

1 comment:

Mary said...

I found your blog on the Abrams blog! How is life going? Wish we were still there - I'd love to see your cute family.

p.s. Our blog is