Today, the Lincoln Commemorative Silver Dollar Coin shares stories and witticisms of President Lincoln on his 206th birthday.
On February 12, 1914, the Deseret News printed an article honoring President Lincoln by remembering his humor along with noting several quotes from the man who became larger than life.
Not least among the qualities which made Abraham Lincoln universally loved was his sense of humor. He was a great story-teller and on numerous occasions delighted his associates with his droll witticisms. Even in serious moments he would often flash a joke upon his listeners, thereby turning discouragement and depression into optimism and hope. Today we celebrate the one and fifth anniversary of his birth. The day serves to recall many stories which reflect his character.
Since the death of Lincoln, the list of stories ascribed to him has been ever increasing. The following are typical of Lincoln anecdotes:
A visitor once asked the great war president how many men the confederates had in the field. Lincoln answered seriously:
“Twelve hundred thousand according to the best authority.”
The visitor paled as he said:
“Yes, sir, 1,200,000—no doubt about it. You see, all of our generals when they get whipped say the enemy outnumbered them from three or five to one, and I must believe them. We have 400,000 in the field, and three times four make 12.”
An employee of a firm once wrote to Lincoln for information as to the financial standing of one of his neighbors. Lincoln answered:
“First of all, he has a wife and baby together they ought to be worth $500,000 to any man. Secondly, he has an office in which can be found a table worth $10 and four chairs worth about $4. Last of all, there is in one corner a large rat hole, which will bear looking into.
President Lincoln was expert in evading the questions of inquisitive visitors when he thought their questions were impolitic. One wanted to know his opinion of Sheridan, who had just come from the west to take command of the cavalry under Gen. Grant. Lincoln said:
“I’ll tell you just what kind of a chap he is. He is one of those tall, long-armed fellows with short legs that can scratch his shins without having to stoop over.”
One day a woman, accompanied by a senator, called on President Lincoln. Her husband, who was one of Mosby’s men, had been captured, tried and condemned to be shot. She came to ask a pardon for him. Lincoln heard her story and then asked her what kind of a husband her husband was.
“Is he intemperate, does he abuse the children and beat you?” asked the president.
“No, no,” said the wife. “He is a good man, a good husband; he loves me and he loves the children. We cannot live without him. The only trouble is that he is a fool about politics. I live in the north and was born there, and if I get him home he will do no more fighting for the south.”
“Well,” said Lincoln, after examining the papers, “I will pardon him and turn him over to you for safe keeping.”
The woman, overcome with joy, began to sob as if her heart would break.
“My dear woman,” said Lincoln, “if I had known how badly it was going to make you feel I never would have pardoned him.”
“You do not understand me,” she cried between sobs.
“Yes, yes, I do,” answered Lincoln, “and if you do not go away at once I shall be crying with you.”
Dr. Stephen A. Northrop has compiled a number of Lincoln’s pithy sayings, many of which have often been printed, but which are always worth reprinted and rereading. In the compilation are the following:
Give the boys a chance.
We cannot escape history.
Don’t sway horses in the middle of a stream.
Calling a sheep’s tail a leg doesn’t make it so.
When you can’t remove an object plow around it.
Is a man to blame for having a cowardly pair of legs?
Come what will I will keep my faith with friend and foe.
God bless my mother: All I am or hope to be I owe to her.
There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.
Faith in our God is indispensable to successful statesmanship.
Keep the temperance pledge and it will be the best act of your life.
So long as I have been here I have not willingly planted a thorn in any man’s bosom.
No man is good enough to govern another man without that other man’s consent.
A man has no time to spend in quarrels. If any man ceases to attack me I never remember the past against him.
If he had know how big a funeral he would have had he would have died years ago. —On hearing of the death of a vain general.
I have lost confidence in everything but God, and I now believe my heart is changed and that I love the Savior. —To Doctor Gurley, his pastor at Washington.
It may seem strange that any man should dare to ask God’s assistance in wringing bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not, that we be not judged.
When there shall be neither slave nor drunkard, how proud the title of that land which shall truly claim to be the birthplace and cradle of both resolutions.
In regard to the great book. I have only to say that it is the best gift God ever has given to man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through this book. But for this book we could not know right from wrong.
Following this article, the newspaper reported that the nation’s capital included in their celebration of Lincoln’s birthday on February 12, 1914 the ground breaking to begin the construction of the Lincoln Memorial.
The Lincoln Commemorative Silver Dollar Coin shows with a background of the Lincoln stature within the Memorial.