• R.F Wittmeyer
  • February 9, 2018

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809 in Hodgenville, KY. We celebrate the Great Emancipator in the Land of Lincoln every year. With amazing oratory skills and leadership like none before or after, we honor the fourteenth President. But did you know that he loved to tell jokes? What do you know about his pets? And he wasn’t just a President, he also was a father.

Did You Hear the One About Nero?

“When he told a particularly good story, and the time came to laugh, he would sometimes throw his left foot across his right knee, and clenching his foot with both hands and bending forward, his whole frame seemed to be convulsed with the effort to give expression to his sensations.”

President Lincoln loved to tell a story. Unfortunately, he had an underlying sadness, but his stories and jokes gave him the levity he needed.

Walt Whitman wrote:

As is well known, story-telling was often with President Lincoln a weapon which he employ’d with great skill. Very often he could not give a point-blank reply or comment-and these indirections, (sometimes funny, but not always so,) were probably the best responses possible. In the gloomiest period of the war, he had a call from a large delegation of bank presidents.

In the talk after business was settled, one of the big Dons asked Mr. Lincoln if his confidence in the permanency of the Union was not beginning to be shaken-whereupon the homely President told a little story: “When I was a young man in Illinois,” said he, “I boarded for a time with a deacon of the Presbyterian church. One night I was roused from my sleep by a rap at the door, and I heard the deacon’s voice exclaiming, ‘Arise, Abraham! the day of judgment has come!’ I sprang from my bed and rushed to the window, and saw the stars falling in great showers; but looking back of them in the heavens I saw the grand old constellations, with which I was so well acquainted, fixed and true in their places. Gentlemen, the world did not come to an end then, nor will the Union now.

When you look at the five dollar bill next time, imagine the stories he would tell!

Goats at the White House

Ever see a turtle or lost pet on the side of the road and want to help? So did Abraham Lincoln. Mr. Lincoln was known to go to great lengths to rescue animals from adversity – including once backtracking to rescue a pig stuck in the mud because he couldn’t bear the thought of it suffering.

Additionally, his presidency led to people providing his family with support animals. First, they got a dog, in addition to their dog Fido, which had to stay in Springfield. Or really, a second dog found them. “In mid-October 1861, after the defeat at Bull Run, the Lincolns left Alexandria to return to the capital. A black dog followed them home. The Lincoln children, like all children, loved the new dog. Unfortunately, the dog had an owner who read about the White House resident and went to get his dog back. The owner promised the Lincolns a puppy but the dog disappeared before the birth of a puppy.

But Lincoln was not just a dog person. He also had a fondness for kittens. Secretary of State William Seward presented the Lincoln household with two kittens early in his administration.

To complete the menagerie, the Lincolns adopted two goats, Nanny and Nanko, who had the run of the White House property. Of course, the White House staff did not like the destruction that followed the goats, but if the President wants goats, what can you do? And when your kids love those goats, they can join all of the cats and dogs they want! Even if Mrs. Lincoln did not like the zoo.

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