Copyright
John Barr.

Wit and humor of American statesmen; a collection from various sources classified under appropriate subject headings online

. (page 3 of 10)
Online LibraryJohn BarrWit and humor of American statesmen; a collection from various sources classified under appropriate subject headings → online text (page 3 of 10)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


high a pitch of excitement in his prayers and
exhortations, that they are obliged to put brie ks
into his pockets to keep him down. We may be
obliged to serve Stanton the same way, but I
guess we'll let him jump awhile first."

******

"I was once called to Washington," sayi
Senator Palmer, "to see Mr. Lincoln on a mat-
ter of business. It was in 1865. I was shown
into an anteroom, and waited for some time. I
saw Senators and others going in, and finally I
was called. Mr. Lincoln was being shaved.
He said I was home folks, and he could shave
before me. I said to him :



48 mit anD Ibumor

' • • Mr. Lincoln, if I had supposed at the Chi-
cago Convention that nominated you that we
would have this terrible war I would never have
thought of going down to a one-horse town and
getting a one-horse lawyer for President.'

" I did not know how he would take it, but
rather expected an answer that I could laugh at.
But he brushed the barber to one side, and with
a solemn face turned to me and said :

" 'Neither would I, Palmer. I don't believe
any great man with a policy could have saved
the country. If I have contributed to the sav-
ing of the country, it was because I attended to
the duties of each day with the hope that when
to-morrow came I would be equal to the duties
of that day,' and he turned to the barber."



A lady once called to see Mr. Lincoln on
business of importance. No one was waiting,
and, at the invitation of the messenger, she
passed directly into the President's room. She
found a gentleman engaged in conversation with
the President, but neither noticed her entrance.
Taking a seat at a distance from the two gentle-
men, she waited her opportunity. The visitor
handed a paper to Mr. Lincoln. He looked it
over carelessly, and said, —



of Bmerfcan Statesmen 49

"Yes, that is a sufficient indorsement for

anybody. What do you want?"

The reply was not heard, but the promotion
of some person in the army was strongly urged.
She heard the sarcastic words from the appli-
cant : —

"I see there are no vacancies among the
adiers, from the fact that so many colonels are
commanding brigades. ' '

At this the President threw himself lor ward in
his chair, and looking the man squarely in the
face, said, " My friend, you are a farmer, I be-
lieve. Suppose you had a large cattle-yard full
of all sorts of cattle, — cows, oxen, and bulls, —
and you kept killing and selling, and disposing
of your cows and oxen in one way and another,
taking good care of your bulls. By and by you
would find out that you had nothing but a yard
full of old bulls, good for nothing under heaven.
Now it will be just so with the army if I don't
stop making brigadier -generals."

******

Mr. John H. Littlefield, who studied law
under Mr. Lincoln, is responsible for the follow-
ing:—

Several men were urging Mr. Lincoln i
move Secretary of the Treasury Chase. They
said he was in the way of the administration, and



so TOt ane tmmot

hampered the President. A smile played around
the corners of the President's mouth, as he
said, —

"That reminds me of a farmer out West. He
was ploughing with his old mare Nance one hot
summer day, and his son was following another
plow in an adjoining furrow. A horse-fly got on
Nance's nose, and the son kept yelling to his
father to stop and get the fly off the mare's
nose. The father paid no attention to his vo-
ciferous son for awhile ; but the son kept yelling
about the fly on Nance's nose until the old man
answered,

" ' Now, look-a-here, jist keep quiet ; that ere
fly on Nance's nose makes her go faster.' "



Mr. Stanton, his war secretary, never quite
knew how to take Lincoln. Stanton was for ex-
terminating such elements as dared to question
the President's policy. It is related that once
some one had refused to understand an order,
or at all events had not obeyed.

" I believe I'll sit down," said Stanton, " and
give that man a piece of my mind.''

"Do so," said Lincoln: "write him now
while you have it on your mind. Make it
sharp. Cut him all up."



of American Statesmen 51

Stanton did not need a second invitation. It
was a bone-crusher that he read to the Presi-
dent.

"That's right," said Abe; "that's a good
one."

" Who can I send it by ? " mused the Secre-
tary.

"Send it?" replied Lincoln; "send it!
Why, don't send it at all. Tear it up. You
have freed your mind on the subject, and that
is all that is necessary. Tear it up. You never
want to send such letters ; I never do."



Shortly after the battle of Gettysburg, Presi-
dent Lincoln was being shown over the battle-
field.

" Here," said the General who was escorting
him, "here on the brow of the hill stood our
brave men, who three different times repelled
the assaults of the rebels. I shall always be
proud to know, Mr. President, that the men who
held these heights were American citizens."

"And I," replied President Lincoln, "shall
always be proud to know that the brave men
who charged up these heights, and though re-
pulsed, charged again and again, were likewise
American citizens."



CHAPTER III

Office-seeking as a Fint Art

It is recorded that a man appointed Sixth
Auditor of the Treasury, subject to examination,
was asked to state the distance of the moon from
the earth. His written answer was simply :
"Not near enough to affect the functions of a
Sixth Auditor." He passed. So did another,
who being examined for employment in the
Treasury, was asked how many soldiers England
sent to this country during the Revolution.
His answer was: "A great sight more than
ever got back."



"On a trip to Washington," said Col. W. F.
Cody, " I had for a companion Sousa, the band
leader. We had berths opposite each other.
Early one morning as we approached the capital
I thought I would have a little fun. I got a
morning paper, and, after rustling it a few
minutes, I said to Sousa :
52



c f American Statesmen ~>3

"-That's the greatest order Cleveland
just issued ! '

"< What's that? 1 came from the opposite
berth.

"'Why, he's ordered all the office-seekers
rounded up at the depot and sent home.'

" You should have seen the general conster-
nation that ensued. From almost every berth
on the car a head came out from between the
curtains, and with one accord nearly every man
shouted :

" 'What's that?'"



It happened to be the semi-monthly pay day
in the Post-office Department, and, as usual, the
long line of clerks and other employees stretched
down the corridor from the office of the dis-
bursing clerk.

An eager office-seeker who rushed up from the
railway station, bag in hand, in his haste to see
Postmaster-General Bissell, seeing the long line
of people standing in the corridor, fell in at the
end of it.

An impatient exclamation from him drew the
attention of the clerk standing just in front of
him, who, seeing that he was a stranger asked :

" Do you want to see the disbursing clerk ? "



54 *TOt ano Ibumor

"No," said the office-seeker, " I want to see
the postmaster-general."

"Well," said the clerk, " we are all waiting
to get our money from the disbursing clerk.
We are clerks in the department."

"Heavens," said the stranger, "I thought
you were all office-seekers," and he promptly
made a break for the postmaster's room.
******

When Senator Corwin was appointed Secre-
tary of the Treasury by President Fillmore, Clay
called upon him with the request that he should
give the position of treasurer of the department
to his old firm and true political friend, John
Sloane, who for many years ably represented a
leading district of Ohio in the Lower House of
Congress. The secretary declined making the
appointment, which the great Senator with all
his persuasive powers and eloquence urged upon
him. The appointment still being refused the
great Kentuckian said, " Tom, I never should
have thought you could treat your old friend in
this style." Grasping his old political leader
by the hand, the Secretary remarked, "My
friend, the reason why I said that I could not
make this appointment was that I had already
made it."



ot Smerican Statesmen 56

Office-seekers should go to Gainesville, Flor-
ida. Here's a paragraph from the paper pub-
lished in that place which says : " When the
Hon. L. C. Dennis left us for his Northern trip,
to be absent several months, we lost in him our
senator, county commissioner, board of instruc-
tion, deputy marshal, deputy sheriff, deputy
county clerk, treasurer of school funds, cus-
todian of county treasurer's books, senior coun-
cilman and acting mayor. Nearly all public
business was suspended until his return on the
21st October."

Pat wanted a position under the government,
and on being told that he must be prepared to
pass a civil service examination, applied himself
faithfully to the necessary preparation. Some
time later his ambition for preferment seemed to
have deserted him.

"What is the matter, Pat?" asked his for-
mer employer. "Couldn't you pass the ex-
amination? "

"I could that," he replied. "I answered
every question on the paper. But," he added,
his native wit coming to his rescue, "I guess
they thought I knew too much to be wastin' me
time washin' windies."



56 Wit ano "tbumor

The Rev. Dr. Biddell tells a lively story about
a Presbyterian minister who had a young son, a
lad about ten years of age. He was endeavor-
ing to bring him up in the way he should go,
and was one day asked by a friend what he in-
tended to make of him. In reply he said :

''I am watching the indications. I have a
plan which I propose trying with the boy. It is
this : I am going to place in my parlor a Bible,
an apple and a silver dollar. Then I am going
to leave the room and call in the boy. I am
going to watch him from some convenient place
without letting him know that he is seen.
Then, if he chooses the Bible, I shall make a
preacher of him ; if he takes the apple, a farmer
he shall be ; but if he chooses the dollar, I will
make him a business man."

The plan was carried out. The arrangements
were made and the boy called in from his play.
After a little while the preacher and his wife softly
entered the room. There was the youngster.
He was seated on the Bible, in one hand was
the apple, from which he was just taking a bite,
and in the other he clasped the silver dollar.
The good man turned to his consort. " Wife,"
he said, "the boy is a hog. I shall make a
politician of him."



ct american Statesmen -.7

Soon after the first inauguration of Governor
Seward, as Chief Magistrate of New York,
Virus W. Smith, then and for many years after-
wards a potential man in the Whig party of
Onondaga County, wrote to Mr. Thurlow Weed,
requesting him to call upon the Governor and
ask him to appoint a certain man as India:.
Agent for the Onondaga tribe of Indians. The
person recommended was well known to Mr.
Weed as one of those meddlesome fellow-,
whose only power is a power for mischief. He
was therefore surprised at Mr. Smith's urging
him for the position. Next day Mr. •
mentioned the matter to the Governor (who was
equally cognizant of the man's character) and
remarked that he had answered the letter, and
that action for the present would be delayed.
It was thought that this would bring Mr. Smith
to Albany to look after the matter, as it did.
On arriving he promptly called upon Mr. Weed,
who expostulated with him as to the character
of his candidate. •• Nevertheless," sai


1 3 5 6 7 8 9 10

Online LibraryJohn BarrWit and humor of American statesmen; a collection from various sources classified under appropriate subject headings → online text (page 3 of 10)