Lilian Clara Bergold.

Abraham Lincoln centennial : a collection of authentic stories, with poems, songs, and programs, for the boys, girls, and teachers of elementary schools online

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an American if you had met me anywhere else than in this

"No," said the distinguished Muscovite, who, like Old
Abe, was a bit of a wag, "I should have taken you for a

"So I am," exclaimed the President, straightening
himself up to his full height, "and a Liberty Pole at that."
— By permission of O. H. Oldroyd.

3-6 How Tad Signalled to His Father

Lincoln was listening to an account of one of Grant's
battles, when a gentle knocking resounded on the door to
which Lincoln paid no heed. Then the door knob was

rattled and a childish voice called, "Unfasten the door."
Lincoln drew the bolt, and Little Tad, then ten years old,
bounced in, and jumped upon his father's lap.

The little fellow was in the habit, if he awoke in the
night, of creeping into his father's bed; but on this occasion,
not finding him, had come over to the office, which was on
the same floor.

Lincoln, with Tad on his knee, began to teach him to
make a certain signal by tapping on the desk with Tad's
fist doubled up in his own big, bony hand. Telegraphy
had been introduced but a short time before.

There were seven quick raps, followed by two slower

ones, thus — — , and over and over

again these dots and dashes were sounded on the desk un-
til Tad made the signal correctly without his father's help.

Tad had been taught to make this signal on the office
door, whenever he wanted to come in, and had forgotten
to make it, so his father paid no attention to the disturb-
ance-till he heard the voice.

— By permission oj The Century Company.

7-8 Attending to the Details of the Army

"Now, my man, go away, go away,'' 1 General Fry
overheard Lincoln say one day to a soldier who was plead-
ing for the President's interference in his behalf. "I can-
not meddle in your case. I could as easily bail out the
Potomac with a teaspoon as attend to all the details of the


4-8 Lincoln on His Ancestry

Concerning his ancestry Lincoln said, "I don't know
who my grandfather was, and am much more concerned
to know what his grandson will be."

Blondin Crossing the Niagara River

Lincoln and the country expected McClellan to cross
the Potomac on the 2 2d of February. When he failed to
do this complaints kept coming in to the President. Finally
he said to some gentlemen in answer to their complaints,
"Gentlemen, suppose you had put all the property you were
worth into the hands of Blondin, the wire walker, to carry
across the Niagara. Would you shake the cable or keep
shouting directions at him? No, you would hold your
breath as well as your tongue until he was safely over. It
is Ihus with the government. Keep silent, and we'll get
you safely across."




5-8 Purpose of Lincoln's Stories

While at Washington, Lincoln was once asked to tell
a story. He replied by saying: "I believe I have the popu-
lar reputation of being a story-teller; but it is not the story
itself, but its purpose or effect, that interests me. I often
avoid a long, useless discussion by others or laborious ex-
planation on my own part by a short story that illustrates
my point of view. So, too, the sharpness of a refusal or
the edge of a rebuke may be blunted by an appropriate

— By permission 0} The Century Company.

The Irish Bull About the New Boots

How could we make an entirely new improvement
such as a road or canal by means of the tonnage duties de-
rived from it? The idea that we could, involves the same
absurdity as the Irish bull about the new boots. "I shall
never git 'em on," says Pat, "till I wear 'em a day or two,
and stretch 'em a little."



7-8 The Rat Story

While en route from Dixon to Freeport, Illinois, Mr.
Lincoln took off his hat and produced a crumpled and not
too immaculate scrap of paper from the multitude therein.

"Now, Joe," said he to Mr. Medill, of the Press and
Tribune, "here are the four questions I intend to ask Judge
Douglas. I am ready for you. Fire away."

After reading them over, Mr. Medill said, "We don't
care about the others, but if you ask the second you will
never see the United States Senate." The question read,
"Can the people of the United States Territory, in any
lawful way, against the wish of any citizen of the United
States, exclude slavery from its limits prior to the forma-
tion of a State Constitution?" "Douglas will answer
'Yes,' and that's all the Democrats want to put him in the
Senate," said Mr. Medill. "Why should we work for

"Joe," said Lincoln, "a rat in the larder is easier to
catch than a rat that has the run of the cellar. You know
where to set your trap in a larder. I'll tell you why I am
in this campaign — to catch Douglas now and keep him
out of the White House in i860."

— By permission. From " The Crisis" by Winston

7-8 Boast of an Irish Soldier

A witty Irish soldier was always boasting of his brav-
ery when no danger was near, but always retreated at the
first charge of an engagement. When asked by his cap-


tain why he did so he replied: "I have as brave a heart
as Julius Caesar ever had; but, somehow or other, when-
ever danger approaches, my cowardly legs will run away
with it." So with some men. They take public money
for the best imaginable purposes; but before they can
possibly produce it again, their rascally "vulnerable heels"
will run away with them.

5-8 The Steamboat with Six-Inch Boiler and Nine-
Inch Whistle

We have all met with people who in ordinary affairs
seem rational enough, but as soon as they arise to address
an assembly all sense seems to desert them. Mr. Lincoln
was once opposed in a law suit by a lawyer who belonged
in this class. It reminded him of a story. He once saw
a steam-boat which had an engine with a six-inch boiler
and a nine-inch whistle. The steamboat moved along all
right until it blew its whistle, then the locomotion ceased


By permission of O. H. Oldroyd.

iEsop's Fable about Four White Men Scrubbing
A Negro

One day, discussing with Dr. Sunderland the effect which
the war would have upon the negro, Lincoln suddenly
laughed and said, "This makes me think of a story in
'/Esop's Fables.' Four white men were scrubbing a negro
in a potash kettle of cold water, hoping to make him white,


but just as they thought they were succeeding he took cold
and died. Now I'm afraid that by the time we get through
this war the Negro will catch cold and die."

3-8 How Some People Succeed in Corking Up


A Union general had allowed himself and his army to be
drawn into a dangerous position. When speaking of this,

Lincoln said: "General reminds me of a man out

West who was engaged in what they call heading a barrel.
He worked diligently for a time driving down the hoops;
but when the job seemed completed, the head would fall in,
and he would have to do the work all over again. Sud-
denly a bright idea struck him. He put his boy into the
barrel to hold up the head while he pounded down the hoops.
This worked like a charm. The job was completed be-
fore he once thought how he was to get the little fellow out
again. Now," said Mr. Lincoln, "some people can suc-
ceed better in getting themselves and others corked up
than in getting uncorked."

7-8 The Coon Story

At the close of the War, Lincoln was beset by men who
wished to advise him how to proceed toward the conquered
Confederacy. One gentleman boldly asked aloud, what
everyone else was asking privately, "Mr. President, what
will you do with Jeff Davis when he is caught?"


Mr. Lincoln straightened up, and all knew he was
about to tell a story. "Gentlemen," he began, "that re-
minds me of a little boy I once found crying on a street
corner of a little Illinios town. I asked him the cause of
his trouble. He said that he had been struggling with the
coon which was tugging at the end of a string. Between
sobs he continued, 'That coon, sir, has given me all kinds
of trouble, and now has nearly gnawed the string in two.
I just wish he would, so I could say at home that he had
got away.'"

Everyone laughed. All understood what the President
would like to do with Jeff Davis — when Jeff Davis was


1-4 "All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother."

3-8 "It is better only sometimes to be right than at all

times to be wrong."

1-8 "A living dog is better than a dead lion."

1-8 "Broken eggs cannot be mended."

5-6 "I do not wish to die until the world is better for my

having lived." (Said to his closest friend, Joshua Speed.)

3-6 "When I am dead, I wish my friends to remember that

I always plucked a thistle and planted a rose when in my

7-8 "My early history is perfectly characterized by a single

line of Gray's 'Elegy':

"'The short and simple annals of the poor.'"

(Reply to a gentleman who asked for a sketch of his
life, 1861.)

3 1

6-8 "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for

themselves, and under a just God cannot long retain it."

4-8 "If we do right, God will be with us, and if God is with

us we cannot fail."

5-8 "He who does something at the head of one regiment,

will eclipse him who does nothing at the head of a hun-

5-8 "Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that

faith let us to the end dare to do our duty as we understand
it." — Cooper Institute Speech.

5-8 Maxim when assigning offices: " Justice to all."

"I have not suffered by the South, I have suffered with
the South. Their pain has been my pain; their loss has
been my loss. What they have gained, I have gained."



7-8 Lincoln's Sketch of His Own Life

Written for the Campaign of i860. Excellent as a
reading. Closes with the following personal description:

If any personal description of me is thought desirable,
it may be said I am, in height, six feet four inches, nearly;
lean in flesh, weighing on an average one hundred eighty
pounds ; dark complexion, with coarse black hair, and gray
eyes. No other marks or brands recollected.

Yours truly,

A. Lincoln.
— Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, — Nicolay and Hay,
I, 596.

5-8 Lincoln's Interpretation of "All Men are

Created Equal"

"I say no man is good enough to govern another man,
without that other's consent. I say this is the leading
principle — the sheet anchor of American republicanism.
Our Declaration of Independence says: 'We hold these



truths to be self-evident ; that all men are created equal : that
they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalien-
able rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pur-
suit of happiness.'

"I think the authors of that notable instrument intended
to include all men, but they did not intend to declare all
men equal in all respects. They did not mean to say all
were equal in color, size, intellect, moral developments,
or social capacity. They defined with tolerable distinct-
ness, in what respects they did consider all men created
equal — equal with 'certain inalienable rights, among
which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.'"

7-8 Address on Colonization to A Deputation of
Colored Men

Lincoln's opinions regarding the future of the negroes
and the advantages of colonization in Central America
are forcibly expressed. — Extracts — Complete Works of Abra-
ham Lincoln. — Nicolay and Hay, II, 222.

Letter to Mrs. Bixby of Boston, Mass.
November 21, 1864

Dear Madam: I have been shown in the files of the
War Department a statement of the Adjutant- General of
Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who
have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak
and fruitless must be any words of mine which should at-


tempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelm-
ing. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the con-
solation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic
they died to save. I pray that our heavenly Father may
assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you
only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the
solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a
sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours very sincerely and respectfully,

Abraham Lincoln.

7-8 Letter to General Joseph Hooker

The spirit is shown by the closing words: "Beware
of rashness, but with energy and sleepless vigilance go
forward and give us victories."
— Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln. — Nicolay and
Hay, II, 306.

7-8 First Inaugural Address

(Extracts, especially from the latter part, including his closing
words, to be selected.)

"We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be
enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not
break our bonds of affection. The mystic cords of memory,
stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every
living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will
yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as
surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."


The Presidential Oath Taken by Lincoln

A cheer greeted Lincoln at the close of this address.
Chief- Justice Taney arose, the clerk opened his Bible, and
Mr. Lincoln, laying his hand upon it, with deliberation
pronounced the oath:

"I, Abraham Lincoln, do solemnly swear that I will
faithfully execute the office of President of the United States,
and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and
defend the Constitution of the United States."

So long as liberty remains: so long as Christianity
and civilization are the legacy of the race, will history re-
cord how faithfully that sacred vow was fulfilled.

— Dr. Win. Jayne.

6-8 How Shall We Fortify Against Disregarding

the Laws?

Suitable for a reading. An extract is: "Let reverence
for the laws be breathed by every American mother to the
lisping babe that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in
schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written
in primers, spelling books, and in almanacs ; let it be preached
from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and en-
forced in Courts of Justices; in short, let it become the
political religion of the nation."
— Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln — Nicolay and
Hay, I, 12.


Gettysburg Address
November, 19, 1863

This address was originally composed by Lincoln on
a piece of brown wrapping paper, partly while aboard the
train and partly at Gettysburg. Lincoln feared it would
be a failure.

"Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought
forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty,
and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created

"Now we are engaged in a great Civil War, testing
whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so
dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-
field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of
that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave
their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether
fitting and proper that we should do this.

"But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate — we
cannot consecrate — we cannot hallow — this ground. The
brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have con-
secrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.
The world will little note nor long remember what we say
here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for
us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished
work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly
advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the
great task remaining before us — that from these honored
dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they
gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly


resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that
this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom;
and that government of the people, by the people, for the
people, shall not perish from the earth."

The eloquent Hon. Edward Everett was orator of the
day. At the conclusion of his address he was heartily con-
gratulated by Mr. Lincoln, to whom he replied: "Ah,
Mr. President, gladly would I exchange my entire hundred
pages to have been the author of your twenty lines."

See "Lincoln at Gettysburg."

— Clark E. Carr. ( McClurg. )
"The Perfect Tribute,"

— M. R. Andrews. (Scribner's, Vol. XL.)

7-8 Second Inaugural Address

The entire selection may be used, especially the closing
words :

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with
firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let
us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the
nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the
battle, and for his widow, and his orphan — to do all which
may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among
ourselves, and with all nations."



A Poem by Lincoln — His Favorites — Poems
on Lincoln

Lincoln wrote the following poem in 1844, when he
visited the neighborhood in Indiana where he was raised
and his mother was buried:

My childhood's home I see again,

And sadden with the view;
And still, as memory crowds my brain,

There's pleasure in it too.

Nearly twenty years have passed away

Since here I bid farewell
To woods and fields and scenes of play,

And playmates loved so well.

Where many were, but few remain

Of old familiar things;
But seeing them to mind again

The lost and absent brings.

The friends I left that parting day,

How changed, as time has sped!
Young childhood grown strong manhood gray,

And half of all are dead.



I hear the loved survivors tell

How naught from death could save,
Till every sound appears a knell,

And every spot a grave

I range the fields with pensive tread,

And pace the hollow rooms,
And feel (companion of the dead)

I'm living in the tombs.

Favorite Poems of Lincoln
"A Man's a Man for a' That." —Bums.
"Last Leaf." — Holmes.

Oh! Why Should the Spirit of Mortal be

Proud ?
Lincoln recited this at every opportunity for some
thirty years.

Oh! why should the spirit of mortal be proud?
Like a swift flitting meteor, a fast flying cloud,
The flash of the lightning, a break of the wave,
He passes from life to his rest in the grave.

The leaves of the oak and the willow shall fade,
Be scattered around and together be laid;
And the young and the old and the low and the high
Shall molder to dust and together shall lie.

The infant a mother attended and loved,
The mother that infant's affection who proved,
The husband that mother and infant who blest,
Each, all are away to their dwellings of rest.


The maid on whose cheek, on whose brow, in whose eye,
Shone beauty and pleasure, her triumphs are by;
And the mem'ry of those who loved her and praised
Are alike from the minds of the living erased.

The hand of the king that the scepter hath borne,
The brow of the priest that the miter hath worn,
The eye of the sage and the heart of the brave
Are hidden and lost in the depths of the grave.

The peasant whose lot was to sow and to reap,
The herdsman who climbed with his goats up the steep,
The beggar who wandered in search of his bread,
Have faded away like the grass that we tread.

The saint who enjoyed the communion of heaven,
The sinner who dared to remain unforgiven,
The wise and the foolish, the guilty and just,
Have quietly mingled their bones in the dust.

So the multitude goes like the flower or the weed
That withers away to let others succeed,
So the multitude comes, even those we behold,
To repeat every tale that has often been told.

For we are the same that our fathers have been;
We see the same sights our fathers have seen;
We drink the same streams, and view the same sun,
And run the same course our fathers have run.

The thoughts we are thinking our fathers would think,
From the death we are shrinking our fathers would shrink:
To the life we are clinging they also would cling,
But it speeds from us all like a bird on the wing.


They loved, but the story we cannot unfold
They scorned, but the heart of the haughty is cold;
They grieved, but no wail from their slumber will come;
They joyed, but the tongue of their gladness is dumb.

They died, ay, they died. We things that are now,
That walk on the turf that lies over their brow,
And make in their dwellings a transient abode,
Meet the things that they met on their pilgrimage road.

Yea, hope and despondency, pleasure and pain,
Are mingled together in sunshine and rain;
And the smile and the tear, the song and the dirge,
Still follow each other like surge upon surge.

'Tis the wink of an eye, 'tis the draught of a breath,
From the blossom of health to the paleness of death,
From the gilded salon to the bier and the shroud —
Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud?

— William Knox

Poems on Lincoln

"Ode for the Burial of Abraham Lincoln." — Bryant.
"O Captain! My Captain!" — Walt Whitman.

Lowell, in his Commemoration Ode has characterized
Lincoln with lines which may well be said to "touch the
high- water mark of American poetry":

The kindly-earnest, brave, foreseeing man,
Sagacious, patient, dreading praise, not blame.
New birth of our new soil, the first American.

Recantation made by the London Punch — a paper
that had used Lincoln as a subject of caricature and ridicule :

4 2

Yes, he had lived to shame me from my sneer,
To lame my pencil, and confute my pen —

To make me own this hind — of princes peer,
This railsplitter — a true-born king of men.

Lincoln: A Retrospect

Now that the winds of Peace have blown away
The battle smoke which long obscured the day,
Now that all wrath is as a tale of old
And human flesh is minted into gold
No longer, and the straggling thunders cease
And all the land is wrapt in busy peace —
There towers in our sight this man of worth
Above the selfish kings that ruled the earth.
He did not yearn for hopeless things, nor sigh
For purple kingdoms verging on the sky,
Nor long for irised landscapes shimmering fair
In a blown bubble of inconstant air,
But with great vision of the years to be
He shaped a mighty nation's destiny
And gave all man can give — his life he gave —
To weld the broken state and free the slave.

Gave resolution to the ruler's pen;

The books he conned beside the open fire

Made strong the brain which battles could not tire;

The law courts with forensic shift and strife

The ax the gaunt youth swung in dale and glen

Prepared him for that tragedy, his life.

He never held his ways from men apart,

Yet kept a sanctuary in his heart

Whence flowed a stream of love and hope, to bless,


Pure as a clear spring in a wilderness.

He trusted God — bearing the weight of war —

As olden captains trusted in a star.

And yet he was not all the stolid oak:

Full well could he the foeman's smile provoke

With homely proverb or a timely joke.

— Harry H. Kemp

Calm and serene unto the end he past
And bravely met his martyrdom at last . .
They crossed his thin, worn hands upon his breast.
God gave the country peace and Lincoln rest !

— The Independent, February 29, 1908.


Fate struck the hour!

A crisis hour of time.
The tocsin of a people clanging forth
Thro' the wild South and thro' the startled North
Called for a leader, master of his kind,
Fearless and firm, and with clear foreseeing mind;
Who should not flinch from calumny or scorn;

Wielding a giant power

Humbly, with faith sublime.
God knew the man His sovereign grace had sealed;
God touched the man and Lincoln stood revealed!

— /. L. H. By permission 0} The Outlook.


5-8 Henry Ward Beecher's Eulogy

Four years ago, O Illinois, we took from your midst
an untried man from among the people. Behold! we
return to you a mighty conquercr. Not ours any more,
but the nation's. Not ours, but the world's. Give him
place, O ye prairies. — Extract.

5-8 Lincoln was the grandest figure of the fiercest Civil

War. He is the gentlest memory of our world.

— Robert G. Ingersoll.

6-8 The Career and Character of Abraham Lincoln

We cannot follow this contest. You know its gigantic
proportions ; that it lasted four years instead of three months ;
that in its progress instead of 75,000 men, more than 2,000,-
000 were enrolled on the side of the Government alone;
that the aggregate cost and loss to the nation approximated
to $5,000,000,000, and that no less than 300,000 brave
and precious lives were sacrificed on each side. History


Online LibraryLilian Clara BergoldAbraham Lincoln centennial : a collection of authentic stories, with poems, songs, and programs, for the boys, girls, and teachers of elementary schools → online text (page 2 of 3)