Monthly Archives: August 2017


The following is one of Mr. Lincoln’s stories. These he told often in private conversation, rarely in his speeches.

“I once knew a good, sound churchman, whom we’ll call Brown, who was on a committee to erect a bridge over a very dangerous and rapid river. Architect after architect failed, and at last Brown said he had a friend named Jones, who had built several bridges, and could build this. ‘Let’s have him in,’ said the committee. In came Jones. ‘Can you build this bridge, sir?’ ‘Yes,’ replied Jones; ‘I could build a bridge to infernal regions, if necessary.’ The sober committee were horrified; butr when Jones retired, Brown thought it but fair to defend his friend. ‘I know Jones so well,’ said he, ‘and he is so honest a man, and so good an architect, that, if he states soberly and positively that he can build a bridge to Hades–why, I believe it. But I have my doubts about the abutment on the infernal side.’ “So,” Lincoln added, “when politicians said they could harmonize the Northern and Southern wings of the Democracy, why, I believe them. But I had my doubts about the abutment on the Southern side.”

Originally posted 2008-03-03 16:26:54.

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Wake up, snakes, pelicans, and Sesh’ners!
Don’t yer hear ‘um comin’—
Comin’ on de run?

Wake up, I tell yer! Git up Jefferson!
Bobolishion’s comin’—

Originally posted 2008-03-02 22:42:29.

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One morning, at the breakfast table, when I, an unobserved spectator, happened to be present, Calhoun was observed to gaze frequently at his right hand, and brush it with his left in a hurried and nervous manner. He did this so often that it excited attention. At length one of the persons comprising the breakfast part–his name, I think, is Toombs, and he is a member of Congress from Georgia–took upon himself to ask the occasion of Mr. Calhoun’s disquietude.

“Does your hand pain you?” he asked of Mr. Calhoun.

To this Mr. Calhoun replied, in rather a hurried manner,–

“Pshaw! it is nothing but a dream I had last night, and which makes me see perpetually a large black spot, like an ink blotch, upon the back of my right hand; an optical illusion, I suppose.”

Of course these words excited the curiosity of the company, but no one ventured to beg the details of this singular dream, until Toombs asked quietly,–

“What was your dream like? I am not very superstitious about dreams; but sometimes they have a great deal of truth in them.”

“But this was such a peculiarly absurd dream,” said Mr. Calhoun, again brushing the back of his right hand; “however, if it does not intrude too much on the time of our friends, I will relate it to you.”

Of course the company were profuse in their expressions of anxiety to know all about the dream, and Mr. Calhoun related it.

“At a late hour last night, as I was sitting in my room, engaged in writing, I was astonished by the entrance of a visitor, who, without a word, took a seat opposite me at my table. This surprised me, as I had given particular orders to the servant that I should on no account be disturbed. The manner in which the intruder entered, so perfectly self-possessed, taking his seat opposite me without a word, as though my room and all within it belonged to him, excited in me as much surprise as indignation. As I raised my head to look into his features, over the top of my shaded lamp, I discovered that he was wrapped in a thin cloak, which effectually concealed his face and features from my view; and as I raised my head, he spoke:–

“‘What are you writing, senator from South Carolina?’

“I did not think of his impertinence at first, but answered him voluntarily,–

“‘I am writing a plan for the dissolution of the American Union.’

“(You know, gentlemen, that I am expected to produce a plan of dissolution in the event of certain contingencies.) To this the intruder replied, in the coolest manner possible,–

“‘ Senator from South Carolina, will you allow me to look at your hand, your right hand?

“He rose, the cloak fell, and I beheld his face. Gentlemen, the sight of that face struck me like a thunder-clap. It was the face of a dead man, whom extraordinary events had called back to life. The features were those of Gen. George Washington. He was dressed in the Revolution’s costume, such as you see in the Patent Office.”

Here Mr. Calhoun paused, apparently agitated. His agitation, I need not tell you, was shared by the company. Toombs at length broke the embarrassing pause.

“Well, what was the issue of this scene?”

Mr. Calhoun resumed:–

“The intruder, as I have said, rose and asked to look at my right hand. As though I had not the power to refuse, I extended it. The truth is, I felt a strange thrill pervade me at his touch; he grasped it, and held it near the light, thus affording full time to examine every feature. It was the face of Washington. After holding my hand for a moment, he looked at me steadily, and said in a quiet way,–

“‘And with this right hand, senator from South Carolina, you would sign your name to a paper declaring the Union dissolved?’

“I answered in the affirmative.

“‘ Yes,’ I said, “if a certain contingency arises, I will sign my name to the Declaration of Dissolution.’

“But at that moment a black blotch appeared on the back of my hand, whic I seem to see now.

“‘What is that?’ said I, alarmed, I know not why, at the blotch on my hand.

“‘That,’ said he, dropping my hand, ‘is the mark by which Benedict Arnold is known in the next world.’

“He said no more, gentlemen, but drew from beneath his cloak which he laid upon the table–laid upon the very paper on which I was writing. This object, gentlemen, was a skeleton.

“‘There,’ said he, ‘there are the bones of Isaac Hayne, who was hung at Charleston by the British. He gave his life in order to establish the Union. When ou put your name to a Declaration of Dissolution, why, you may as well have the bones of Isac Hayne before you–he was a South Carolinian, and so are you. But there was no blotch on his right hand.’

“With these words the intruder left the room. I started back from the contact with the dead man’s bones, and–awoke. Overcome by labor, I had fallen asleep, and had been dreaming. Was it not a singular dream?”

All the company answered in the affirmative, and Toombs muttered, “Singular, very singular,” and at the same time looking curiously at the back of his right hand, while Mr. Calhoun placed his head between his hands, and seemed buried in thought.

Originally posted 2008-03-01 16:19:29.

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A chaplain in one of the regiments on the Potomac narrates the case of a sick soldier, which strikingly illustrates the reasoning of many men in the camp and out of it. Some one had mentioned to the soldier the case of the Vermonter who was sentenced to be shot for sleeping on his post. During the evening following, the fever set in violently; the sick man imagined he was the one sentenced to be shot. The surgeon being called, the following conversation ensued:–

“Doctor, I am to be shot in the morning, and which you to send for the chaplain. I desire to make all necessary preparations for my end.”

“They shall not shoot you; I’ll take care of you. Whoever comes to take you from here, I shall have them arrested and put under guard.”

“Will you, dear doctor? Thank you, thank you–well, then, you need not send for the chaplain ‘just yet.'”

Originally posted 2008-02-29 18:33:51.

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