Aolib.comFragment of Photochrom print of the front of Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany (ca. 1897)

Lincoln's Yarns and Stories: a complete collection of the funny and witty anecdotes that made Lincoln famous as America's greatest story teller »

By Alexander Kelly McClure

“Well, yes. I saw some very curious things,” was the President’s rejoinder.

“What?” asked Secretary Seward.

“Well, there’s the word hominy, for instance. We have just ordered a lot of that stuff for the troops. I see how the word originated. I notice it came from the Latin word homo–a man.

“When we decline homo, it is:

“’Homo–a man.

“’Hominis–of man.

“’Homini–for man.’

“So you see, hominy, being ’for man,’ comes from the Latin. I guess those soldiers who don’t know Latin will get along with it all right–though I won’t rest real easy until I hear from the Commissary Department on it.”


One day, while listening to one of the wise men who had called at the White House to unload a large cargo of advice, the President interjected a remark to the effect that he had a great reverence for learning.

“This is not,” President Lincoln explained, “because I am not an educated man. I feel the need of reading. It is a loss to a man not to have grown up among books.”

“Men of force,” the visitor answered, “can get on pretty well without books. They do their own thinking instead of adopting what other men think.”

“Yes,” said Mr. Lincoln, “but books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new, after all.”

This was a point the caller was not willing to debate, and so he cut his call short.


Lincoln made his first speech when he was a mere boy, going barefoot, his trousers held up by one suspender, and his shock of hair sticking through a hole in the crown of his cheap straw hat.

“Abe,” in company with Dennis Hanks, attended a political meeting, which was addressed by a typical stump speaker–one of those loud—voiced fellows who shouted at the top of his voice and waved his arms wildly.

At the conclusion of the speech, which did not meet the views either of “Abe” or Dennis, the latter declared that “Abe” could make a better speech than that. Whereupon he got a dry—goods box and called on “Abe” to reply to the campaign orator.

Lincoln threw his old straw hat on the ground, and, mounting the dry—goods box, delivered a speech which held the attention of the crowd and won him considerable applause. Even the campaign orator admitted that it was a fine speech and answered every point in his own “oration.”

Dennis Hanks, who thought “Abe” was about the greatest man that ever lived, was delighted, and he often told how young “Abe” got the better of the trained campaign speaker.


It was in 1830, when “Abe” was just twenty—one years of age, that the Lincoln family moved from Gentryville, Indiana, to near Decatur, Illinois, their household goods being packed in a wagon drawn by four oxen driven by “Abe.”

The winter previous the latter had “worked” in a country store in Gentryville and before undertaking the journey he invested all the money he had–some thirty dollars–in notions, such as needles, pins, thread, buttons and other domestic necessities. These he sold to families along the route and made a profit of about one hundred per cent.

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