To this day, sixteenth U.S. president Abraham Lincoln remains one of the most inspirational—and often quoted—speakers in American history. Respected for his part in the country’s reunification, for his moral leadership, and humanity in the face of crises, there was much more to this leader than his height—six foot four—and his penchant for tall hats. Here are nine interesting facts you need to know.
Interesting Abraham Lincoln Facts
1. President Lincoln was the enactor of the Emancipation Proclamation.
“Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.”
The Emancipation Proclamation led to freedom for over 3 million slaves. But before that, President Lincoln faced major opposition from within his cabinet. Many of his own people warned him away from issuing the executive order, calling it ‘radical’.
Overcoming that hurdle, he had to issue the presidential proclamation to the Southern states—twice, an interesting fact about Abraham Lincoln and Emancipation Proclamation. In September 1862, Lincoln dispensed a preliminary draft of the document, ordering the rebels to stand down by January of the following year. It didn’t. Redrafted and reissued on the deadline date, the rest—as we now know—is history.
2. He didn’t say women should vote.
In the early 1900s, the fight for a woman’s right to vote was gaining national momentum. Washington suffragists picketed with signs stating, “Lincoln said women should vote.”
Heavily editing an excerpt from a letter Lincoln wrote in 1836, the signs read, “I go for all sharing the privileges of government who assist in bearing its burdens, by no means excluding women.”
The true excerpt, as given by Lincoln biographer David Herbert Donald, reads, “I go for all sharing the privileges of the government, who assist in bearing its burdens. I go for admitting all whites to the right of suffrage, who pay taxes or bear arms, (by no means excluding females.)”
Donald points out that the former president’s words had no relevance to the suffrage movement. He suggests it may have been a joke because when Lincoln wrote the letter the vast majority of women could not pay taxes or bear arms.
3. He was the first president to use the telegraph
President Lincoln was an avid fan of technology and a voracious reader with a curious mind. Charles Tinker, a telegraph operator from Lincoln’s home state, had a chance meeting with the soon-to-be president in 1857. He recalled how Lincoln had quizzed him on the device’s workings and mechanisms.
When Lincoln learned that he was to become the 16th President of the United States, he found out by telegram, an interesting fact about Abraham Lincoln.
4. Lincoln invented something—and owned the patent
It seems fitting that someone with such a curious mind and fascination with technology would be the only U.S. president to hold a patent.
So what did he invent? Tired of his own boating mishaps, he invented a contraption that lifted a boat over shoals and sandbanks, using inflatable air chambers on either side of the vessel.
5. Our 16th president was also a licensed bartender
Looking around the internet, you’ll find copious references to this former president’s sense of humor. Historians credit him as being a very good listener with a genuine interest in people. If he hadn’t been a self-taught lawyer and the most influential man in the country, maybe he’d have made a good bartender.
He did not make a very good bartender. Owning a bar didn’t last long, as Lincoln’s business partner was an alcoholic, and the future POTUS preferred talking to customers over handling business affairs. Regardless, he remains the only U.S. president to have held a license to serve liquor.
6. President Lincoln is in the wrestling hall of fame (not the WWE one)
This rumor took on a life of its own. Yes, Abraham Lincoln is in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame (NWHF), keeping company with the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, and George Washington. No, the WWE Wrestling Hall of Fame did not honor him, despite the popular (photoshopped) photographic evidence.
And yes, he was a champion. Whilst on the campaign trail in the 1860s, Lincoln claimed to have won every wrestling matches until one opponent, a Lorenzo Thompson, threw him.
7. He shares his birthday with Charles Darwin
Both notable historic figures were born on February 12, 1809. They were also both vocal in their opposition to slavery, rose to influential positions in later life, lost their mothers early on (Darwin at age eight, and Lincoln at age nine), and were avid readers of Shakespeare, not a well-known fact about Abraham Lincoln.
8. He was an animal lover
The former president always had dogs and cats in his home, which he claimed were for his children. Some psychologists speculate that this may have had more to do with animals being uplifting for Lincoln, who dealt with depression for much of his adult life.
Of his many four-legged companions, one is more famous than the rest. His mixed-breed, short-coat dog, Fido, was the first presidential dog ever photographed, and possibly the reason the name became so popular in American culture.
“If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”
9. Lincoln’s assassination was part of a larger plot
Former president Lincoln holds the unenviable title as the first U.S. president assassinated while holding office. His death on April 15, 1865, marked the beginning of a lengthy period of mourning across the country. Unveiling an unsuccessful conspiracy, officials determined that the president was one of three men targeted by a group of individuals intent on reigniting the Confederate cause, a sad fact about Abraham Lincoln. The remaining targets—Secretary of State William Seward, and Vice President Andrew Johnson—survived.
Conclusion (and a bonus fact . . .)
From these nine Abraham Lincoln facts, it’s clear that not only was he one of the most inspirational speakers in American history—thanks to his legendary Gettysburg Address—he was also a multi-talented and fascinating leader.
And here’s a bonus ‘Honest Abe’ fact: our former president hated the nickname ‘Abe’.
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