Get Relaxed

Abraham Lincoln had an innate ability to perceive the truth. He could receive information unbiased by filters and prejudices, process it, and then communicate it in the common man's vernacular so that everyone could understand. This ability was part gift, part practice. Lincoln knew that in an informational setting people tend to be more relaxed, more direct, more truthful than if they were face-to-face in the Oval Office. 

We can learn from Lincoln. When we need to know the truth in our own lives it is best to do this fact finding process in a comfortable environment. Take people out to lunch and sit at a quiet table or invite them over for dinner. Get them relaxed and then start the talking/fact-finding process. 


Meeting others face to face--a sure way to success

Lincoln was a natural wanderer. As a young attorney he traveled the lawyer circuit working in the southern counties of Illinois. He traveled as far as Iowa to see first hand how to work his river boat vs bridge case. He moved a great deal as a child too, living first in Kentucky, then Indiana and finally, Illinois. And in each of these locals he was fast to make lasting friendships using his excellent communication skills, delivered in his famous, friendly, kindhearted manner.

Lincoln was born curious. He wanted to learn, and what better way to do this than to travel and talk to people. Lincoln had a great deal of respect for all individuals, and could cray on conversations with statesmen and simpletons alike. When Lincoln was president, his secretaries, John Nicolay and John Hay would say he spent 75 percent of his time meeting with people. The secretaries would often warn Lincoln that they felt he was too busy with pressing matters to see yet other visitor. Lincoln respond by striding past his frustrated secretarys with arm outstretched wide, ready to meet his next guest and make them feel welcomed and valued. 

It was not unusual to see Lincoln enter a train and observe the carload of travelers jump to their feet to meet their president, whom they could call a friend; being that they had met with him on numerous occasions. Lincoln would make the rounds, bending over and greeting each one of them, addressing them using their first name, and providing a vigorous hand shake and bright smile which met their eager gaze. 

Lincoln knew that understanding the issues of state, as conveyed by his constituents, was a sure way to most directly work for the good of all, and provide decisive answers to important questions. In talking to people, Lincoln was collecting data and understanding the issues. He could then suggest proper strategies in times of crisis to his generals. Simply put, there was a chain of knowledge which Lincoln collected first hand and understood and conveyed to those who worked for him in positions of power and influence. It was in collecting this knowledge and disseminating it in proper fashion, and in a timely manner, to the right people in power, which helped Lincoln gain confidence from those he served, With their blessing, Lincoln he could then swiftly do the job he was born to do--keep our nation together.

We can learn from Lincoln's wandering leadership style. To provide the best possible product to your market, and to have the item priced tight, and to aid your followers with clear helpful customer service, one must know the buyer. And what better way to do this, than to meet with them often, and listen to what they have to say.

 Text based on, Lincoln on Leadership by Donald T. Phillips


“The whole country is our soil.” -- Abraham Lincoln

It is July 5, 1863. and General Meade has just won the three-day battle of Gettysburg. Lincoln is elated, as are the people of the north. However, instead of crushing Lee's army as it retreated, Meade hesitated and decided to simply follow Lee south to the Potomac River. When Lincoln read a telegraph describing the turn of events he shouted, “My God. is that all?” 

When Lee's troops reached the Potomac River's edge they found that the high waters prevented them from crossing over to safety. Lincoln knew they were trapped. Now, if Meade would attack the cornered Confederate army and smash them the war would be over and victory secured. Instead, again Meade hesitated. Over a period of seven days, he remained in an indecisive stall, while the waters receded and Lee and his army escaped into Virginia. 

When Lincoln learned this news, he said to Secretary of Navy Gideon Wells, “And that, my God, is the last of the Army of the Potomac. There is bad faith somewhere. Meade has been pressed and urged, but only one of his generals was for an immediate attack, was ready to pounce on Lee; the rest held back. What does it mean, Mr. Wells?” Lincoln had never been seen so distraught. Lincoln's son, Robert remembers seeing his dad, head in his hands, sobbing at his desk. 

Lincoln spent over two years looking for a general who knew that the way to win quickly and with the least blood shed was to crush the opponent. On March 10, 1864, Lincoln honored Ulysses S. Grant with the title of lieutenant general. Following the appointment, Lincoln encouraged and guided Grant in several private meetings. Lincoln wanted his fresh new leader to get off to a good start and behave well in public. Many top executives follow this practice with fresh leadership. 

On May 3, 1863, just under two months after he took full command, Grant executed an enormous attack at Lee in the bloody battle known as the Wilderness Campaign. Lincoln waited for word from the front lines. He heard nothing for five days. Grant finally wired that he had attacked relentlessly and suffered high causalities. He forced Lee to retreat by attacking him without ceasing, but not winning any battles. "I propose to fight it on this line if it takes all summer," wrote Grant.

This was music to Lincoln's ears. Lincoln sent a telegram to Grant, "Hold on with a bulldog grip, and chew and choke as much as possible." Grant laughed and said, "Lincoln has more nerve than any of his advisers."

Lincoln's Winning Ways

(1) Choose as your top people those who crave responsibility and are willing to take risks.

(2) If staff complain about a chief officer and their gripes prove to be true, remove the officer.

(3) Provide all the support you can to your leaders and believe that they will go and do the best that they can with what they are given.

(4) Allow a three to five month grace period to access whether they will perform to your level of expectation.

(5) If the officer does not perform, immediately ease back on responsibilities and allow them time to adjust and turn their performance around.

(6) Aggressive officers like boldness of character and often select staff with their own characteristics.

(7) Let the goal be pressed.

Text source, Lincoln on Leadership, by Donald T. Phillips


A Drop of Honey:  Abraham Lincoln and the Art of Persuasion

In the battles he faced, Lincoln armed himself with three attributes in his favor: (1) the belief that he could win; (2) the knowledge of how he could win; and most importantly, (3) a certainty that his cause was honorable and worth fighting for. 

Lincoln understood that there is always an assortment of means to the same end, but when it was an option, Lincoln always employed the use of his impeccable people skills.  Whether he was attempting to motivate the behavior of other leaders, his generals or everyday people, Lincoln could move people to his way of thinking.  With his military commanders, Lincoln knew that if he could create a sincere and caring work atmosphere--not unlike a safe home--he could win the admiration of his generals, and in turn, win their hearts and persuade their actions.

When the conduct of men is designed to be influenced, persuasion, kind, unassuming persuasion, should ever be adopted. It is an old and a true maxim, that a "drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall .                                                                               --February 22, 1842 Temperance Address

Cultivating a secure attachment with his generals involved communication, contact, camaraderie.  That is called RELATIONSHIP-BUILDING.  Lincoln met with his leaders often, and frequently penned long letters. These meetings and letters conveyed appreciation for his leaders' strong points, as well as his awareness of their shortcomings. Lincoln used these communications to gently suggest and persuade, rather than to reprove, while still allowing his generals complete command over their ultimate decisions and actions. After face to face meetings, Lincoln would often provide a recap letter to the generals which covered what he suggested should be done. This practice offered Lincoln a second chance to persuade his generals when they reviewed his letter at a later date.  That is called REINFORCEMENT.

Abraham knew that coercing his staff to follow his line of thinking would only create a dictatorship, which in turn would lead to abandonment and ultimately defeat for his Union army. It is ownership--whether it be of an idea or a course of action--that breeds commitment.  Lincoln knew that persuasion was a far superior way to lead.

Lincoln held the Golden Rule sacred.  It was a core concept in his "art of persuasion" leadership style. He treated people the way he wished to be treated. He knew that no one wanted to be forced to do something against their will. He also believed in the inherent goodness of most people.  It was his point of view that people genuinely want to do things that make a difference. However, he understood the egocentric nature of the human animal and knew that people are especially motivated when their task stems from their own ideas and is a product of their own creativity. Even given that, Lincoln realized that persuading people gently with great honesty--and a righteous cause--would empower them and lead them to do as he wanted. This co-operative strategy, he knew, would strengthen the possibilities of success for the greater cause.

What is your cause?  First, ask yourself three questions:  do you believe it can be accomplished, do you have a vision for how to accomplish your desired goals, and are you assured of the intrinsic "right-ness" of what you are doing?

How do you bring people on board? To win the cause, you first must win the hearts of the people around you--be they staff, family, friends--and convince them that you are a sincere friend and that they are important, too--not just the cause itself.  People need to believe that they have intrinsic value and are not simply a means to a specific end.

It is important to conduct full and complete communications with your staff and heads of your departments using both spoken and written words to convey your vision; this empowers them to act on their own with confidence, with everyone moving in the same direction. Remember Lincoln's conviction that dictatorial leadership leads to failure, loss and abandonment.

A powerful leader avoids giving orders; instead, the effective executive does the groundwork so that what needs to be done can be delivered in the form of suggestion or encouragement.

Let the people around you come to the idea and develop the vision for themselves, in an organic, individualized process, and then believe that your staff wants to do their work knowing that their contribution will make a difference.

Text source, Lincoln on Leadership, by Donald T. Phillips


LINCOLN ON LEADERSHIP: How Lincoln trusted his leaders even when the stakes were high

For most of us, it is difficult to trust people when there is a great deal at stake.  Lincoln, however, was noted for the trust he placed in the leaders under his command.

Lincoln instinctively understood that you cannot trust an individual you do not know well; so he made a point of getting to know his people well.  He did this by developing strong relationships with his subordinates and by cultivating alliances both personally and professionally.

Lincoln wanted to be able to gauge just how his staff would react to any given situation. He got to know his people intimately, being able to point out the ones who jumped to the task and who could be counted on to get the job done in an emergency, as well as those who stalled and procrastinated.  He understood which of them were bright, clever, committed, and ethical or, in the alternative, dull, rebellious and stubborn. This way our 16th president could put the right person in charge of the proper task. 

Lincoln also wanted his people to know him and understand what he expected so that they would know how to respond to their work situations as they encountered them. If Lincoln's generals knew what he wanted, they could move forward without a direct order from the Commander-in-Chief. Because of their intimate understanding of Lincoln's methods, goals and philosophy, the generals could attack the enemy directly, without having to consult Lincoln on every detail, thus avoiding costly delays.

How can you follow Lincoln's example and have team members you can trust to get the job done right?

(1) Develop trust by getting to know each other. Allow your staff to learn that you are steadfast, resolute and firm in your own beliefs and a strong work ethic in moving toward your personal tasks--and just as committed to understanding them as valued people and team members. In doing so, you will gain respect from your staff and their work efforts will match your strong output.

(2) Invest resources in better understanding the patterns of human nature.

(3) Allowing others to see your compassionate and caring nature will further you in developing successful working relationships with others.

(4) Foster hope.  When you eliminate hope, you create desperation. Instead believe in the outlook that your goal is attainable while encouraging others often, and with true honesty, reinforcing that their contribution to the work is valued and necessary for the expected outcome.

(5) Avoid micro-managing your team.  Once you have trained them well, learned to know them, communicated your goals, methods and philosophy, then trust them to use their talent and do the job you hired them to do.

Text source, Lincoln on Leadership, by Donald T. Phillips


Steadfast Resolve

The setting was Chicago and the year 1860.  A bevy of candidates was vying for the Republican Party presidential nomination.  Although Lincoln desired the Republican nomination as intensely as any of his opponents, he did not permit his competitive spirit to replace the kindness and open-hearted nature which he shared with his advocates and competitors alike.  His political ambition was never allowed to alter his strongly held values, morals or beliefs--and it certainly never altered his unwavering commitment to the unpopular and divisive anti-slavery cause.

After all the ballots had been counted, the individuals who nominated Lincoln as their candidate may not have understood all of those admirable qualities.  Little did they realize then, but history would confirm that they had, in fact, chosen the best man for the supreme challenge looming heavily over their country.

This portrait of Lincoln is based on the beautiful photograph taken by Christopher S. German, of Springfield, Illinois, on February 9, 1861, just months into his fateful presidency.


How Lincoln Healed

In 1847, during Lincoln's first year in Congress, Samuel C. Busy, a young medical doctor, enjoyed meals with Abraham Lincoln at Mrs. B. Spriggs' Boarding House on Duff Green's Row, a few blocks from the Capitol in Washington D.C*. It was common for members of Congress to board in small "clubs," much like students today.  In the boarding houses, relationships were developed over shared meals and hours of conversation between the boarders.

Reminiscing about those times visiting Lincoln in the boarding house, Busy wrote: "Lincoln would often interrupt tense conversation with an anecdote that had a healing effect on everyone, including the disputants. When about to tell an anecdote during a meal he would lay down his knife and fork, place his elbows upon the table, rest his face between his hands, and begin with the words, `that reminds me.`"

As Lincoln started to speak "everybody prepared for the explosions sure to follow."  Lincoln was gifted with the ability to influence "the tenor of the discussion" so that the individuals involved would either excuse themselves from the table in good humor or continue the discussion free of malice. Dr. Busy stated that Lincoln's "amicable disposition made him very popular with the household."

I would have loved to have been a resident at that boarding house during that period in time. What a teacher Lincoln was... and still is!


Lincoln's Thoughts on "Roving Leadership":  Leave Your Office and Listen to the People

Lincoln had an instinctive understanding of leadership, and he knew that it didn't happen at a desk.  Lincoln realized that when people know that they genuinely have quick and easy access to their leader, they will tend to view this person in a more proactive and trustworthy light.  No matter whether they are staff members or political constituents, country people or city people, rich or poor:  people trust someone who listens to them.

Lincoln also knew that people tend to be more comfortable, direct and infinitely more honest in their own haunts than if they were face to face with him in the White House. What it boils down to is that Lincoln wanted honest talk with honest people. To do the job his constituents had elected him to do, Lincoln needed to know the truth.  Lincoln accomplished this by going out amongst the people, roving the countryside, asking questions and listening.  Lincoln visited his generals in their camps, often near the front lines. Lincoln also sent trusted advisors to talk to people in locations where he could be due to scheduling conflicts or other obstacles

Lincoln had an innate, uncanny ability to perceive the truth.  He could receive information unbiased by filters and prejudices, process it, and then communicate it in a common man's vernacular which could easily be understood by all.  An important aspect of Lincoln's broad appeal--to country people, New York high society and war generals alike--was that everything he said resonated with truth.  .

We can all learn from Lincoln.  In short: get out of the office and visit and listen to people.  And with this in mind, please feel free to reply with your comments or suggestions.... I'm listening.



"Ten thousand inquires will be made as to the looks, habits, tastes and other characteristics of Honest Abe," the Chicago Press and Tribune wrote. "We anticipate a few of them... Always clean, he is never fashionable; he is careless but not slovenly... In his personal habits, Mr. Lincoln is as simple as a child... his food is plain and nutritious. He never drinks intoxicating liquors of any sort... He is not addicted to tobacco... If Mr. Lincoln is elected President, he will carry but little that is ornamental to the White House. The country must accept his sincerity, his ability and his honesty, in the mold in which they are cast"

Lincoln was one of the most amazing presidents we have ever been blessed with, and many characteristics went into making him who he was, including his minimal comportment routine. Lincoln worked 16 hour days during his presidency. As I see it, Lincoln simply didn't have the time or inclination to fuss in front of a mirror. For me Lincoln was a doer. He saw a great injustice which needed to be tended to, and he knew he possessed the abilities to heal his country's wounds.


A beacon to guide.

As Lincoln often said in many situations, slavery was a violation of the Declaration's "majestic interpretation of the economy of the Universe," allowed by the founders because it was already in place, but enacted by them in the course of ultimate eradication. Although unfulfilled in the present, the Declaration's solemn vow of equality was "a beacon to guide" not only "the whole race of man then living" but "their children and their children's children, and the countless myriads who should inhabit the earth in other ages."

These Lincoln quotes give me great hope for today and tomorrow.


Have faith that right makes right.

"Let us have faith that right makes might, and that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it." --Abraham Lincoln, Cooper Union Building, New York, February 27, 1860

These words delivered by Lincoln during his speech at the Cooper Union Building in New York were witnessed by nearly fifteen hundred people. Lincoln arrived in a new black suit, though the clothing was badly wrinkled from his travels. An observer recorded that "one of the legs of his trousers was up about two inches above his shoe; his hair was disheveled and stuck out like a rooster's feathers, his coat was altogether too large for him in the back, his arms much longer than his sleeves." Yet once he began to speak, his appearance became irrelevant as people were captivated by his earnest and commanding delivery.

Lincoln's campaign message was carefully worded, as he had done much study and evaluation of the attitudes of the founding fathers toward slavery. The founders had concluded that they had marked slavery "as an evil not to be extended." Lincoln's speech spoketo the people, hoping the fear and animosity of slaveholders might be assuaged if they understood that the Republicans desired only a return to the "old policy of the fathers." It was his hope that "the peace of the old times" could once more be established. He said the Republicans were the true conservatives, adhering "to the old and tried, against the new and untried."

My own feeling is that root beliefs in doing what is honorable and right must stand. Each individual holds great power for doing good when leading their life in such a way as to speak, with actions and words, what a best life can and should be. Lincoln did just that. As I research Lincoln and paint him daily, I find myself becoming a better person moment by moment and choice by choice as I follow his path through history, learning from him through his words and his life.


"...he will live as long as the world lives."

"The greatest of Napoleon, Caesar or Washington is only moonlight by the sun of Lincoln. His example is universal and will last thousands of years... He was bigger than his country--bigger than all the Presidents together... and as a great character he will live as long as the world lives."

--Leo Tolstoy, The World, New York, 1909


Win his heart.

In order to "win a man to your cause," Lincoln explained, you must first reach his heart.  The heart, Lincoln said, was "the great high road to his reason." Conversion of heart, he concluded, was the only road to victory--victory being that glorious day "when there shall be neither a slave nor a drunkard on the earth."

Very wise words indeed. 

Lincoln was a master at word-smithing, and over the years, his words have not lost their strength to touch, move and transform our hearts.


The Poet-President

During Lincoln's boyhood, owning books remained a luxury for only the very few Americans who were at that time living above the middle class. Simply gaining access to books--much less owning them--was difficult, as the Lincolns lived in remote areas where schools did not exist.

Lincoln, however, invested hours scouring the area and was able to obtain copies of the King James Bible, John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, Aesop's Fables, and William Scott's Lessons in Elocution.

Young Lincoln was unable to contain his delight, relatives said, when holding Pilgrim's Progress in his hands: "his eyes sparkled, and that day he could not eat, and that night he could not sleep." He read and re-read the Bible and Aesop's Fables so many times that for the remainder of his life he could recite entire passages and complicated stories from memory.

Reading biblical stories and Shakespeare countless times ingrained the very rhythm and poetry in his mind that would later emerge in the written works he penned as part of his legal and political career.  He is thus remembered as history's only poet-president.


Tapping into the American psyche

The Gettysburg Address did more than explain the vision Lincoln held dear to his heart--one in which a collection of states could one day be a nation of people.  United in country and home, this nation our president envisioned would be a place where everyone could be called a citizen. The greatest speech ever presented in history did even more. Those 284 words tapped into the psyche of the people and the country's founding belief that all individuals were created equal and all people could be citizens.

I can personally speak to this tremendous vision of our nation because it taps into my own powerful connection to this country. When I hear excerpts from Lincoln's famous address, I am reminded that I too am a citizen of our great nation, and I experience chills bolting through every cell of my being. I wipe tears from my eyes as I am humbled and filled with gratitude for having been blessed with birth here in our great, great nation!


Did Lincoln own slaves?

The answer is emphatically no.  Abraham Lincoln never owned slaves and historians confirm the records bear this out. Lincoln was quoted as saying, "If slavery isn't a sin, then nothing is." From these words, it is clear, in no uncertain terms, that our 16th president hated the idea of enslaving people.


Did a goat walk through the White House-True or False?

TRUE! Yes, Tad rode his pet goat right through the main meeting room. Ladies in hoop skirts needed to hike up their dresses to make room for the furry friend.



Lincoln, who lived and suffered with melancholy, came out stronger for it--able to wield his strength in the arena of service.  His strength, we have learned, developed as an outcropping of the depression. Lincoln's story of amazing accomplishment is one of survival. In other words, Lincoln didn't do great work because he solved the problem of his melancholy. The problem of his melancholy was the fuel he threw on the great projects of his life.


Forever Enjoy!

Lincoln's somber reflections on the experience of being elected to Congress were not what one--or even he, apparently--might have expected: "Though I am very grateful to our friends, for having done it, has not pleased me as much as I expected.”

Here we see that Lincoln had a “peculiar misfortune” of dreaming dreams “far exceeding all that any thing earthly can realize.”  He would set lofty goals, accomplish them, find that they failed to satisfy, then set another lofty goal.  Being elected to Congress, as history has shown us, was simply one step on Lincoln's ladder of accomplishments that, while laudable, failed to bring him the joy he anticipated.

I can only imagine that a man like Lincoln desired things not limited to the merely impossible but had ambitions that far exceeded what any other human might even consider reasonable to attempt. I wonder did he have a list:  get elected president, end slavery, win The Civil War, go down in history as America's most beloved president and have my face on every single cent... (and those are just some of the highlights).

His excessive ambition, however, coupled with a peculiar dissatisfaction in even mammoth achievements appears to be a trait shared by individuals who suffer from melancholy.  But it is also the stuff myths and legends are made of.  Being caught up in the throes of an unquenchable thirst is an overused storyline, a cliche, but we see it again and again.  The workaholic whose life is out of balance is one example. The poor sucker who doesn't have a chance obsessed with an unattainable movie actress is yet another.  The obsessive drive to continually reach for the unreachable, to spin your wheels, seeking to reach a destination that is forever out of reach.

But Lincoln's variation on this cliche begs the question:  what happens when you actually achieve the impossible?

Lincoln contemporary John Stuart Mill realized, at the age of twenty, that if he accomplished all his goals, he would still feel no great accomplishment or happiness. “At this," he penned in his autobiography, “my heart sank within me. The end had ceased to charm, and how could there ever again be any interest in the means.'" Mill fell into a deep depression that lasted most of one year. (Quotes have not been grammatically corrected.)

The reverse of a constant desire to outdo one’s self is an ennui that can come with the finish of a mammoth task. How frightening it must have been for Lincoln when work, which provided an escape from his depression,  ended--so ending the reprieve and distraction from his sorrow. Success at his impossible goals simply meant the end of that particular task.  Then came the intervening hours of pain he was forced to face--both his internal demons and the pain brought by his own life's heartaches--until he came up with his next impossible dream and again buried himself in the work of making the impossible possible.

The Sisyphean themes in Lincoln's cycles of despair and accomplishment can provide a lifetime of fascinating study and discussion, but in Lincoln's case, the boulder always reached the top of the hill.  No punishing mythological god pushed it down and made him start over.  He reached the top, then of his own will walked back down and started pushing the next boulder.  While Sisyphus was doomed to purposeless work, Lincoln's life embodied purpose.  It is that distinction that elevated him to the hero status he will--dare we hope--forever enjoy.


LINCOLN: Beautiful Man

It is no secret that Lincoln was gifted with many great talents. He had a terrific memory for legal cases, personal stories and jokes, and he could deliver them all with brilliance, great ease and charm. Lincoln also possessed a tremendous willingness to learn, and was a self-starter--winning no less than the presidency, with not even one full year of elementary school education

Unfortunately, Lincoln had dark and sobering traits as well. Lincoln's struggles with his emotional well being are sadly clear for all of us to see. Melancholy was the proverbial monkey on his back. Succeeding to great heights in one's career life, while struggling with mental illness, is akin to climbing Mount Everest with an elephant in tow.

William Speed, a friend of his, wrote about Lincoln's greatness in this way: "If I was asked what threw such charm around about him, I would say that it was his perfect naturalness. He could act no part but his own." Speed reflected further about Lincoln's magnificent abilities: "I was fresh from Kentucky then and I had heard most of the great orators," he recalled. But after experiencing Lincoln speak, "it struck me then, as it seems to me now, that I never heard a more effective speaker...The large crowd, seemed to be swayed by him, as he pleased." (Grammatical corrections have not been made.)


What did Lincoln, jokes, whiskey and melancholy all have in common?

The statement "coping mechanism" is derived from the function of the "coping" at the top of a wall which protects it from the elements. Humor afforded Abraham Lincoln a similar protection.

Lincoln had a strong work ethic and he wanted to keep his mental and emotional storms at a distance so he could function effectively and get his work done. His law office partner often saw him sitting in his office, frozen in despair, gazing out the window. Then, with no words spoken, Lincoln would roar with laughter, hit his knee with his open hand and shake with giggles. He had just remembered a joke. Laughter was a tool he used to alter his mental atmosphere.

Telling a humorous tale was an effective coping mechanism Lincoln used to keep his emotional storms at bay. Jokes distracted him and gave him momentary relief from his mental torment. A good story, he said, "has the effect on me that I think a good square drink of whisky has to the old roper. It puts new life into me...good for both the mental and physical digestion." He was also quoted as saying: "If it were not for these stories--jokes--jests I should die; they give vent--are the vents of my moods and gloom."


When I feel a mountain ahead of me, I think of Lincoln.

 You see, when Abe felt disappointed he would rub his eyes with his hands. He did this so he could see more clearly and think more honestly about how awesome the work process was, which he currently was engaged in. After doing this, then Abe would remember all of the steps which he had taken to get his job to that point in time. 

 This practice helped Lincoln to further immerse himself in a resolution to stay even more steadfast as he continued to move toward his job's goal. This process also put him in an attitude of honest effort which he could show to others around him simply by working with them. Lincoln's team members observed him and copied his dedication and work ethic.

 If Lincoln can do this, then I can surly try to do the same.


Lincoln, Chicken Bones and a Jury?

Lincoln used two chicken leg bones in the courtroom to illustrate an important point to members of the jury.

Lincoln’s clients--three medical doctors--wanted to prove it was not any deficiency in their care that led to their patient needing to have his mending broken le re-broken and reset.

As the story goes, the elderly plaintiff’s legs were badly broken when bricks from a chimney fell on them. All three of the doctors in this case treated the elderly man separately for his injury. Unfortunately, as time passed during his convalescence, the patient complained of severe pain. At this time. one of the three doctors visited the patient and declared that the legs were now no longer the same length, and if the shorter of the two legs was not re-broken and reset, the man would surely face a life of limping and great suffering. The elderly patient did not want to face having his leg re-broken and reset. Instead, he wanted compensation from his doctors who he felt were at fault.

The three doctors hired Lincoln to prove that their care did not result in this man’s shorter leg falling out of alignment during the healing process. Instead, they wished to prove that leg bones of the elderly can become brittle and may not heal properly, thus falling out of alignment while the patient convalesces.  

All of this is well and good, and a case like this could be expected to be heard in any courtroom. Why then is this case special--and where do chicken bones come into play?

Well, this is where Lincoln truly shows his genius. You see, Lincoln had an uncanny ability to know how to persuade his jury, using language and illustrations which he knew they could easily understand. In his discussion to the jury, Lincoln chose to use simple chicken bones, rather than relying on medical terminology and chemistry lingo to communicate his point. Lincoln knew his audience. He knew what sort of language they could process and what concepts they could understand.

What Lincoln did was hold up the two chicken bones, one from an old chicken and one from a young chicken. Then Lincoln applied equal pressure to both bones at the same time. The older bone quickly snapped in half. Abe put an explanation point on his demonstration by saying in his slow, high pitched Kentucky voice, the old bone “...has the starch all taken out of it.”


Bullet Hole in Stovepipe Hat

In August of 1864, Lincoln rides a horse from the White House to Soldier's Home, which he and others often frequented to beat the summer heat. Not far from the establishment, Lincoln's horse, "Old Abe," bolts after Lincoln hears the sound of a gunshot. Our president needs to use all his riding skills just to keep in the saddle, but loses his hat in the process. Abraham arrived at the establishment, albeit a bit awry, but able to joke about the incident. A kind visitor at Soldier's Home hands Lincoln his stovepipe hat which now has a clean bullet hole in it!


Who Tried to Steal Lincoln’s Body?

Yes, this sounds crazy, but it's true. In 1876, members from a Springfield, IL counterfeiting gang had the "brilliant" idea to steal Lincoln's body and hold it for a $200,000 ransom in gold. In addition, they demanded the release of the gang's engraver, who was in prison.

The dishonorable plot got off to an unsavory start when "Big Jim," the leader of the gang, had to move the mob's clubhouse to Chicago, after one of the gang's members got drunk and couldn't keep quiet about the plot. Now settled in the Windy City, Big Jim began the rotten wrong by putting out casts for accomplices needed for the "Lincoln Job." Unbeknownst to Big Jim, one of the fellows he recruited was actually security agent Lewis G. Swegles.

Big Jim decided on the date of November 7th, 1876, believing that fewer people would be around the Springfield cemetery, due to the polls being open. When the big day arrived, the gang commenced the plot by breaking through the cemetery gate, cutting through its large lock. The crime proved to be more difficult than they had anticipated, but at last, they had broken into the crypt and had moved the coffin off its platform.

At that time, Lewis was instructed to leave the crypt and fetch the gang's horses, which would be needed to finish the heavy hauling required for the job. While Lewis was getting the animals, he signaled for the authorities he had stationed nearby to move in. The gang had momentarily left the coffin and were just outside the crypt waiting for Lewis to return, when they saw police heading their way. The crooks scattered in many directions.

No grave robbers were apprehended that night. Never you worry, for in a matter of days the entire gang was caught, including Big Jim. All were sentenced to at least one year in the Joliet State Prison.

After the dust settled, Robert Todd Lincoln had his father's body removed from the tomb which had been erected by the State of Illinois, and placed underground, where Lincoln still rests in peace today.