Abraham Lincoln is one of the most iconic presidents in American history. Everyone knows his greatest hits – freeing the slaves, winning the Civil War, creating the US Banking System, etc. What I bet you didn’t know is that President Lincoln…was a MASTERFUL troll. Like…of epic proportion. Check out these 6 amazing stories of Lincoln trolling the mess out of people.
6. He started the Emancipation Proclamation with…a joke
The Emancipation Proclamation. One of the most famous speeches/documents in American history. Freeing the slaves. A step toward equality. Apparently, Lincoln drafted the Proclamation himself and told his Cabinet as an afterthought that he planned to deliver it as a speech. Whoops.
Anyhoo, he kicked it off with a terrible joke that has no 21st century relevance. He only got a chuckle or two from the crowd, so he shouted “Gentlemen, why don’t you laugh? Without the fearful strain that is upon me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die, and you need this medicine as much as I do.” Then he delivered the Emancipation Proclamation.
5. He loved poop jokes
And so do I – but I’m not a president. I do find something about this very endearing, though. His favorite subject for poop jokes was George Washington. Another joke Lincoln liked was a story about a Revolutionary War hero, Ethan Allen, who visited England after the war. His hosts were trying to upset him by mocking George Washington, so they put a framed portrait of the hero in the most disrespectful placethey could think of: above the shitter. When they asked Allen what he thought about the photo, he responded, “Nothing will make an Englishman shit so quick as the sight of General Washington.”
The story may or may not be true, but Lincoln was a fan nonetheless.
4. He baited a bunch of kids into starting a house fire…just for giggles.
Abraham Lincoln did a lot of off-the-wall type stuff, as president and before. For example, while traveling for work as a lawyer, he once joined an impromptu axe-throwing contest…cuz why not? The best story, though, was when he convinced a group of kids to start a fire.
While staying at a hotel, Lincoln convinced some kids to throw an inflated pig bladder (basically a balloon) into the fireplace. Historians have no freaking clue why he did this other than to just get some damn jollies. The kids’ motivation, however, makes complete sense: When an adult (Abraham Lincoln, no less) asks you to set shit on fire, you follow orders.
The balloon exploded and shot sparks every which direction, which in turn caught the room on fire. Lincoln frantically tried to put the fire out with a broom…and it also caught fire. He barely managed to keep the entire hotel from burning down.
3. He got accidentally engaged…and then completely BS’d his way out of it.
As the story goes, in 1836, Lincoln was being hounded by a woman who wanted him to marry her sister, Mary Owens. He had no interest and thought the woman was boring and crazy…so imagine the sister, am I right? Well, in a last ditch effort, she said she would go home to Kentucky and bring her sister back with her to Illinois if he agreed to marry her. His response was basically a ‘Yeah, sure, whatever. Like that’ll happen.” A few months later…TADA! The woman shows up at Lincoln’s house thinking they’re engaged.
Lincoln didn’t want to be THAT guy and break off this (imaginary) engagement, so he started masterfully messing with her, sending her letters talking about how rich everyone was in Springfield, and how she couldn’t handle being so poor in such a wealthy place. When that didn’t work, he started telling her that she must be joking about marrying him because how could she ever want such a lowly and worthless guy. Either she believed him or saw through his game and thought he was a total dick. In either case, it worked, and Lincoln was off the hook.
2. He once publicly bullied a political opponent until he burst into tears
Lincoln must’ve been one hell of a charming dude because he openly mocked a political opponent on stage, in public, and still came out of it looking like the good guy. When he was in the House of Representatives, he was running against Jesse B. Thomas. Thomas went first, lambasting Lincoln and his allies. Rather than respond with arguments, Lincoln openly mocked Thomas; he made fun his voice, his appearance, and even how he walked. The crowd went nuts and applauded and cheered uproariously. By rule, Thomas had to sit there and silently take it. The mocking went on until Thomas burst into tears. And…well…there’s no coming back from that.
For what it’s worth, Lincoln later tracked him down and apologized. But I’m sure the salt levels were high, as Thomas had to watch Lincoln go on to become President of the United States.
And the Pièce de Résistance…
1. Lincoln once won a debate…just by ripping open his opponent’s shirt
Lincoln was a master debater, capable of taking down anyone point for point…execution style. I mean, there is an entire style of debate named after him. But sometimes words aren’t even necessary. Early in his career, Lincoln was debating Democrat Colonel Edward Dick Taylor. Taylor was known for tearing apart Lincoln and the Whig party for their spending and perceived elitism. Well…Taylor went first in the debate, and just as he was beginning his speech about Lincoln and the “rich big Whigs,” Lincoln walked right up to him and ripped open his shirt, revealing a fancy ruffled shirt, a giant gold chain, seals, and tons of other bling. The crowd went nuts. Lincoln bowed and left the stage, having won the debate.
Lincoln is a widely revered President and historical figure…and a freaking troll. Well played, Mr. President. Well played.