Abraham Lincoln led the United States through the Civil War and helped bring about the abolition of slavery. But the 16th President also had a lighter side. Lincoln had a varied list of interests outside of politics — he was a farmer, carpenter, animal lover, and inventor — and was known for his keen sense of humor. Here are five funny facts you might not know about the man known as the Railsplitter, Honest Abe, and, according to many historians, the nation’s greatest President.
Lincoln Was Known to Respond to Insults With Jokes
Abraham Lincoln stood out, visually. He was the tallest President, at 6 feet, 4 inches (at a time when the average American male was 2 inches shorter than today), and he had the largest feet of any President, at a size 14. Consequently, Lincoln’s political opponents frequently took absurd shots at his appearance. In 1860, The Houston Telegraph wrote that he had “the leanest, lankiest, most ungainly mass of legs, arms, and hatchet face ever strung upon a single frame.” The Southern Confederacy similarly published a poem stating that “his nose was as long and as ugly and big / as the snout of a half-starved Illinois pig.” Lincoln took it all with characteristic good humor and was not above the occasional self-deprecating joke. He once recounted a story in which someone called him a “self-made man,” to which he replied, “Well, all I’ve got to say is that it was a damned bad job.” And when Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas called him “two-faced” in a debate, Lincoln famously replied, “If I had another face, do you think I’d wear this one?”