Abraham Lincoln: From His Own Words and Contemporary Accounts

By Roy Edgar Appleman; Abraham Lincoln | Go to book overview

the contrary, if you will but follow my advice, you will find it worth more than eighty times eighty dollars to you.

LINCOLN TO JOHN D. JOHNSTON, JANUARY 2, 1851.


8. THAT NAME "ABE"

The instances were no doubt rare" when Mr. Lincoln in mature years was addressed as "Abe." Lincoln had dignity. His presence imperceptibly restrained a cheap familiarity. One can sense this about the man from some of his photographs. Two contemporaries and close friends of Abraham Lincoln discuss how people of his day addressed him.

But although I have heard of cheap fellows, professing that they were wont to address him as" Abe," I never knew of any one who ever did it in my presence. Lincoln disdained ceremony, but he gave no license for being called "Abe." His preference was being called "Lincoln" with no handle at all. I don't recollect of his applying the prefix" Mr." to any one. When he spoke to Davis, he called him "Judge," but he called us all on the circuit by our family names merely, except Lamon, whom every one called "Hill." We spoke of him as "Uncle Abe," but to his face we called him "Lincoln." This suited him; he very much disliked to be called "Mr. President." This I knew, and I never called him so once. He didn't even like to be called "Mr." He preferred plain "Lincoln."

HENRY C. WHITNEY, Life on the Circuit with Lincoln.

In all my journeyings with him I never heard any person call him "Abe," not even his partner, Herndon. There was an impalpable garment of dignity about him which forbade such familarity. I have read pretended conversations with him in books and newspapers where his interlocutors addressed him as Abe this or Abe that, but I am sure that all such colloquies are imaginary.

HORACE WHITE, The Lincoln and Douglas Debates.


9. LINCOLN IN HIS LAW OFFICE

Much of the valuable Herndon material on Lincoln is in the form of letters Herndon wrote to Jesse W. Weik when the latter was collaborating in the preparation of the work commonly known as Herndon's Lincoln. The following excerpt from one such letter gives an intimate glimpse into the Lincoln and Herndon law office in Springfield. It also is a valuable comment on the man Lincoln. The second selection, a recollection of Whitney's, discloses the extraordinary fiscal and accounting arrangement that existed in the Lincoln and Herndon partnership.

As I said to you, a law office is a dry place. There is nothing in it but work and toil. Mr. Lincoln's habit was to get down to his office about 9 a. m., unless he was out on the circuit, which was about six or eight months in the year. Our office never

-9-

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