Lucky Number 16
Abraham Lincoln was born on January 12, 1809, in a log cabin in Kentucky. With limited formal education and reliant upon self-directed learning, Lincoln emerged as a self-taught lawyer, a champion of social justice and, eventually, the 16th President of the United States.
His public and presidential achievements are widely known and taught, so in honor of his birthday, here are seven lesser known facts about the person, Abraham Lincoln.
1. Tall and Athletic
Abraham Lincoln was one of the tallest presidents in U.S. history, standing at 6 feet 4 inches. His height, strength, and endurance made him an impressive and somewhat imposing figure.
His physical prowess was not just for show; Lincoln was known for his wrestling skills and reportedly participated in about 300 wrestling matches, earning a reputation as a formidable opponent in his youth.
2. Abe the Inventor
Abraham Lincoln had a curious and inventive mind. As such, he once received a patent (the only U.S. President to ever do so) for a device intended to lift boats over shoals and obstructions in rivers (an early version of what is now known as the adjustable watercraft lift).
Although the invention was never manufactured, it is one of many ideas that highlighted Lincoln's practical mindset and interest in finding innovative solutions to real-world problems.
3. Abe's Many Monikers
Abraham Lincoln had various nicknames throughout his life. One of the most widely-known was "Honest Abe," which he earned during his early years as a store clerk in New Salem, Illinois. His integrity and fairness in business dealings left a lasting impression on the community.
Another pseudonym he used was "The Rail Splitter," referencing his humble beginnings as a rail-splitter in his youth, an image that resonated with voters during his presidential campaign, symbolizing hard work and perseverance.
4. Lincoln Loved Shakespeare
Abraham Lincoln had a deep love for literature, particularly the works of William Shakespeare. He found solace in and drew wisdom from Shakespeare's plays. His own speeches often contained references or phrases inspired by the Bard.
Lincoln's appreciation for Shakespeare's eloquence and insight is evident in the rhythmic, poetic, and rhetorical elements of his own writing — perhaps contributing to the timeless quality of his recorded thoughts.
5. The Beard
Abraham Lincoln is the first U.S. president to have sported a full beard while in office. Before his election, Lincoln was often clean-shaven. However, a young girl named Grace Bedell wrote to him during his 1860 presidential campaign, suggesting that growing a beard would make him more electable.
Taking the advice to heart, Lincoln allowed his facial hair to grow, and the beard has become an iconic part of his historic image.
6. Cat Lover
Abraham Lincoln had a soft spot for all animals, but he had a particular fondness for cats. His wife reportedly brought a stray kitten into the White House, and Lincoln was often seen playing with it during important meetings.
According to contemporary lore, Lincoln's affection for cats was so well-known that he once halted a Cabinet meeting to ensure the safety of three kittens that had wandered into his office.
7. The Lincoln-Douglas Debates
In 1858, Lincoln engaged in a series of famous debates with Stephen A. Douglas during their Illinois Senate campaign. These debates showcased Lincoln's eloquence, deep understanding of the issues, and moral opposition to the spread of slavery. While he lost the Senate race, these debates raised Lincoln's national profile and set the stage for his later political successes.
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