Abraham Lincoln, (February 12, 1809 – 15 April 1865), is one of the most memorable presidents of the United States right next to George Washington and JFK. He was the 16th president and served 5 years until his infamous assassination by John Wilkes Booth during a theater performance. Besides his manner of death, another thing that President Lincoln is remembered for is signing the Emancipation Proclamation which gave slaves freedom. However, most of us already knew all this about Abraham Lincoln. There’s plenty surprising facts that many of us are completely unaware of.
All About Abraham Lincoln
- His corpse was once stolen by grave robbers. Lincoln’s body, which rested in a tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Illinois, was locked away with only one padlock, which isn’t very much security to keep put the dead President’s body. In 1876, a group of graverobbers saw their opportunity to steal the body and hold it for ransom for a whopping $200,000. However, before the graverobbers could get away with their scheme, U.S. Secret Service agents interrupted their plans. After that ordeal, President Lincoln’s body was then moved to an unmarked grave and buried under 10 feet of concrete, making it a near impossible task for it to be stolen again (Klein, 2012).
- Lincoln created the Secret Service. If not for Lincoln himself, his body may have really been stolen by those graverobbers. This is because, mere hours before his assassination in Ford’s Theater in 1865, he signed a legislation that brought the Secret Service into existence. Its original purpose was mainly to stop counterfeiting, which was a major problem at the time. It was only in 1901 did the Secret Service also start protecting the commander-in-chief (Klein, 2012).
3. Lincoln has an “Outstanding American” honor in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame (Klein, 2012). This strange fact is due to Lincoln having been a pretty intense wrestler in his youth. It is believed that out of 300 wrestling matches, Lincoln lost only once. Beyond this, it is said that he was a great smack-talker in the ring. Lincoln was most likely such a good wrestler because of his abnormally long limbs and unusual height of 6’4″ during a time when men averaged only 5’7″.
4. Lincoln was the first president to have a beard. He was also the only president to have gotten a patent, which was for air chambers that would keep steamboats afloat in shallow waters. (Klein, 2012). More than that, he was the first president that was ever in an inaugural photograph.
5. Lincoln was not an Illinois native. Ironically, while Illinois is known as the “Land of Lincoln,” Abraham Lincoln was not born there and, in fact, only moved to the state when he was 21 years of age. In reality, Lincoln was born in a small log cabin in Kentucky, and then spent several years growing up in Indiana before he finally moved to Illinois in 1830 (Klein, 2012).
6. Lincoln once described himself as a “floating piece of driftwood.” This is likely because of how much he moved around in his youth. Besides moving between several states in his youth, he also frequently changed jobs. Some of these jobs included being the manager of a general store and a militia captain. Eventually, of course, he settled on the job of being the President of the United States (“10 Facts: Abraham Lincoln”).
7. Lincoln’s mother died of a strange “milk sickness.” While Lincoln was still quite young, only nine years old, his mother, Nancy Lincoln, fell victim to something known as “milk sickness,” which was a phenomenon spreading throughout southern Indiana at the time. This sickness was the result of cows eating poisonous white snakeroot. This poisonous plant would pass into the cow’s milk and make it toxic to humans who would then drink it (Klein, 2012).
8. It wasn’t easy for Lincoln to become president. Lincoln lost several election, five to be precise: the Illinois General Assembly in 1832, two races for senate, one race for the U.S. Congress, and a nomination for vice-president. Fate seemed to be against him, but Lincoln’s ambition seemed to overpower fate itself. At last, he won the Republican presidential nomination in 1860 (“10 Facts: Abraham Lincoln”).
9. Lincoln did not use the White House’s Lincoln Bedroom as a bedroom. In fact, ironically, Lincoln instead used this room as an office and never slept there. More interesting than sleeping there, however, he signed the Emancipation Proclamation in that very room (Klein, 2012).
10. The brother of Lincoln’s assassin saved the life of Lincoln’s son. A few months had passed since Lincoln’s assassination when the president’s son, Robert Todd Lincoln, was accidentally pushed off a train platform into the path of an oncoming train. However, just in time, a hand reached out from the platform and dragged Robert back to safety. The hand that saved him belonged to Edwin Booth, a famous actor and brother of the assassin John Wilkes Booth (Klein, 2012).
Klein, Christopher. (2012). “10 Things You May Not Know About Abraham Lincoln.” History. Retrieved from https://www.history.com/news/10-things-you-may-not-know-about-abraham-lincoln.
“10 Facts: Abraham Lincoln.” American Battlefield Trust. Retrieved from https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/10-facts-abraham-lincoln.