Humor is an integral part of Lincoln’s greatness | Columnists

“Lincoln Tells a Joke – How Laughter Saved the President (and the Country)” is the title of the book I purchased at the gift shop associated with Ford’s Theater Museum in Washington, DC

I have purchased a number of copies for the homes of some of the children in our lives, knowing that those who read it aloud to children will also enjoy the book. A house can never have too many books, for all ages, about Lincoln.

At the museum we saw a 34 foot tall circular tower of the books that have been written about Lincoln so far – around 15,000 if I remember correctly. In admiration, we gazed at the fireplace as we descended the staircase that surrounded the tower of volumes.

The more I learn about Lincoln, the more fervently I thank God for placing him in the right place at the right time to guide our nation through some of its most perilous times.

The book begins with these words:

“Poor Abraham Lincoln. His life was not fun at all. His childhood was tough. He looked simple and he knew it. Sadness bothered him intermittently. Her family has had its ups and downs. When he ran for public office, he often lost. As the sixteenth president, he was unpopular. And when his country went to war, it almost split in two. But Lincoln had his own way of dealing with life. Few people remember it today. It was all about laughter. »

Lincoln was born in a log cabin in Kentucky, in 1809, but spent his formative years in southern Indiana. Life was hard. The work was grueling. Later Lincoln said, “My father taught me to work, but not to love it. I prefer to read, tell stories, make jokes, talk, laugh.

One of his favorite books was a joke book, “Quinn’s Jests”. At age 11, his first absurd poem was: “Abraham Lincoln, his hand and his pen, he will be good, but God knows when.”

The book tells his life story in a way elementary school students can understand and illustrates various events with humorous commentary and Lincoln’s observations.

Lincoln aged rapidly during the Civil War and the book states that “Before making difficult decisions, he read aloud amusing passages from his favorite humor authors, telling his advisers: ‘With the frightening tension that besets me night and day, if I did not laugh for a while in time I should die, and you need this medicine just as much as I do.

The last words of the book are:

“Five days after the end of the war in 1865, the Lincolns attended a performance of a popular comedy play. Laughter from the audience drowned out the sound of a shot being fired behind the President. It is possible Lincoln may have laughed even in the last moments of his life. He died at the age of fifty-six… Yet Abraham Lincoln had kept Americans together, thanks to the love of laughter which carried him forward, step by step, in a journey that took him to the White House and into history.”

During his lifetime, Lincoln was the most unpopular president in US history, because of his politics, not his jokes. He received thousands of death threats. But the book says it could shed light even on death threats, “To say that the premieres made him ‘a little uncomfortable, but there’s nothing like getting used to things!'”


I need more fun stories for kids! You help brighten the lives of today’s readers…and provide precious memories for future generations. Please email me your stories at [email protected] or mail me at 816 Mott St., Kendallville, IN 46755. You can also submit stories to and you can read past columns on funnykids. com.