Conviction | Example | Freedom | Honor

On Sep 21, 1862, Lincoln summoned his Cabinet to the White House for a special session. “The President was reading a book and hardly noticed me as I came in,” Secretary of War Stanton wrote later. “Finally he turned to us and said: ‘Gentlemen, did you ever read anything of Artemus Ward? Let me read a chapter that is very funny.'” Lincoln then read aloud something by humorist Ward entitled “A High Handed Outrage at Utica.” Furious at what he regarded as “buffoonery” on Lincoln’s part, Stanton almost got up and left. But Lincoln read on until the end of the piece and then laughed heartily. Everyone else was silent. “Gentlemen,” said Lincoln disappointedly, “why don’t you laugh? With the fearful strain that is upon me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die, and you need this medicine as much as I do.” Then he reached into his tall hat on the table, took out a paper, and said:…

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