Lincoln’s Yarns and Stories: Lincoln Said “By Jing”

Lincoln never used profanity, except when he quoted it to illustrate a point in a story. His favorite expressions when he spoke with emphasis were “By dear!” and “By jing!”

Just preceding the Civil War he sent Ward Lamon on a ticklish mission to South Carolina.

When the proposed trip was mentioned to Secretary Seward, he opposed it, saying, “Mr. President, I fear you are sending Lamon to his grave. I am afraid they will kill him in Charleston, where the people are excited and desperate. We can’t spare Lamon, and we shall feel badly if anything happens to him.”

Mr. Lincoln said in reply: “I have known Lamon to be in many a close place, and he has never, been in one that he didn’t get out of, somehow. By jing! I’ll risk him. Go ahead, Lamon, and God bless you! If you can’t bring back any good news, bring a palmetto.” Lamon brought back a palmetto branch, but no promise of peace.