Lincoln’s Yarns and Stories: Pat Was “Forninst the Government”

The Governor-General of Canada, with some of his principal officers, visited President Lincoln in the summer of 1864.

They had been very troublesome in harboring blockade runners, and they were said to have carried on a large trade from their ports with the Confederates. Lincoln treated his guests with great courtesy.

After a pleasant interview, the Governor, alluding to the coming Presidential election said, jokingly, but with a grain of sarcasm: “I understand Mr. President, that everybody votes in this country. If we remain until November, can we vote?”

“You remind me,” replied the President, “of a countryman of yours, a green emigrant from Ireland. Pat arrived on election day, and perhaps was as eager as your Excellency to vote, and to vote early, and late and often.

“So, upon landing at Castle Garden, he hastened to the nearest voting place, and as he approached, the judge who received the ballots inquired, ‘Who do you want to vote for? On which side are you?’ Poor Pat was embarrassed; he did not know who were the candidates. He stopped, scratched his head, then, with the readiness of his countrymen, he said:

“‘I am forninst the Government, anyhow. Tell me, if your Honor plase: which is the rebellion side, and I’ll tell you haw I want to vote. In ould Ireland, I was always on the rebellion side, and, by Saint Patrick, I’ll do that same in America.’ Your Excellency,” said Mr. Lincoln, “would, I should think, not be at all at a loss on which side to vote!”