Lincoln’s Yarns and Stories: Young “Sucker” Visitors

After Mr. Lincoln’s nomination for the Presidency, the Executive Chamber, a large, fine room in the State House at Springfield, was set apart for him, where he met the public until after his election.

As illustrative of the nature of many of his calls, the following incident was related by Mr. Holland, an eye-witness: “Mr. Lincoln being in conversation with a gentleman one day, two raw, plainly-dressed young ‘Suckers’ entered the room, and bashfully lingered near the door. As soon as he observed them, and saw their embarrassment, he rose and walked to them, saying: ‘How do you do, my good fellows? What can I do for you? Will you sit down?’ The spokesman of the pair, the shorter of the two, declined to sit, and explained the object of the call thus: He had had a talk about the relative height of Mr. Lincoln and his companion, and had asserted his belief that they were of exactly the same height. He had come in to verify his judgment. Mr. Lincoln smiled, went and got his cane, and, placing the end of it upon the wall, said” ‘Here, young man, come under here.’ “The young man came under the cane as Mr. Lincoln held it, and when it was perfectly adjusted to his height, Mr. Lincoln said:

“‘Now, come out, and hold the cane.’

“This he did, while Mr. Lincoln stood under. Rubbing his head back and forth to see that it worked easily under the measurement, he stepped out, and declared to the sagacious fellow who was curiously looking on, that he had guessed with remarkable accuracy—that he and the young man were exactly the same height. Then he shook hands with them and sent them on their way. Mr. Lincoln would just as soon have thought of cutting off his right hand as he would have thought of turning those boys away with the impression that they had in any way insulted his dignity.”