Abe Lincoln's sanity saved by his humor

Prof. John Morreall

As a role model for keeping your sense of humor in life's rough spots, no one beats Abraham Lincoln, a man of faith. In both his personal and his political life, Lincoln faced huge problems. He was President during the worse years this country has ever seen, as 750,000 Americans were slaughtered by other Americans during the Civil War.

"Lincoln's family life was also a recipe for sadness. His wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, suffered frequent migraine headaches, depression, and physical illnesses. Her hot temper and mood swings often made her hard to live with.

The Lincoln's son, Eddie, died of tuberculosis at age three, and another son, Willie, died of typhoid fever at age 11.

"What saved Lincoln from despair amid all this tragedy was his sense of humor, especially his love of funny stories. At cabinet meetings during the Civil War, he regularly picked up a humorous book and read passages aloud.

"When his cabinet officers objected, he said, 'Gentlemen, 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.'

"Stories and humor were nearly as important to Lincoln as oxygen and water. What saved Abraham Lincoln from despair amid all this tragedy was his sense of humor, especially his love of funny stories."

– via. Prof. John Morreall
in his book Lincoln – Laughing all the Way


"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.

– Abraham Lincoln

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