Lincoln Kept Himself Sane with Humor and Jokes

In his new book, Lincoln's Sense of Humor, author Richard Carwardine observes that "Abraham Lincoln was a compulsive teller of stories and jokes, the first president to make laughter a tool of office."

Carwardine notes that "Lincoln's humor was a habit of mind. His friend Justice David Davis recognized that Lincoln's stories 'were done to whistle off sadness.' Ground down by the cares of wartime office and personal tragedy, President Lincoln found a lifeline in humor.

"His tastes were inclusive. He loved Western tall tales, bawdy jokes, linguistic tricks, absurdities, and sharp wit. Nothing gave him more pleasure than satirical works lampooning the American republic's ethical double standards.

"At its gentlest best, Lincoln's humor reflected an appreciation of the foibles, weaknesses, and absurdities of humankind.

"Lincoln, with his strong sense of self-worth, saw advantage in self-mockery. Conscious that many considered him an ugly man, he once cast himself as the subject of an incident involving a man with 'features the ladies could not call handsome.'

"Riding through the woods, the man met a woman on horseback. She stopped and scrutinized him: 'Well, for land sake, you are the homeliest man I ever saw,' she exclaimed.

"'Yes, madam,' the man replied 'but I can't help it.'

"'No, I suppose not,' said the lady, 'but you might stay at home.'"
"A delegation called to urge the appointment of an acquaintance as commissioner to the Hawaiian Islands. They emphasized his fitness for the post and his poor health, which would benefit from the balmy climate.

"Lincoln closed the interview with affected regret: 'Gentlemen, I am sorry to say that there are eight other applicants for that place, and they are all sicker than your man.'"

Carwardine concludes: "We should take Lincoln's ability to see the absurd side of life as a measure of his well-developed humanity. We may also reflect that it gave him the sense of proportion all Presidents need if they are to elevate their office into the realm of statesmanship."

"I have always believed that a good laugh was good for both the mental and physical digestion," Lincoln said.

– via Prof. Emeritus Peter Kobrak
Kalamazoo, MI

©2024 the Joyful Noiseletter. All Rights Reserved


God's kids say and do the funniest things

Political Humor

Humor for the hard times

The Gospel according to Erma Bombeck

Abe Lincoln's sanity saved by his humor

A laugh a day keeps the psychiatrist away

Day of Hope

A Christian comedian's credo

The Clown's Prayer

God's kids say & do the funniest things

Doggy wisdom

Will Rogers - America's greatest journalist?

Christian Civil War? A Joyful Jesus or a Sad Jesus?

After the Winter, God sends the Spring

The Holy Ghostwriter: Unpraiseworthy Band

Valentines Day Prank

A New Year's Resolution

Thanksgiving Potpourri

The first laugh in the Bible

Choose to love

God is a God of laughter

Pastor lifts congregation's spirits

An old Orthodox prayer to end an unorthodox war

Touched with Joy


IT'S A MIRACLE! A health and diet book with a spiritual focus

A walking sermon

A New Year's prayer to end all epidemics

Three laughing monks

The healing power and joy of forgiveness

The Holy Ghostwriter: First Christmas News Reports

God is in the punch line

The Gospel according to Erma Bombeck

GESUNDHEIT! What we all can learn from Tom Brady, 'St. GOAT'

Is the Press Sleeping on the Job? Beyond Pesticides & the rise of interest in organic foods

IN THE MARRY MONTH OF JUNE - The funny side of weddings and marriages

'St. Mugg's' resurrection: 'Laughter is God's therapy'

An Easter Reflection: Where did the Pharaohs go?

Whatever happened to 'good works'?

185,000 members spread Joygerms worldwide

'When you're smiling'

What the news media didn't tell you about pandemics

The Christ-Like Will Rogers

Look for the helpers!

Patch Adams calls for 'a revolution of loving'

Messianic Jewish wit full of one-liners

Joy at the Last Supper

Celebrating JN's 35th Anniversary

Why not invite brains to the coronavirus press briefings?

Groucho Marx mask befuddles coronavirus

A 'Resurrection Day' for healed parishioners?

'March of Prayer' is 'March Gladness'

Lincoln Kept Himself Sane with Humor and Jokes

Words to Start the New Year