I can’t resist another quick Team of Rivals post. In her book on Lincoln and his cabinet, Doris Kearns Goodwin talks of Lincoln’s love for telling stories. He always enjoyed a good laugh, and often used laughter as a stress reliever during the more tense moments of the Civil War. One of his favorite stories runs as follows:
A few years after the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, war hero Ethan Allen had the occasion to visit England. While across the pond he was ridiculed quite a bit for his new country. At one point, a group of Englishmen placed a portrait of George Washington on the inside door of the public outhouse to get a rise out of Allen. He didn’t say a word, though he had clearly seen the portrait. Finally, disappointed that the portrait did not have the desired effect, one of the Englishmen asked Allen outright what he thought of it.
Allen replied that he thought it an excellent place for a portrait of Washington. The Englishman rose to the bait: why? Allen said, “Because nothing makes an Englishman sh—- so quick as the sight of General Washington.”