Friday, March 16, 2012

Lincoln's Political Humor

Lincoln 1860 Campaign Button

As a politician, Lincoln used humor with devastating effect. Lincoln got a tremendous laugh from the audience when he said that the arguments of his Senate opponent Stephen A. Douglas were, “as thin as… soup that was made by boiling the shadow of a pigeon that had starved to death.” On another occasion he said of a political opponent, “He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas better than any man I ever met,” suggesting that it is, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

Of a political opponents ideas Lincoln asked, “How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg.” Of the opponents policies Lincoln said, “If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.” The opponent was clearly like, “The man who murdered his parents, then pleaded for mercy on the grounds that he was an orphan.”

Political opponents saw their arguments forgotten by audiences after Lincoln followed up their speeches with a homely stories and humorous anecdotes.

Link to: Civil War Humor

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