Born on February 12th, 1809, Abraham Lincoln is among the most famous presidents in American history. Besides strengthening the federal government and modernizing the US economy, Lincoln is perhaps best known for the role he played in preserving the Union and abolishing slavery during the American Civil War.
Lincoln was a gifted politician known for his strong moral character, and there are many famous aspects of his legacy. But how much do you really know about our 16th president? Here are a few Abraham Lincoln facts you might not know.
Interesting Abraham Lincoln Facts
1. He was a lawyer with no degree
Though it would be unheard of today, Abraham Lincoln practiced law without an actual degree. Like most lawyers at the time, Lincoln never went to an established law school because none had been founded at the time. He taught himself with borrowed legal works and took an oral admittance exam in 1836. Lincoln worked as a lawyer in Illinois for nearly two decades before becoming president.
2. He was a famed wrestler
In his youth, Abraham Lincoln was a well-accomplished wrestler. Lincoln was nearly unbeatable — he faced-off in the ring about 300 times and was only beaten once. There are even reports that confirm that the famous president was known to talk smack during a match! After winning, Lincoln once challenged the entire audience. No one stepped forward to fight. His name can be found in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
3. He was a suffragette
Slavery wasn’t the only thing Lincoln had a problem with — the president had progressive views regarding a woman’s right to vote. Lincoln wasn’t as vocal about women’s issues as he was about those of enslaved black people. Although he didn’t win women the right to vote during his term, his words were quoted often by the suffragette movement in the early 1900s.
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4. He created the Secret Service on the day of his assassination
Lincoln signed legislation on April 14th, 1865, to create the Secret Service. Hours later, he was shot at the Ford theatre. Unfortunately, earlier creation of the service wouldn’t have saved him his life. The Secret Service was not created to protect the president — rather, it was to prevent the spread of counterfeit currency. It took the assassination of two more presidents after Lincoln to have the service assigned specifically to the president.
5. He almost fought in a duel
Democrat James Shields challenged Abraham Lincoln to a duel, tired of his ridicule. Since he was challenged, Lincoln got to choose which weapons they would fight with. He requested the largest cavalry broadswords possible. When both men arrived at the duel, the dispute was settled verbally and the duel was avoided. Embarrassed by the whole debacle, Lincoln never discussed it again.
6. Lincoln never went to church
He was considered to be a religious man, as he read the Bible every day. However, Lincoln never joined or attended an organized church. This was likely due to the social aspect of church gatherings — Lincoln was considered kind of a loner. He was called secretive by his peers and did not claim to have any close personal friends.
7. He hated being called “Abe”
We love to call Abraham Lincoln “Abe” — it allows us to feel a personal connection with our cherished 16th president. However, if he were alive today, he’d probably tell us all to stop. “Abe” was not something people called Lincoln to his face when he was alive. He wanted to be a respectable figure of authority, so he preferred being called by his formal name. In fact, he actually preferred being called only by his last name. All who knew him, including his wife, called him “Mr. Lincoln.”
8. Lincoln’s son was saved by John Wilkes Booth’s brother
Just a few months after the president’s death, Lincoln’s eldest son, Robert Todd Lincoln, was at a train station in New Jersey. While standing on the train platform, a crowd of passengers pressed him backward, causing him to fall into the path of an oncoming train. Robert was saved by an outreached hand, which pulled him back to safety. Robert instantly recognized his rescuer as Edwin Booth.
9. He personally tested military weapons at the White House
Lincoln was extremely interested in the mechanics behind the artillery used by his soldiers during the Civil War. He was present at nearly all weapons tests and personally shot new cannons and rifles. He did this despite the strict rules against the use of weapons in the District of Columbia.
10. His mother was killed by tainted milk
In 1818, Lincoln’s mother Nancy died after drinking from a spoiled bottle of milk. There had been a number of milk-related deaths throughout southern Indiana — it was discovered later that the tainted milk came from a cow that ate a poisonous plant.