40 Facts About the Man on the Penny

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny

Trista - December 28, 2018

Today, Abraham Lincoln takes most of the credit for ending slavery through the Civil War; however, this is not an entirely true fact. While the Civil War had a large hand in ending slavery, as did Abraham Lincoln, it was actually the 13th Amendment that officially put an end to slavery. Senate passed the 13th Amendment on April 8, 1864, and by the House on January 31, 1865. Of course, Lincoln still played a significant role in ending slavery but he cannot take complete credit for ending the era of American slavery. Nevertheless, here are 40 more things you probably didn’t know about the 16th President of the United States.


40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
Restored Log Cabin at Lincoln’s childhood home. National Park Service.

40. Abraham Lincoln Lived A Difficult Childhood

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, in Hodgenville, Hardin County, Kentucky. His parents were Thomas and Nancy Lincoln. When Lincoln was a young child, his father lost everything, and the family moved to Perry County, Indiana. The family continued to struggle in Indiana, especially after Lincoln’s mother died when he was nine years old so his sister, Sarah, took care of him until Thomas remarried. In order to help the family, Lincoln stayed out of school and went to work doing various jobs, such as a shopkeeper, postmaster, and splitting firewood.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
Thanksgiving Day 1863 advertisement. Pinterest.

39. Abraham Lincoln Declares Thanksgiving a Federal Holiday

During 1863, the United States of America was in the middle of the Civil War. The country was divided over the issue of slavery, which was something President Abraham Lincoln never wanted. Therefore, to try to unite the civilians of the United States and bring thoughts of thanks into their lives, Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a federal holiday. Lincoln stated that the new national holiday should bring “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
Abraham Lincoln pardon’s first turkey. Today’s Radio.

38. Abraham Lincoln Pardoned First Thanksgiving Turkey

Days before the 1863 Thanksgiving meal, a turkey came to the White House for Thanksgiving meal preparations. However, 10-year-old Tad Lincoln started to take care of the bird and named him Jack. Tad begged the executioner not to kill the bird and went to talk to his father, President Abraham Lincoln, in the middle of a cabinet meeting. Tad burst into the meeting, crying to his father to spare Jack because he was a good turkey. Lincoln took heart to his son’s cries and saved the turkey, establishing a tradition.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
Lincoln’s original patent model was acquired by the Smithsonian in 1908. This replica was built by the Smithsonian in 1978 for long-term display to preserve the fragile original. NMAH/SI/Smithsonian.

37. He’s The Only President To Hold A Patent

Before Abraham Lincoln became president in 1861, he received a patent for his invention, Buoying Vessels Over Shoals. The device would equip boats with inflatable bellows, improving the boat’s navigation system in shallow waters. Lincoln received the patent on May 22, 1849, but the Buoying Vessels Over Shoals invention would never become manufactured. But even so, Abraham Lincoln remains the only President of the United States of America to own a patent while in office.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
Abraham Lincoln and General McClellan during the Civil War. US history images.

36. Lincoln Started The Civil War To Save The Union And Not End Slavery

While many states of rebellion, also known as the Confederate States, left the Union because they felt Abraham Lincoln wanted to end slavery, Lincoln did not. Before he became president and immediately after, Lincoln stated that he had no right to free slaves as the President of the United States. He did not agree with the institution of slavery but did not feel he could free slaves. For Lincoln, the Civil War started because he wanted to save the union. Lincoln did not officially bring slavery into the Civil War until the Emancipation Proclamation.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny

An illustration of Abraham Lincoln. Law Marquette.

35. Lincoln Was Mainly Self-Educated

Before Lincoln became the 16th President of the United States of America, he was a lawyer. However, Abraham Lincoln practiced law without a degree. Partially because his family was so poor, Lincoln only received about 18 months of formal education. Thomas, Lincoln’s father, believed learned trades was more important than going to school. However, Abraham Lincoln did not agree with his father and would often get caught reading when he was supposed to be doing chores. Lincoln continued to teach himself, including the law and politics.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
Mary Todd Lincoln. Wikimedia Commons/Nicolas H. Shepherd/Smithsonian.

34. Lincoln’s Wife Came From A Wealthy Family

While Abraham Lincoln grew up extremely poor, his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, grew up in a wealthy slave-owning family. Mary Todd was born in Lexington, Kentucky, to Elizabeth and Robert Todd. Mary’s father was a bank and one of the richest men in the town. Mary’s wealthy status as a child was known to cause issues in her marriage as Abraham Lincoln did not have the same expensive tastes as his wife. In fact, once they moved into the White House, Mary went out and bought all new furniture.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
Robert Todd Lincoln. Famous People.

33. John Wilkes Booth’s Brother Saved Robert Lincoln

Not too long before Robert Todd Lincoln’s father, Abraham Lincoln, was assassinated at Ford’s Theater by actor John Wilkes Booth, Edwin Booth, actor and brother of John Wilkes Booth saved the life of Robert Lincoln. Robert and Edwin were on a train platform when Robert fell on the train tracks right before the train was about to take off. Edwin was close-by and saw Robert fall, so he reached down and grabbed Robert to save him from being hit by the train.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
The United States Secret Service star. South Florida Reporter.

32. Bill To Establish Secret Service Hit The Desk The Night Lincoln Died

Actor John Wilkes Booth assassinated the President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865. Lincoln had gone with his wife, Mary, and another couple to see the play “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theater. Lincoln’s bodyguard was off for the night and Booth was able to walk right up to Lincoln and shoot him in the head. On that same night, the bill to create a secret service to protect the president from such acts had made its way to the desk for approval.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
Telegraph. Electronic Ways.

31. First President To Use The Telegraph

Even though the telegraph first came around in the 1830s, Abraham Lincoln became the first President of the United States of America to communicate by using the telegraph. Lincoln primarily used the telegraph to talk with the war general during the Civil War. He wanted to know the ongoings of the Civil War as soon as he could, and Lincoln believed the telegraph was the best and fastest way to hear of the news and communicate with the generals.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
An illustration of Lincoln’s assassination and dream. WordPress.

30. Lincoln Dreamed Of His Death

Abraham Lincoln was always interested in dreams and often wrote of the meaning of his dreams in letters. Days before his own death, Abraham Lincoln had a dream that he walked into the East Room of the White House and saw a corpse which was protected by guards. Upon further investigation, Lincoln saw himself lying in the casket to which he heard that an assassin took the president’s life. Lincoln’s former law partner and bodyguard, William Hill Lammon, told this story.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
John Wilkes Booth at Abraham Lincoln’s second inauguration on March 4, 1865. Civil War Saga.

29. Booth Was At Lincoln’s Inauguration

It’s believed that from the beginning of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, John Wilkes Booth was not a fan. However, a photograph of Abraham Lincoln’s second inauguration has led people to wonder if Booth did in fact like Lincoln at first. In the picture, standing on the balcony behind Abraham Lincoln, who is giving his inauguration speech, is the face of actor and Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth. With the photograph taken on March 4, 1865, John Wilkes Booth would shoot and kill the 16th president only a little over a month later.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
Abraham Lincoln Memorial. Hands-Free.

28. Lincoln Battled Mental Illness

Abraham Lincoln had many obstacles throughout his life. He never fully felt understood by his father, his mother passed away when he was a young boy, and he never cared for his stepmother. On top of this, Lincoln’s presidency consisted of fighting to keep the union as a whole. Lincoln’s melancholy was evident to people around him that Lincoln would go into spurts of depression, especially during his presidency. Those who knew him best knew Lincoln’s look of gloom and knew that when he said he was not doing very well, that he was fighting depression.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
Abraham Lincoln’s hat. American History.

27. Lincoln Kept Documents Inside His Hat

Abraham Lincoln is well-known for generally wearing a top hat. While the hat always seems to look the same, he wore many different styles of top hats. Being the tallest United States President in history, Lincoln did not need the hat to make himself taller. He used the lid to keep essential documents that he needed. Many people who witnessed one of Abraham Lincoln’s speeches stated that before he started speaking, he would take off his hat, pull out a sheet of paper, and replace his hat.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
Illustration of Lincoln-Shields Duel. Visit Alton.

26. Lincoln Nearly Took Part in a Duel… but scared his opponent off.

In 1842, Abraham Lincoln publicly shamed banker James Shields about not accepting paper money to pay off debts. Lincoln wrote a series of letters under the name “Rebecca” in the local newspaper. Shields eventually found out who “Rebecca” was and challenged Abraham Lincoln to a duel. On the day of the fight, Lincoln and Shields met in the chosen location, Bloody Island, Missouri, with the selected weapon by Lincoln, cavalry broadswords. Lincoln used his height as an advantage and cut off a tree branch to intimidate Shields. This worked as the men called a truce before the duel.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
Abraham Lincoln and a cat. Mewoingtons.

25. Lincoln Adored Cats

Abraham Lincoln was known to be a lover of all animals, but he especially enjoyed the company of cats. Lincoln was the first president to bring cats to the White House. The family’s cat, Tabby, would often be seen eating at the dinner table with the family. On top of this, Abraham Lincoln would often feed the cat with a gold fork. Mary Todd Lincoln, the wife of Abraham, often said that her husband had one hobby and that was cats.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
Abraham Lincoln Oil Painting 1869 Restored. George Peter Alexander Healy – White House Historical Association/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain.

24. Lincoln Was Shot At Nine Months Before He Died

Throughout his presidency, Lincoln and his family would vacation at a place known as the Soldier’s home. This place was relatively isolated, but it was well-known the family would stay there. One day, in August of 1864, Abraham Lincoln was riding a horse on the grounds of the Soldier’s properties when he heard the shot of a rifle. The horse got spooked and ran off, making Lincoln’s hat fall off. The next day, Lincoln went to look for his hat and upon finding it noticed a bullet hole.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
The White House Stables in 1865, which had to be rebuilt due to a fire. Pinterest.

23. Lincoln’s Stable Animals Died In A Fire

On the night of February 10, 1864, Abraham Lincoln woke to see flames shooting out from the second story of the stable house. He ran outside, where a crowd had gathered and asked if the horses had been taken out. When Lincoln heard that the animals were still in the building, Lincoln ran and tried to open the doors to the stables in attempts to save the horses, goats, and ponies but the building was too full of fire, and the doors could not open. Unfortunately, all the animals inside the stable died in the fire.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
Seance. Blogspot.

22. The Lincoln’s Held Seances At The White House

Together, Mary and Abraham had four sons, one of whom, Willie, would die in 1862. After the death of Willie, Abraham fell into one of his darkest depressions, and both of them sought the help of spiritualists. They wanted to reach Willie after his death, which reportedly they did as Mary was quoted saying “Willie lives!” Lincoln was also known to contact mediums throughout his presidency when looking for advice on what steps to take, especially with the Civil War.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
Abraham Lincoln and family. Whispers from the Light.

21. The Lincoln’s Had House Servants

Abraham Lincoln did not grow up with slaves or servants. However, his wife, Mary, did and she requested servants in her home from the beginning. While Lincoln did not entirely approve of having servants to help care for his home and family, he agreed to make Mary happy. The servants were treated well but had many duties, such as caring for the children, cleaning the house, cooking, and whatever other help Mary needed.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
Abraham Lincoln without his iconic beard. Business Insider/Wikimedia Commons.

20. Lincoln Grew His Beard Because Of An 11-Year-Old Girl

Not only was Abraham Lincoln the first President of the United States to have a beard but he also grew the beard because of a letter he received from an 11-year-old girl. Grace Bedell wrote the soon to be president a message in 1860 stating that he thought he would win the election if he grew a beard because he would then be more attractive to the ladies. Lincoln also write back to Grace thanking her for her advice. On top of this, once he won the presidency, he set up a meeting so he could meet Grace.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
A rare photo of Abraham Lincoln. Natestpierre.

19. Lincoln Did Not Like All His Nicknames

During his life, Abraham Lincoln was given many nicknames, especially from the southern slave-holding states. While he seemed not to mind most of the nicknames and answered to many things, he preferred that most people just called him Lincoln. Lincoln also did not mind being called, Mr. President. However, there were a couple of nicknames that Lincoln preferred not to use. One of these nicknames was “Honest Abe.” The other nickname was the more shortened version of that, “Abe.”

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
Abraham Lincoln on a Civil War battlefield. Kiwihats/Schmoop.

18. Lincoln Risked His Life During The Civil War

There are a few pictures of Abraham Lincoln taken on the battlefields of the Civil War. The photographer took these photos while he was meeting with generals and the soldiers who were fighting to help preserve the Union. Throughout the Civil War, Lincoln took the Civil War personally and did everything he could to support the Union troops, including risking his life. Lincoln did not have secret service and did not always use his bodyguards, which made his trips to the battlefields riskier.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
Colored portrait of Lincoln during the Civil War. Mort Künstler/Pinterest.

17. Lincoln Was Sort Of Drafted In The Civil War

Of course, by the time the Civil War started, Abraham Lincoln was too old to serve in the Union Army. However, this did not mean that the Union Army would not drift the president in a little more honorable way. In 1864, the president of the 3rd Ward Draft Club, Noble D. Larner, was given the task of finding a substitute to serve in the Civil War for Lincoln. John Summerfield Staples was this substitute, who not only met Lincoln but also paid $500.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
Late 19th-century illustration of Lincoln’s wrestling match with Armstrong. Putnam/Pinterest.

16. Abraham Lincoln Was A Wrestler

During his early life, Lincoln did many interesting things including wrestling. While he was living in Salem, Illinois, Lincoln became known as one of the greatest wrestlers in the area. Of course, back in Lincoln’s time, wrestling was a lot different compared to what you will see on the television today or even in high school auditoriums. Nonetheless, when word got out about Lincoln’s wrestling days when he was aiming for a political seat, many people took notice. Some even voted for him because of his wrestling reputation.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
Northwood Church interior late 1800s or early 1900s. Northwood Village.

15. Lincoln Never Belonged To An Organized Church

Abraham Lincoln was always a religious man, especially during the days of the Civil War. He would often be caught praying to God during the Civil War. However, this did not mean that Abraham Lincoln ever became a member of an organized church. In fact, throughout his whole life, Lincoln was never part of any organized church. But, even so, this did not stop Lincoln from taking time every day to read the Bible, which is a habit Lincoln had from his days as a young boy.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
A drawing featuring the American flag and Abraham Lincoln. Serious Facts/Media Source.

14. Lincoln Did Not Have A Middle Name

Today, it is normal for people to have a middle name. In fact, many people are given two, and sometimes more, middle names. Abraham Lincoln’s name was just that. He did not have a middle name as his parents, Thomas and Nancy never gave their son a middle name. But this does not mean Lincoln’s name did not have meaning. His first name, Abraham, came from his paternal grandfather, who was killed by Native Americans.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
Photos of President Lincoln and Charles Darwin. The Atlantic.

13. Lincoln Shares A Birthday With Charles Darwin

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, which was the exact day and year as Charles Darwin, biologist and contributor to the Theory of Evolution. On this date, Lincoln was born to a poor farm family in Kentucky, while Darwin was born on a grand Georgian estate in Shrewsbury, England overlooking the river. However, no matter what their backgrounds were, both of these men grew up to live amazing lives and mark their spot in history.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
John Wilkes Booth. New York History Blog.

12. Lincoln Was A Fan Of Booth

Abraham Lincoln was a fan of the actor, and his assassin, John Wilkes Booth. During his later life, Lincoln saw Booth perform a few times and believed he was a great actor. In fact, Lincoln saw Booth perform at the Ford’s Theatre in 1863. At the time, Booth was in the stage play called the Marble Heart, a role where Booth received excellent reviews. Lincoln liked Booth’s performance so much that he sent a note to Booth inviting him to the White House. Booth never took Lincoln up on his visit.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
A picture of Mary Todd Lincoln with a ghostly image of Abraham Lincoln behind her. Newsmax/Wikimedia Commons.

11. People Have Claimed To See Lincoln’s Ghost

There are several White House ghost stories, but one of the most common and popular ghost stories are the ones that detail the ghost of Abraham Lincoln. In fact, Lincoln’s spirit has been given the name the “White House Ghost” and sighted since his death in 1865. On top of this, there are several past residents of the White House, including presidents, who have stated they have seen the ghost of Abraham Lincoln. A few of these people are Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Henry Turman.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
Illustration of Lincoln lying in bed after the assassination. History.

10. Lincoln Died In The Petersen House, Not Ford’s Theater

While John Wilkes Booth Shot Abraham Lincoln at the Ford’s Theater on April 14, 1865, he actually died the next morning at the Petersen House, which was across the street from the Ford’s Theater; brought to a bedroom, where he had to lay at an angle because he was too long for the bed. He laid in a coma for nearly ten hours before he actually passed away. Doctors tried to save him through surgery, but it was not possible.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
Thomas Lincoln, Abraham’s father. Friends of the Lincoln Collection.

9. Lincoln Did Not Attend His Father’s Funeral

Thomas Lincoln, Abraham’s father, passed away on January 17, 1851, in Coles County, Illinois. The funeral was to be a few days later, and while Lincoln heard, he refused to attend. Furthermore, Lincoln would not help pay for a headstone for his father nor did he see Thomas was he was on his deathbed. While some people believe Lincoln did not attend his father’s funeral because of their strained relationship, others feel it was because Lincoln was dealing with severe depression at the time and could not bring himself to go to the funeral.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
Abraham Lincoln’s goat slippers. The Hayes Museum/The Civil War Parlor.

8. Lincoln Wore A Size 14 Shoe

Abraham Lincoln was not only the tallest President of the United States of America in its history, but he is also the president with the biggest shoe size. Lincoln’s shoe size was a size 14. About a year before he died, Abraham Lincoln went to Kahler to get shoes specially made for him. In the drawing, it shows that Lincoln had a size 14 shoe. On top of that, there is a pair of goat slippers worn by Lincoln that is sometimes on display at the President Lincoln Cottage.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
No smoking sign. Safety sign.

7. Lincoln Did Not Smoke Or Chew

Abraham Lincoln was known to be a straightforward man throughout his whole life, even once he became president and resided in the White House. Lincoln often chose quiet nights, where the family would sit and read or play games. Lincoln was also known to be a simple man in he never drank alcohol at the White House, and possibly stopped drinking completely later in life. On top of this, Lincoln also did not smoke or chew tobacco.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
An assortment of fruit. leonori/Shutterstock/Mnn.

6. Some of Lincoln’s Favorite Foods Were Fruit

As stated before, Abraham Lincoln was a simple man, and this style followed him to his choices of food. While Mary, Lincoln’s wife, often said that she had trouble getting him to remember to eat, the meals she learned he loved were always around, no matter where he was living. His favorite food was known to be fruit. However, Lincoln also had many other favorite foods, such as oysters, cheese, crackers, biscuits, apple pie, and Chicken Fricassee.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
Lincoln’s tomb. Expedia/Tourism Media.

5. Grave Robbers Tried To Steal Lincoln’s Body In 1876

On November 7, 1876, Big Jim” Kinealy and his crew decided to act out a plan where they would break into Lincoln’s tomb and steal his corpse. Of course, the vault securely locked, so the men had to use many tools to break in. They were going to take the coffin away in a horse and buggy. When Kinealy told one of his men, Swegles, to bring the horse and buggy, Swegles alerted the police instead. The police arrested the men and Lincoln’s only surviving son, Robert, hired the best lawyer to try the men and then buried his father.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
Abraham Lincoln clipart. World Arts Me.

4. Lincoln Enjoyed Telling Jokes And Stories

Abraham Lincoln was known to be a very mild-tempered and easy-going man. He often enjoyed making other people laugh, especially during tough times, such as the Civil War. For Lincoln, it did not matter what was going on in the world; if Lincoln could tell a joke and make someone laugh, he would. On top of this, Lincoln was known to be a great storyteller, and whether he asked someone to visit him in the White House or he met someone on the street, he would often tell at least one story.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
Painting of Lincoln writing. Picturing History.

3. Lincoln Would Test Rifles Outside Of The White House

President Abraham Lincoln took his Commander in Chief role seriously throughout the Civil War. Not only would he often visit the generals and soldiers on the battlefields and give speeches, but he would also test-fire the rifles which were going out to the soldiers. Lincoln took great care in the artillery that the Union troops would use and spent many hours discussing the firing weapons with professionals. On top of this, he would shoot off the rifles outside on the White House grounds, even though this was illegal in Washington, D.C.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
A picture of a picture of Abraham Lincoln’s mother, Nancy. Pinterest.

2. Lincoln’s Mother Died Due To Poisoned Milk

Abraham Lincoln was only nine years old when his mother, Nancy Lincoln, passed away. She died on October 5, 1818, from what was called a mysterious milk illness. However, Nancy was not the only person to die due to this mysterious illness as this same sickness killed several others in the area. Years later, people would learn that what really killed Nancy was tainted milk from a cow which had ingested poisonous white snakeroot.

40 Facts About the Man on the Penny
The Lincoln Bedroom in the White House. US Government/White House History.

1. Lincoln Never Slept In the Lincoln Bedroom

Today, one of the most notable rooms in the White House is the Lincoln Bedroom. Decorated with a rosewood bed, simply called the “Lincoln Bed” which is believed to have been bought by Mrs. Lincoln when the family moved to the White House. However, Lincoln never actually slept in this room. What is now called the Lincoln Bedroom was Lincoln’s personal office, where he met with cabinet members, wrote the Emancipation Proclamation, and signed many vital documents.


Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“Which U.S. president made Thanksgiving a national holiday?” Make It Grateful.

“Abraham Lincoln Is the Only President Ever to Have a Patent.” Owen Edwards, Smithsonian Magazine. October 2006.

“10 Facts About Abraham Lincoln.” Graham Land, History Hit. August 2018.

“Lincoln’s Great Depression.” Joshua Wolf Shenk, The Atlantic. October 2005.

“Lincoln’s Hat.” Chris Harris, President Lincoln’s Cottage. January 2013.

“Abraham Lincoln’s Duel.” Kelsey Johnston, American Battlefield Trust.

“A Nation’s Finest Felines: Presidential ‘First Cats'” Meowingtons. February 2018.

“When Lincoln Was Almost Assassinated Nine Month Before He Was Assassinated.” Melissa, Today I Found Out. October 2013.

“The White House Stable Fire of 1864.” Abraham Lincoln Research Site.

“How An 11-Year-Old Convinced Abraham Lincoln To Grow A Beard.” Pamela Engel, Business Insider. October 2013.

“50 interesting facts about Abraham Lincoln’s life.” NCC Staff, Yahoo News. February 2014.

“Was Abraham Lincoln Really a Wrestler?” Robert McNamara, Thoughtco. May 2017.

“Abraham Lincoln Was a John Wilkes Booth Fan.” Rebecca Beatrice Brooks, Civil War Saga. June 2012.

“Abraham Lincoln Owned a Very Trill Pair of Size 14 Goat Slippers.” Joshua Espinoza, Complex.

“10 Things You May Not Know About Abraham Lincoln.” Christophe Klein, History. November 2012.