Abraham Lincoln Newspaper Archive
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Newspaper Article
Athens Messenger- Athens, Ohio
Friday, June 8, 1860

A reporter's description of Abraham Lincoln

A gentleman who was among a number of others that went to Springfield, after the adjournment of the Chicago Convention, to call upon the Republican candidate for the Presidency, has described the visit in a private communication to the N.Y. Post from which we make the following extract:

"It has been reported by some of Mr. Lincoln's political enemies that he was a man who lived in the "lowest housier style," and I thought I would see for myself. Accordingly, as soon as the business of the Convention was closed, I took the cars for Springfield. I found Mr. Lincoln living in a handsome, but not pretentious, double two story frame house, having a wide hall running through the center, with parlors on both sides, neatly, but not ostentatiously * furnished. It was just such a dwelling as a majority of the well-to-do residents of these fine western towns occupy. Everything about it had a look of comfort and independence. The library I remarked in passing, particularly, and I was pleased to see long rows of books, which told of the scholarly tastes and culture of the family.

Lincoln received us with great, and to me, surprising urbanity * . I had seen him before in New York, and brought with me an impression of his awkward and ungainly manner; but in his own house, where he doubtless feels himself freer than in the strange New York circles, he had thrown this off, and appeared easy, if not graceful. He is, as you know, a tall, lank * man, with a long neck, and his ordinary movements are unusually angular, even out west. As soon, however, as he gets interested in conversation, his face lights up and his attitudes and gestures assume a certain dignity and impressiveness. His conversation is fluent, agreeable,and polite. You see at once from it that he is a man of decided and original character.

His views are all his own: such as he has worked out from a patient and varied scrutiny of life, and not such as he has learned from others. Yet he cannot be called opinionated * . He listens to others like one eager to learn, and his replies evince at the same time both modesty and self-reliance. I should say that sound common sense was the principal quality of his mind, although at times a striking phrase or word reveals a peculiar vein of thought.

He tells a story well, with a strong idiomatic * smack and seems to relish humor both in himself and others. Our conversation was mainly political, but of a general nature. One thing Mr. Lincoln remarked, which I will venture to repeat. He said that in the coming Presidential canvases he was wholly uncommitted to any cabals * or cliques * , and that he meant to keep himself free from them, and from all pledges and promises.

I had the pleasure, also, of a brief interview with Mrs. Lincoln, and, in the circumstances of these persons, I trust I am not trespassing on the sanctities of private life in saying a word to regard to the lady. Whatever of awkwardness may be ascribed to her husband, there is none of it in her. On the contrary, she is quite a pattern of lady-like courtesy and polish. She converses with freedom and grace, and is thoroughly au fait * in all the little amenities * of society. Mrs. Lincoln belongs, by the mother's side, to the Preston family of Kentucky, has received a liberal and refined education, and should she ever reach it, will adorn the White House. She is, I am told, a strict and consistent member of the Presbyterian Church.

Not a man of us who saw Mr. Lincoln but was impressed by his ability and character. In illustration of the last, let me mention one or two things, which your readers, I think, will be pleased to hear. Mr. Lincoln's early life, as you know, was passed in the roughest kind of experience on the frontier, and among the roughest sort of people: Yet I have been told that, in the face of all these influences, he is a strictly temperate man, never using wine or strong drink, and stranger still, he does not "twist the filthy weed," nor smoke, nor use profane language of any kind. When we consider how common these vices are all over the country, particularly in the West, it must be admitted that it exhibits no little strength of character to have refrained from them.

Mr. Lincoln is popular with his friends and neighbors; the habitual equity of his mind points him out as a peacemaker and composer of difficulties; his integrity is proverbial; and his legal abilities are regarded as of the highest order. The soubriquet * of "Honest Old Abe" has been won by years of upright conduct, and is the popular homage to his probity * . He carries the marks of honesty in his face and entire deportment * .

From Word Central's Student Dictionary
by Merriam - Webster

(Pronunciation note: the schwa sound is shown by ə)

Pronunciation: ahs tən TA shən
Function: noun
unnecessary show to attract attention, admiration, or envy

Pronunciation: ər BAN ət E
Function: noun
very polite and smooth in manner

Pronunciation: langk
Function: adjective
not filled out, thin

Pronunciation: ə PIN yə nAt əd
Function: adjective
holding to one's own opinions and ideas too strongly

Pronunciation: id E ə MAT ik
Function: adjective
the choice of words and the way they are combined
that is characteristic of a language

Pronunciation: kə BAL or kə BAHL
Function: noun
a small group of persons working together secretly
(as to take over a government)

Pronunciation: klEk or klik
Function: noun
a small group of people that keep out outsiders

au fait
Pronunciation: o FEH or o FA
Function: adjective
well informed, up to date in knowledge

Pronunciation: ə MEN ət E
Function: noun
1. the quality of being pleasant or agreeable
2 : something (as good manners or household appliances)
that makes life easier or more pleasant -- usually used in plural

sobriquet or soubriquet
Pronunciation: SO brih kA
Function: noun
1. An affectionate or humorous nickname.
2. An assumed name.

Pronunciation: Pro bət E
Function: noun
honesty and uprightness

Pronunciation: dih PORT mənt
Function: noun
manner of conducting oneself ; behavior