Abraham Lincoln is perhaps the most celebrated American president of all time. His tall, imposing figure, chin strap beard, and stove pipe hat are iconic. The Lincoln Memorial is a highly popular tourism mainstay in Washington, D.C. His visage marks every five-dollar bill. Every schoolchild knows his list of accomplishments – that he brought a divided nation back together, that he freed the slaves, that he never told a lie.
There are many stories we tell over and over again about Lincoln and most of us know them by heart. But what about the untold tales? Read some lesser known facts about Lincoln below; some of them just might surprise you.
Lincoln was an excellent wrestler. As a young man, Lincoln excelled at wrestling due to his long limbs. He only lost one match out of nearly 300. According to one biographer, Lincoln once challenged a whole crowd that had gathered to watch him dispose of yet another opponent. He purportedly said, “I’m the big buck of this lick. If any of you want to try it, come on and whet your horns.” Needless to say, nobody took him up on his offer. For his exploits in the sport, he was inducted as an “Outstanding American” into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Lincoln had an inventive mind. Lincoln did not only know how to solve political and social issues. He also contemplated practical solutions to everyday problems. After riding a steamboat that ran aground in shallow waters, Lincoln designed metal air chambers that, when attached to the sides of a water vessel, would keep it afloat in low shoals. He patented the design in 1849.
Lincoln was somewhat of a gun nut. The so-called “Gentle Giant” loved his artillery. He showed up frequently at artillery and cannon tests and was always excited to try out military prototypes. Although firing weapons was not allowed in the District of Columbia, Lincoln tested out muskets and rifles around the White House.
A gang of Chicago counterfeiters planned to steal Lincoln’s corpse. Lincoln’s original gravesite was in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois, his tomb being guarded by only a single padlock. The gang attempted to grab his corpse in 1876. They were planning to ransom the body in exchange for $200,000 and the release of one of their criminal associates from prison. However, their scheme failed due to the Secret Service, which succeeded in infiltrating the group. To prevent future grave robbery attempts, officials encased Lincoln’s body in a steel cage and buried it beneath 10 feet of concrete in an unmarked grave.
Lincoln’s birthday is coming up soon so get your top hats and fake beards ready. The Orange County attorneys at McFarlin LLP hope that everyone pays their respects to one of the most intriguing figures in all of American history on his birthday, February 12.