No Comment — February 12, 2008, 8:37 am

A Lincoln Anecdote

The following anecdote of the late President Lincoln has never been published, I think, and unlike, perhaps, some of the stories attributed to him, is an actual fact, for I have it from one who
was present at the time and sat next the hero.
During Mr. Lincoln’s practice of his profession
of the law, long before he was thought of for President,
he was attending the Circuit Court which
met at Bloomington, Illinois. The Prosecuting Attorney,
a lawyer by the name of Lamon, was a man
of great physical strength, and took particular pleasure
in athletic sports, and was so fond of wrestling
that his power and experience rendered him a formidable
and generally successful opponent. One
pleasant day in the fall Lamon was wrestling near
the court-house with some one who had challenged
him to a trial, and in the scuffle made a large rent
in the rear of his unmentionables. Before he had
time to make any change he was called into court
to take up a case. The evidence was finished, and
Lamon got up to address the jury, and having on a
somewhat short coat his misfortune was rather apparent.
One of the lawyers, for a joke, started a
subscription paper, which was passed from one member
of the bar to another as they sat by a long table
fronting the bench, to buy a pair of pantaloons for
Lamon, “he being,” the paper said, “a poor but
worthy young man.” Several put down their names
with some ludicrous subscription, and finally the
paper was laid by some one in front of Mr. Lincoln,
on a plea that he was engaged in writing at the
time. He quietly glanced over the paper, and immediately
took up his pen and wrote after his name, “I can contribute nothing to the end in view.”

George William Curtis, The Editor’s Drawer, Harper’s Magazine, March 1866.

Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

From the April 2015 issue

Company Men

Torture, treachery, and the CIA

Six Questions October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm

The APA Grapples with Its Torture Demons: Six Questions for Nathaniel Raymond

Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada



December 2015

Power in Paris

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Bed-Rest Hoax

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Blast from the Past

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Counterparty

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Free but not Redeemed

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content


Getting to the End·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“That casino resorts offer a kind of virtual travel is an obvious facet of this theory, but all the glitzy bullshit — the gross architectural citation of other, actual places — is really just a lure for the virtual narrative of the gambling experience.”
Photograph by Robert Gumpert
Slender Mercies·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“A weight-loss show about abuse and incest and a young football coach who once attempted to hang himself? If this combination strikes you as surprising, you haven’t been watching Extreme Weight Loss.”
Illustration by Barry Falls
The Counterparty·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The Dayton Accords stopped the Bosnian War, but because the deal was hammered out before there was a clear military victor, it relied on a complicated patchwork of ethnically organized governments that satisfied everyone and no one.”
Photograph © Christopher Anderson/Magnum Photos
The Bed-Rest Hoax·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Within five days of immobilization, the arteries narrow and stiffen, and the interior lining of the blood vessels becomes less able to flex and tighten.”
Painting by Evan Wilson.
New Movies·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“It’s debatable, of course, whether the restless momentum of film demands the strict causative logic of A-leads-to-B, or whether this is merely an orthodoxy that has hardened into a rule, but in Beasts of No Nation the adherence to the creed of character motivation has damaging consequences for the film’s persuasive power.”
Photograph courtesy of Netflix

Estimated number of calories a person consumes during Thanksgiving dinner:


The earth had become twice as dusty during the past century.

A man sued Pennsylvania state police who detained him for 29 days when they mistook his homemade soap for cocaine.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!


Subways Are for Sleeping


“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

Subscribe Today