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tv   Lincolns Sense of Humor  CSPAN  April 1, 2021 10:35pm-11:27pm EDT

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author richard carr rudy spoke about the former president lincoln's sense of humor. the abraham lincoln institute at ford's theater hosted the symposium in washington, d.c.
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to highlight the 16th presidents life, career, and legacy. this is 50 minutes. >> good morning, ladies and gentlemen. my name is michael bishop and i'm a board member at the abraham lincoln institute, and former executive director of the abraham lincoln bicentennial commission. thank you for joining us today. unlike that of winston churchill, abraham lincoln's new york tended towards self deprecation. during one of the famed lincoln douglas debates and illinois, a spectator shouted that lincoln was being two faced. two faced, cried lincoln. if i had to faces, do you think i would wear this one? lincoln's humor was an essential component of his personality and political persona.
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richard we'll explore with us whether his humor might also occasionally have been a handicap. richard carwardine was educated at corpus kristie and the university of california at berkeley. for three decades, he taught history at the university of sheffield, before being appointed roads professor of american history and institutions at oxford university, and a fellow of st. catharines college. he was elected president of corpus kristie college oxford in 2010, and served in that post until 2016. he is the author of one of the finest modern biographies of the 16th president, lincoln, a life of purpose and power, which was awarded the lincoln prize in 2007.
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it's the double edged sword on which today's lecture is based. ladies and gentlemen, professor richard carwardine. [applause] [applause] >> good morning, fellow lincoln eons. i'm going to begin with a well-known story, familiar for some of, you no doubt. the occasion was an evening banquet and wintry illinois. the month was february. the year is 1856. it was a convention of republican newspaper editors indicator. lincoln spoke there. he apologized for being an interloper, as he put it, and cast himself as the subject of a story about a man, and i quote, with features the ladies
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could not call handsome. riding through the woods, he met a lady on horseback. he waited for her to past, but instead she stopped and scrutinized him before saying, you are the homeliest man i ever saw. yes, madam, but i can't help it he replied. i suppose not, said the lady. but you might stay at home. [laughs] [laughs] once the editors had stopped laughing, lincoln said he felt with propriety he might have stayed at home. i chose that story because it's particularly apt. i was asked to speak here last year at the symposium. when it came to, it i stayed at home. and now i may possibly be the ugliest man you have ever seen,
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though i certainly hope not, but that was not why i stayed away. i am especially grateful to president john white and the executive committee of the abraham lincoln institute for extending the invitation a second time. i want particularly to thank michael, who in typical in coney in style, stepped into fill the gap a year ago. while i was working on the book on lincoln's humor, i was aware of those who questioned my choice of the subject so seemingly lacking and gravitas and so marginal to the big issues of lincoln's time. i believe that people are as much if not more revealing about themselves when being funny then when they are serious. it was plato who reflected serious things cannot be grasped without ridiculous ones, and no one indulged in humor
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more than lincoln. it was as characteristic to him as his stove top hat. but unlike his, hat it was an intrinsic element of the man, a way of life, a habit of mind. what prompted my research, my inquiry, was remark lincoln made to david ross lock. lock was a young ohio newspaper man. his satire centered on a call her head task, petroleum versus knows beat. a pastor of a pro slavery church, he was a drunk, in greedy, sorted, lying, racist. lock called him a metal plated son of a --
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. the v. stood for vesuvius, an allusion to his bigoted and illiterate eruptions on the issues of the day, which were syndicated in union newspapers. walks use of the appalling ridicule of opponents of the administration delighted lincoln. the papers were his constant companion. he could quote passages at well, and on the final afternoon of his life, lincoln delayed dinner by reading it aloud to two old friends from illinois. for the genius to write these things, lincoln told the author, i would gladly give up my office. the pleasure he took in the savage assault on racial prejudice and anti-emancipation
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sentiment speaks volumes about the moral springs of lincoln's own here. he admired the great ethical force of locks satire. a close associate maintain that the president red mosby as much as he did the bible. lincoln relished pretty well every form of the comic, tall tales and absurdity, wordplay and delight and the plasticity, ambiguity and surprises of language, quick wet, irony, logical fallacy, and, a tory asleep, dirty jokes and stories. but his love of mosby tells us his chief pleasure was satirical humor that elicited righteous mirth, laughter occasioned by comic writing designed to create a moral critique. as my title indicates, i shall focus this morning on the utility of lincoln's humor, the
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purpose is for personal and political benefits that accrued had the political danger known for humourist leaders in times of war. i suggest on balance that he drive more advantage than not from the pursuit of laughter, and the essential element in the states and skill and public affairs -- we should recognize that lincoln deployed humor as an act of self conscious therapy, as a health giving south. his appetite for comic release and his notorious vulnerability to depression are two sides of the same coin. laughter was a therapeutic antidote to which he was prone. lincoln explained, if it were not for these stories, jests, jokes, i should die.
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they are the vents of my muse and gloom. in september 22nd, 1862, he unveiled the preliminary emancipation proclamation and began by reading out a short piece by artemis ward. gentlemen, why don't you laugh, he asked his irritated colleagues. with the fearful strain upon me night and day, if i did not laugh, i should die. humor was also a means for empowerment, of imposing himself on others. from an early age, lincoln's comic storytelling and mimic remade him an entertainer. it is odd, lanky appearance and appetites fight in and on the young men have been a recipe for social reticence and china's. but his physical awkwardness seems not to have troubled him. rather, he had a strong sense of self-worth and enjoy the personal regard he won for his
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amiable wit and great stories. this social empowerment helped, for example, to secure his election as a military captain to win him the respect of fellow congressman and his washington boarding house to make him the magnet for the world expose the tension of lawyers from residents gathered at the county seat of the illinois eighth circuit. later in life, lincoln would repeat with appreciative glee the description of a type of southwestern political orator who, i quote, threw back his head, shined his eyes, opened his mouth and left the consequences to god. and sharp contrast, there was little and lincoln's own speeches that was not planned and will calculated. he uses humor and stories in his public addresses and
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private conversations was rarely lacking in broader intense or designed to cover up and the thought. the utility of his humor can be categorized under six headings. at times, it pay in crushing opponents. were commonly, when used as a means of self-deprecation and of emphasizing his common touch, humor could be a weapon of subtle attack. sometimes, it was a way of disingenuously planting a self serving idea into the mind of his heroes. it provided to a means of tactical diversion. and it also had a role in relation to public morale. above all, he used his stories as parables, as a persuasive thought of political explanation. first then, the use of humor to crush opponents. as an aspiring politician, and
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lincoln occasionally resorted to cruel and aggressive humor, not simply to put their opponents on the defensive, but to eviscerate and humiliate them. the so-called roasting of -- was just one instance of lincoln using his power to hurt, to withering effect. the occasion was a meeting in front of a large crowd in springfield during his campaign for reelection to the state legislature in 1836. lincoln's impressive speech prompted a request from george a prominent local democrat that he'd be given the stand. volker was a recent convert from lincoln's party and had been ruled one boarded by lucrative public office. he had also build the best house in the city. over which he had erected a lightning rod, the only one in the place.
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15 years, lincoln senior, that patronize-ing declared that the young man would have to be taken down. after waiting with suppressed excitement, lincoln resumed the stand. he acknowledged that he was young, but he said, his critics should remember, i am older in years and then i am in the tricks and treats of politicians. i desire to live and i desire placing distinction, but i would rather die now and alike the gentleman, live to see the day that i would change my politics for an office worth 3000 dollars a year and then feel compelled to erect a lightning rocked to protect the guilty conscience from an offensive guard. during the same frates of white lincoln learned a painful elect that self invention is aggressive human in september,
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1842, he wrote for the pages of the journal is you don't influence satire ridiculing the 36-year-old, james shields, the state auditor. shields was an impetuous man with a short fuse and he had good reason to rage at the insults with its sexual insinuations and demeaning assault on his character. shields challenged a link into a dual and lincoln reluctantly accepted the challenge. we cannot be sure how far he intended to dark humor that lurked in his selection of weapons, cavalry broadsword of the largest size precisely equal in all respects. eight inches taller than shields, lincoln would have a huge advantage in reach. he did manage a job on the way to the viewing, past the hundreds who turned out. he was reminded, he said, of the young kentuckian who sweetheart, as he was leaving
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home to fighting 1812 presented him with a belt that she had embroidered with a motto, victory or death. isn't that rather too strong? the volunteer said. suppose you put victory or be crippled. only at the last moment was the deal inverted. never again would lincoln who was deeply embarrassed by the whole episode, never again he writes insulting anonymous or sudan the missile higher. and he recognized that when taken to an offensive extreme, ridicule could damage his author, as well as his victim. overtime, lincoln live to more death events subtle in sharpening a debating edge. as a maturing politician, he used a jump killer wait to put his opponents on the back foot. i know one was more aware of distanced ivan douglas, who declared that he did not fear lincoln and debating matters of substance, but confessed and i
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quote, there is one thing however for which i stand constantly and read. when lincoln begins to tell a story, i began to get apprehensive. every one of his stories seems like a rock on my back, that is exactly the effect of the allegories and anecdotes of which he is master have upon me. nothing else disturbs me but when he begins to tell a story, i feel at that i am to be overmatched. next, self-deprecation and subtle attack. in the face -- in his face to face engagement with the public, lincoln's recourse their stories and jokes was designed to remind his heroes of his holy origins of belonging to the backwards. and encouraged to common people to see him as an actual man lacking artifice, able to engage with ordinary farmers neighbors on equal terms. lincoln's lifelong sulfide into
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vacation with plain folk was closely aligned to his habit of south of deprecation. as i noted at the outset, he made much of his on prepositioning appearance. conscious of his unusual physical proportions, his height and unusually long limbs, and aware that many considered him is ugly man, who faced a head on. his justin gave rights to a much he whispering railed, he found himself looking down the gun barrel of a passer by that explained that he had promised to shoot the first man he met who was uglier than himself. getting a good look at the man's face, lincoln remarked, while bearing his chest, if i am uglier the new than blaze away. this self mockery amounted to far more dennis means of securing a laugh by preemptive comments about his strange looks, modest upbringing and
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calculated eccentricities. who was also a means of enlisting the audience on the side of the underdog. he used this big man, little man technique throughout his pre-presidential years against some of the biggest oratorical beasts in the illinois democracy. and his political wrestling with douglas throughout the 18 fifties, he assumed the identity of a modest provincial facing the world wide renown of the democrats prime hope for the white house, which would status of a very great man, while he himself was only a small man. they have er any of this language intensified by the sight of the route diminutive little giant is standing next to the elongated lincoln. and can also use the laughter to a larger self serving idea. as a lawyer, he wielded humor to plant a seed which shape the deliberations of luxury. during a lunch break, he has
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said to have told jurors the story of a small boy who run to cement his father. come quick father, the hard man is pulling down his pants and she's lifted up her skirts and they're getting ready to peel all over our hey. the father replied, son, got your facts absolutely right but you weren't drawn to a completely wrong conclusion. later in court, following his opponents lengthy winding up speech, lincoln told the tourists, my opponent has his facts absolutely right, but he has drawn completely the wrong conclusions. and he won the case. humor also provided a means of diversion, used anecdotes to turn or to smooth the conversation without getting offense. john hate told how one late, without 1863 and then fellow nuisance of a brooklyn
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postmaster, with his eyes on the following year's presidential election, fastened himself to the tycoon and try to get into conversation on the subject of the succession, but lincoln run again? the president quickly put him off with the story of his friend, jesse two boys who a state auditor controlled the use of the illinois state house in springfield. an utterance quick preacher requested it as a venue for a religious lecture. what's it about, suggesting? the second coming of christ, so the person. nonsense, uncle joe, cdfi's had been to springfield once and got away, he'd be clear if coming again. one of the presidents most stressful tasks, as leader of the new administration in 1861 was dealing with the avalanche of applicants for government posts. he was bombarded with four more
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requests than he had jobs. one day, a delegation cobb to urge the appointment of an acquaintance of theirs as commissioner of the sandwich oils. they emphasized not only his fitness for the post, but his poor health, which would benefit from the comey climate. president close the interview with affected regret. gentlemen, i'm sorry to say that there are eight other applicants for that police and there are all sick or than your man. but above all else, lincoln stories surface as a colorful and pointed means of instruction and elucidation. they gave him the means of driving home political arguments with engaging economy. he never seem to talk without some definite aim in mind.
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one acquaintance reflected. the few stories i heard him relate, which hold in each instance to electric street some well-defined point. lincoln himself told a colleague, but they say i telegram many stories, i reckon i do, but i have found in the course of a long experience that common people take them as they run more easily influenced and informed through the medium of broad illustration and in any other way. as president, used stories to drive home political arguments with engaging economy. one major general john pope telegraphed that you have to approve 5000 confederates, he asked the president opinion. i remind, me he replied, of an old woman who is ill. the doctor gave her medicine for her constipation. the next morning, he found her fresh, and dwell and getting
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breakfast. she confirmed that the medicine had worked. how many movements, the physician inquired? 142, she replied. madam, i am serious. how many? 142, madam i must know. it is necessary i have the exact number of movements. i tell you, 142. the hundred and 40 of them, wind. lincoln closed the discussion, i am afraid popes captures or 140, wind. finding himself with the support of only one member of the cabinet during a critical phase of the affair, when britain threatened war over the union navy seizure of confederate and voice from a british ship, he recalled the drunk, there were lots of drunks in lincoln stories. he recalled a drunk who strayed
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into an illinois church and fell asleep in the front row. he slumbered on as the revival is asked, who are on the lord side? and the congregation responded by rising. when the preacher than inquired, who are on the side of the devil? the sleeper stirred. but not fully grasping the inquiry and seeing the minister on his feet, he stood up. i don't exactly understand the question, he said. but i'll stand by you until last, but it seems to me that we're in a whole place minority. the power of lincoln's humor to enforce his argument was he irresistible. it confirmed the president as the representative american. women's rights activist and abolitionist carrying healy doll rebuked those fine ladies who were repelled by the
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presidents only manners and jokes. as a nation, we are an intelligent but not cultivated people. mr. lincoln fairly represents the average, and he has never written a letter that the humblest of his constituents cannot understand. a soft hold stories and his homely wisdom has kept his name alive. our divine master, the classic lore or historic legend, he knew how to tell a simple, instructive story. during his presidency, lincoln's supporters seized on his floated use of humor to show how it occupant of the white house could remain the genial man of the people. pro administration newspapers readily drew attention to his latest story, lincoln's private secretary cultivated a warm relationship with certain journalist to supplied them with examples of the president
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sweat. commercial interests exploited the benign reading of consumer and jokes and stories, supposedly, but rarely, originated with the president. in sitting at the moral value of lincoln's storytelling, his supporters sought to counter his opponents disdain for a chief magistrate, which made him unfit for his position. both confederates and critics in the union seized on lincoln's humor has a stick with which to beat him. the common charge was that low jokes revealed a lack of gravitas as he used humor to mask his deficiencies. his comic tails measured his cool disregard for the victims of war. lincoln, the heartless buffoon, became a recurrent theme. a powerful harper's weekly
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cartoon, plum via confronts her children, published after grievous union losses at fredericksburg illustrates this. a female figure with her arm outstretched, the female figure being columbia, punts lincoln who stands outside the war department and joe hooker and asks where are my 15,000 sons, murdered at fredericksburg. lincoln's callous answer, reminds me of a little joke, go tell your joke at springfield. democrats insinuated a critique of lincoln the joker into each and every of their key campaigning themes of 1864. none was more challenging than the charge of lincoln's shocking levity in the face of numbing military slaughter. the opposition's theme of
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lincoln the widow maker who lays the nation across his knee and tickles her catastrophe with obscene jokes and little stories, became a campaign staple. nothing gave the attack greater power than the bogus accusation that when visiting the blood drenched antietam battlefield in october 1862, lincoln had shattered the sanctity by asking to hear of all of your comic song, while touring the field, and bodies yet warm in their graves. accompanied by george mcclelland and another officer, lincoln drove over the field as heavy details of men were burying the dead. lincoln slapping the marshal on the knee exclaiming, come on, give us that song. mcclelland had never heard it. the general protested not now, if you please, i would prefer
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to hear at some other place and time. and the campaign give political cartoonist unbridled opportunity to exploit the familiar theme of lincoln's compulsive jesting. joseph bakers lithograph, columbia demands that children -- and angry columbia points at the discomforted president and shouts mr. lincoln, give me back my 500,000 sons, which elicits a feeble diversionary response, well, the fact is, by the way, that reminds me of the story. -- above all, the bogus episode of the past attack, especially important was a poorly executed but still arresting cartoon
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called the commander-in-chief conciliate's and the voters on the field, but you also have in your papers. it places lincoln at the center, clad in a long cloak with a cap, similar to the cowards disguise he was said to wear to washington as president elect. dead bodies are being carried through the field, and mcclelland turns to a wounded soldier. a distraught figure is back to the viewer and signals his distress by holding a hand to his eyes. the president demands, marshall, saying us a song or something else that's funny. the song books routinely deploy the malignant reading of lincoln in their versus. i quote, you make all the black battalions to aid your sinking caused by the substitute of your vulgar jokes for liberty
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and laws. nobody memory of our fathers by those on numbered graves, we will perish on 10,000 fields where we become your slaves. in the song mac, my darling, the first verses attributed to mcclelland's victory at antietam and the second verse runs, abe may crack his jolly jokes while bloody fields of stricken battle -- guy like butchered cattle. yet, the guns group cold pimps and pets may crack his stories. your name is of the grand ole, and lincoln with all our brightest glorious. it's impossible to determine precisely how lincoln's reputation as a joke or shaped the political balance sheet in 1864. supporters included many who found the presidents levity
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distasteful, indicating that for them at least, the matter was not decisive. its opponents clearly believed in the great electoral opportunity. lincoln understood how his reputation for levity could expose him to misrepresentation and electoral damage. it was only after careful reflection that he opted not to respond publicly to the antietam fiction. in the time after his death, his reputation as a presidential storyteller, joke teller, and ready, wet would come to take on a character wholly positive and benign. that, however, was not the case during the dark and deadly days. my argument is that lincoln's sense of humor has to be taken seriously. we should recognize which variety and complexity of purpose understands the ethical dimension, and remain aware of the political risks lincoln ran
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in telling jokes while the republic was suffering and engaged in an existential struggle costing at least three quarters of 1 million lives. as the nation suffered, so, of course, did the president. humor was his lifeline. lincoln was a shiny example of the truth proffered by the theologian reinhold neighbor who perceived humor as proof of the capacity for self to gain advantage from which is able to look at itself. people with a sense of humor do not take themselves too seriously. they are able to stand off from themselves, to see themselves in perspective, and recognize the ludicrous aspects of their pretension's. all of us want to be ready to laugh at ourselves, because all of us are a little funny in our foibles, conceits, and our potential. what's funny about us is
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precisely that we take ourselves too seriously. we are rather insignificant little bundles of energy and vitality in a vast organization of life. those human foibles, conceits, and pretension's were at the height of what made lincoln laugh. his appreciation of the absurdity of the human condition infused the stories he told. to draw again on niebuhr, the situation in many sense is a more adequate resource for the incongruities of life and the spirit of philosophy. to meet the disappointments and frustrations of life, the irrationality's and contingencies with laughter is a high form of wisdom. if man has a sense of the precarious nature of the human enterprise, they prove they are looking at the whole drama of life not simply from the circumscribed point of view of their own interests, but from some further and higher vantage point. this, niebuhr suggested, was an
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aspect of the profound wisdom that underlay the american slaves's astonishing capacity for laughter. niebuhr considered a sense of humor indispensable to men of affairs who have the duty of organizing their fellow men in common endeavors. it reduces the frictions of life and makes the foibles of man tolerable. in laughing at the foibles and absurdities of others, and ourselves, we mix mercy and judgment. here was an indispensable ingredient of lincoln's wise statesmanship. in his strenuous nurturing of the republic, lincoln the statesman, could call on strategic wisdom, clarity of principle, skill in political management and communication, a grasp of human psychology, and physical and mental strength. to these ingredients, i think we should add a remarkable sense of humor.
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served by an exceptional intellect, flawless memory, quick wit, mastery of language, lincoln used his stock of tall tales and jokes to foster friendship, build support, and undermine opponents arguments, particularly when they dealt with and justice. lincoln's example ponders the question, is it possible to exercise statesmanship without a sense of humorc+ absurdities and flaws of humankind, ones self included. the less we have of this, the more becomes necessary and inevitable that others laugh at us. thank you. you mentioned that lincoln had a story for everything or a
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joke and they always seemed to [applause] [applause] >> you mentioned that lincoln had a story for everything, or a joke, and they always seem to fit the situation perfectly. do you think that he memorized thousands or hundreds of stories, or do you think he was just really good at making them up? >> it is the former, not the latter. lincoln's memory was formidable, and as i'm sure you are well aware, he said that once he was scratched on the medal of his mind, it was that forever. what strikes me about lincoln's use of stories and every setting was his extraordinary
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capacity to recall, and appropriate recall. he would re-tell stories, but often making the same point. he did not make them up himself. he said he was a retail dealer. he was telling other peoples stories, but he adapted the stories that he had read, and one of his sources was joe miller's jest. this was first composed and compiled in the 17 thirties in london by the british gesture and joker, choe miller. subsequently it went through many many additions and was circulating in the american west, across america, in the american west, in the early 19th century, updated and interpolating by others, but
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not show miller another joke book was probably one lincoln knew. and then lincoln remembered all the stories that he was told by others. it is often said that lincoln had a poor relationship with his father, but that's one of the most important things lincoln got from his father, the capacity to tell stories. his father was a very good joker and storyteller. family exchange of stories was important to him. he heard stories as a young man. certainly on the circuit with other lawyers, here quite stories. and these were all filed away. i don't think he kept a joke book. it was said by some that he had a file of jokes, while he certainly jotted some down and there was a moment when he was waiting in the line that was being introduced at the white house and there was one person
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that had quite a long conversation and the conversation was about the source of the joke that lincoln had heard and he wanted to sort of that joke, which he couldn't find a way. but i don't think it was a written file, it was just filed a way up there. so lincoln said, no more than half a dozen stories have i made of myself. but he did adapt those stories. so the story, for example, of one he was complaining that grant drank whiskey, -- he sent, will just send a barrel of whiskey to all my other channels. that straight from joe miller. that's in the show miller truck book, that's not a regional. >> i obviously, his public life and political cases etc, more where he really benefited. we do see that he the greatest
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person to benefit his humor was his own psychology, his own ability to stand himself out of difficult movements, etc? >> i believe so. there is no way of quantifying. who benefited most from one consumer. but what one can say is that he himself regarded as absolutely essential to his well-being. and he sent a carpenter, the painter in the white house that if it were not for these events -- it is the event of my -- important for my well-being. he was acutely aware. at one stage, and this is relevant to your question. i won stage, he said, speaking of a member of his cabinet was probably sermon chase, biden might have been stanton.
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there were several potential candidates. he said, it was so difficult to get a joke into his head that it would take a surgical operation to implanted. now, it's very funny, it's actually not lincoln's, again his creation. he takes it from the english clergymen, sydney smith. red reverence in his mid. who was somewhat a servant. i mention that because smith suffered from depression. and he sent out a table of a recipe for preventing the worst effects of depression. some ten steps to avoiding the deepest depression. and at the center of these was humor. finding humor, being able to
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find humor in whatever circumstance you felt was a bit -- i'm sure that lincoln would have read sydney smith and he would have taken that lesson to heart. he didn't need to take it to heart, he had a really aren't it but he saw its importance. >> and how did it affect his marriage? quarter bath? but it she? think >> i think michael may be able to answer that question better than i. i think it is very unlikely that lincoln told many of these stories to marry. look at storytelling was meant for mail company. the so-called smutty jokes that he told, the off comments jokes that he told probably wouldn't strike assess quite appalling as they would have struck the victorian sensibilities. but they were intending for
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male company and the taverns and the circuit and cabinet room in the political intercourse conversation. how did it affect his wife? i don't know how far lincoln used humor within his married life. i think almost certainly his sense of irony, its capacity for dry wit, his capacity to any situation that was troubling, and a way that sort of might have turned into his advantage with mild humor. i think that probably would have been true of his marriage. but i don't think his marriage, the conversations in his marriage would've been the exchanging of stories. however decent. >> professor, is there any allegories or anecdotes that you didn't include in this morning's lecture and is there an equivalent in terms of sense
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of humor of any british politicians that come to mind? >> i've given only a small smattering of the many chokes, which are a large number available in a book recently published called lincoln's sense of humor. i forget who the author is now, but it's certainly would i've benefited enormously from reading, and i can tell you. so yeah, this is just the tip of the iceberg aisle that i've given you. i thought you were going to say, how does it compare with other americanxn+■g ents, which is a topic in its own. on the whole, i think that michael bishop, who introduced me, has been the head of the churchill national center here in washington, probably would want to say that churchill was
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the most obvious parallel. we were in fact talking before i came on about churchill's here were and rather like lincoln, churchill was both very funny in his own right. probably will be borne actually immediately, although lincoln had the capacity for weight, and about whom there apocryphal tales. and if i may, i'll tell that. churchill got a telegram from -- and message from george bernard shaw in which also that, i'm sending your two tickets for the first night of my new play. to come yourself and bring a friend, if you have one. to which churchill allegedly replied, thank you for your two
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tickets, i can't get along on the first night but i'll come along on the second night, if you have one. >> as the resident psychiatrist, i'd like to make a couple points. kind of to stir some thoughts here. i would suggest that there's a difference between lincoln's use of humor in public and private and his concern and difficulties with intimacy, i was wondering if you would comment on that because lincoln remains a person on noble in many ways, including people who thought they knew him while. i was wondering if you could comment on that. >> sorry, the distinguish between his public humor and -- >> lincoln used stories of humor in many ways to deflect.
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i was wondering if you would comment on that. >> i think that's a very important point. although lincoln was the life and soul of company and conversations, whether one-on-one or whether it bolger to have emerged. he remained unknowingly to most of them. in fact, probably to all of them, actually. did they really know him, how forthcoming was he? and i think, very often, i think i understand the nature of your question is that, joke telling being weighty, being funny is a way of tough electing discussion of matters of personal substance. so, you are the psychiatrist
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but i find that entirely -- >> i was wondering in your studies if you would go along with because -- >> i do. as david davies said about lincoln and anyone who believes they know what lincoln really believed, i was self delusional. he was the most shut mouth man but he wasn't a shut mouth man in the sense that he wrote wonderful speeches, he was wonderful company but in terms of the personal forthcoming and emotionally forthcoming, i think you davis was right. >> you can certainly think about the possible impact on his marriage and the relation to that. >> that was the last question.
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>> thank you. johnny course in hosted the tonight show from 1962 to 1992,

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