Abraham Lincoln experienced many hardships in his life, suffering from what in his day was known as “melancholy,” but today we would call clinical depression. Despite this, the United States’ 16th President loved to laugh and tell jokes. His many witty stories elicited chuckles and groans in equal measure, while his sharp one-liners were used to poke fun at his rivals as well as at himself.

I have now come to the conclusion never again to think of marrying; and for this reason: I can never be satisfied with anyone who would be block-head enough to have me.

Abraham Lincoln poked fun at himself as much as at anyone else, as shown in this line from a letter written to Mrs. Orville H. Browning in 1838 (four years before he married Mary Todd).

I didn’t want the [damned] fellow to kill me, which I think he would have done if we had selected pistols.

In 1842, the young Abraham Lincoln publicly ridiculed politician James Shields during a debate about banking in Illinois, leading Shields to challenge Lincoln to a duel. Being the far larger and stronger man , Lincoln, who had the privilege of choosing the weapons, went with “cavalry broadswords of the largest size.” The two men later called a truce on the day of the duel.

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