No President understood the power of humor better than Abraham Lincoln. His longtime political opponent Stephen A. Douglas complained that Lincoln’s jokes were “like a slap across my back. Nothing else — not any of his arguments or any of his replies to my questions — disturbs me. But when he begins to tell a story, I feel that I am to be overmatched.”
Whether it was in the courtroom, the corridors of government, or out on the campaign trail, Douglas and other opponents of Lincoln’s saw their carefully-presented, eloquent arguments forgotten by the audience when Lincoln responded with a humorous story.
In one of their debates, Douglas dazzled the audience with a masterful oration, only to have everyone forget his words when Lincoln replied, saying that Douglas’ arguments were “as thin as the homeopathic soup that was made by boiling the shadow of a pigeon that had starved to death.”
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