Thursday marks the 206th birthday of the 16th U.S. president just ahead of Presidents Day. But did you know that Presidents Day technically doesn’t include Abraham Lincoln? The law that set aside the third Monday in February as a federal holiday mentions only George Washington’s birthday.
What other little-known trivia don’t you know about Honest Abe? Below are 14 facts about the man on the penny.
Lincoln is the only U.S. president to have a patent. While still a congressman in 1849, he patented a device that lifted boats over shoals in rivers. The patent was never used in manufacturing, forgotten and rediscovered in 1997.
He didn’t smoke or drink regularly. However, Lincoln did drink lager beer for a while on the advice of a doctor hoping to cure a cold, according to the Lincoln Institute.
He was the first president to not be born in the 13 original states. Lincoln was born in a one-room log cabin in Kentucky, moved with his family to Indiana and later ended up in Illinois.
He was also the first president to be assassinated.
He met his future wife at a dance in 1838. She was rich; he was poor. Their engagement was complicated -- Lincoln broke it off at least once -- but they married in 1842. “The heavy black clouds that had been massing all day sent down great splashing tear drops; then with the rain beating down in roaring torrents, raging and rattling at doors and windows, Mary Todd became the wife of Abraham Lincoln,” wrote one biographer.
Lincoln’s mom died of milk sickness, which is caused by a victim eating meat or drinking milk from a cow that has been poisoned by the white snakeroot plant. His dad later remarried.
Once, when asked if Lincoln had a hobby, his wife replied, “Cats.” He brought a few stray kittens into the White House, and once reportedly fed his cat, Tabby, at the table with a golden fork.
Lincoln also had a dog named Fido, two goats named Nanny and Nanko, and a horse named Old Bob, according to the National Park Service.
The Lincolns had four children, but only one survived to adulthood. His last direct descendant died in 1985.
Chicken fricassee is believed to have been one of Lincoln’s favorite foods.
Lincoln kept important papers, notes and bills under his top hat, according to the National Constitution Center.
The play Lincoln was seeing the night he died was “Our American Cousin.” His bodyguard left during intermission to get drinks.
His assassin, actor John Wilkes Booth, had formed a plan with three men to kill key players in ending the Civil War: Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward. The conspirators were all supposed to eliminate their targets at the same time on April 14, 1865, but only Booth was successful.
Lincoln’s funeral took more than three weeks, as his coffin traveled 1,654 miles from Washington to his burial site in Springfield, Illinois.
To further your education about the 16th president on his birthday, here are some quotations made famous by Lincoln:
“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.”
“A friend is one who has the same enemies as you have.”
“In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and eternity.”
“No man is good enough to govern another man without the other’s consent.”
“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”
“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
“We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”
“Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.”