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Rebecca O'Connell (iStock)(Getty Images)

5 of Abraham Lincoln’s Favorite Foods

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Rebecca O'Connell (iStock)(Getty Images)

Honest Abe was born 208 years ago today, so we’ve gathered some menu options for a Lincoln-approved birthday buffet. Enjoy.

1. BACON

According to the sixteenth President’s last bodyguard, Colonel William H. Crook, “Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln breakfasted at nine. Mr. Lincoln was a hearty eater. He never lost his taste for the things a growing farmer’s boy would like. He was particularly fond of bacon.” One wonders what he’d have thought of “Epic Mealtime”…

It’s worth noting that in the mid-1800s, “bacon” had a slightly different meaning. Today, this breakfast food’s defined as “cured meat taken from the side or belly of a pig.” But, back then, any slice of pork that had been salted and cured qualified as proper bacon.

2. APPLES

Mrs. Lincoln always had a sufficiency of this fruit chosen carefully and readily at hand,” Crook writes in Memories of the White House (1911). The health-conscious statesman considered these a dietary staple. “Apples,” he said, “agree with me… a large per cent of professional men abuse their stomachs by imprudence in drinking and eating, and in that way health is injured and life is shortened.”

3. CORN CAKES

Much as he liked nutritious snacks, Lincoln wasn’t above the occasional cheat day. Abe often bragged that he could devour tasty corn cakes “as quickly as two women could make them.”

4. OYSTERS

Along with his remarks at Gettysburg, Lincoln’s second inaugural address has become one of the man’s most iconic speeches. Yet, the after-party was a bit of a disaster. At his White House’s celebratory ball, Lincoln threw a banquet complete with one of his favorite foods, oysters, in both stew and pickled form. Unfortunately, the guests soon learned that there wasn’t quite enough grub to go around. Like frenzied, well-dressed locusts, hungry visitors started swarming the buffet line, spilling countless entrees en route. As the Washington Evening Star reported, “The floor of the supper room was soon sticky, pasty and oily with wasted confections, mashed cake and debris of foul [sic] and meat.” Yum!

5. GINGERBREAD MEN

While debating Stephen A. Douglas, Lincoln amused their audience with a childhood story about his mother’s gingerbread men. One day, the senatorial candidate recalled, she’d baked three for him. After carrying the treats outside, he spotted a friend who hailed from a much poorer family.

Abe,” his young associate said, “gimme a man.” He did so, but before Lincoln could even finish his first, the boy blurted, “Abe, gimme that other’n.” Reluctantly, he handed it over, quipping, “You seem to like gingerbread men.” “Abe,” his pal sighed, “I don’t s’pose anybody on earth likes gingerbread better’n I do—and gets less’n I do...”

This post originally ran in 2015.

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Courtesy Sotheby's
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You Can Buy the Oldest Surviving Photo of a U.S. President
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Courtesy Sotheby's

The descendent of a 19th-century U.S. Congressman has discovered a previously unknown presidential portrait that is likely the oldest surviving photograph of a U.S. president, The New York Times reports.

Previously, two 1843 portraits of John Quincy Adams were thought to be the oldest photographs of a president still around. Currently hanging in the National Portrait Gallery, one of them was found on sale at an antique shop in 1970 for a mere 50 cents. Now, an even older photo of the sixth president has been uncovered, and it’ll cost you more than 50 cents to buy it.

Adams sat for dozens of photographs throughout his life, so it’s not entirely surprising that a few more surviving portraits would be uncovered. At the time this newly discovered half-plate daguerreotype was taken in March 1843, Adams had already served out his term as president and had returned to Congress as a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts. The photo was taken by Philip Haas, who in August of that same year would take other daguerreotypes that we previously thought were the oldest surviving photos. (Despite his apparent willingness to be photographed, Adams called them “all hideous.”)

John Quincy Adams sits in a portrait studio in 1843.
Courtesy Sotheby's

After having three daguerreotypes taken that day in March, Adams gave one of them to his friend and fellow Congressman Horace Everett, inscribing it with both their names. Everett’s great-great-grandson eventually found it in his family’s belongings and is now putting it up for sale through Sotheby’s.

It isn't the oldest picture of a U.S. president ever taken, though. The first-ever was actually a portrait of William Henry Harrison made in 1841, but unlike this one, the original has not survived. (The Metropolitan Museum of Art owns a copy of it, which was made in 1850.)

The head of the Sotheby’s department for photographs, Emily Bierman, told The New York Times that the newly discovered image is “without a doubt the most important historical photo portrait to be offered at auction in the last 20 years.” (She also noted that the former POTUS is wearing “cute socks” in it.)

The daguerreotype will be on sale as part of a photography auction at Sotheby’s in October and is expected to sell for an estimated $150,000 to $250,000. Start saving.

[h/t The New York Times]

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The Great Presidential Pardon Heist

Awarded by the Commander-in-Chief, presidential pardons override previous rulings handed down by any other federal judge or court. Some presidents are more generous with pardons than others, but overall, they’ve been granted with increasing frequency since Washington issued the first 16, including two for participants of the Whiskey Rebellion. By contrast, Barack Obama pardoned, commuted, or otherwise granted clemency to 1927 people.

Despite the increasing number, receiving a pardon is no easy task. First, there’s a required waiting period of five years. Applicants must write an essay about why they are seeking clemency, including documentation; they also need at least three character references, and they have to go through a “very thorough” federal review. And that’s just for starters.

However, if you’re determined to get a presidential pardon, there are other ways to go about obtaining one (though we don't recommend it)—as long as you don’t care whose name is on the certificate. Just ask Shawn Aubitz.

Some time in the middle of his 14-year career as a curator with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Aubitz realized he was sitting on a gold mine: The files, letters, maps, and photographs he handled every day could command big bucks from the right collectors. From 1996-1999, he pulled off the historical heist of the century simply by surreptitiously slipping documents into his briefcase. Over the three-year period, Aubitz made off with hundreds of items, including 64 pardons and 316 photos taken by astronauts.

Though the number is rather staggering, the thefts weren’t discovered until 2000, when a National Park Service employee noticed a suspicious item for sale on eBay and notified the National Archives about the auction. The National Archives Office of the Inspector General quickly took action and discovered a total of four National Archives documents on eBay. The items were traced to Aubitz, who pled guilty to the crimes in 2002. In court, Aubitz blamed his actions on “a compulsive need to amass collections for self-esteem and approval,” but also admitted that his motives were financial—he used more than $200,000 in ill-gotten funds to pay his credit card debt. Aubitz served 21 months in prison for his crimes and paid $73,793 in restitution.

Because Aubitz provided the names of his buyers, many of the pilfered items were recovered, such as a warrant for the seizure of Robert E. Lee's estate during the Civil War. Many are still missing, however, including pardons issued by 10 presidents, from James Madison to Rutherford B. Hayes. So, history buffs, if you’re not totally sure about the origins of that Andrew Jackson-signed pardon hanging on your study wall, contact NARA at MissingDocuments@nara.gov.

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