For those of you have not yet joined the Doris Kearns Goodwin fan club, I wanted to share a story of Lincoln’s that she often recounts. Lincoln, of course, was known for his unparalleled story telling ability. He would sit by the fireplace and regale his listeners with jokes and winding tales for hours. This was how he won the hearts that won him the presidency.
Lincoln told a story of Ethan Allen, an American Revolution war hero who went to Britain after the war. (And who oddly enough has a furniture company named after him.) After he arrived, the British, still upset about having lost the war, put their measly Brit minds together and came up with a plot to try to embarrass Allen by putting a large portrait of George Washington in the only outhouse where he might encounter it. They had hoped Allen would be upset about the indignity of George Washington being in an outhouse. That night, after dinner and conversation, Allen made his way out, candle in hand, and did his business. He came back in as high of spirits as ever.
“Didn’t you see George Washington in there?!” they said.
“Oh yes,” said Allen. “Perfectly appropriate place for him”
“What do you mean?” They said.
“Well,” he said, “there is nothing to make an Englishman shit faster than the sight of General George Washington.