Best Lincoln Stories Tersely Told
by J. E. Gallaher
Pub. in 1898


The Duel Lincoln Didn't Fight.

President Abraham Lincoln and General Joe Shields, who married sisters, once arranged to fight a duel at Alton, Ill. It is remembered yet by the old settlers. Shields had offended a young lady at Springfield, and she got even by sending an article about it to a Springfield paper, signing a nom de plume. The next day General Shields called upon the editor and gave him 24 hours during which to divulge the name of the author or to take the consequences. The editor, who was a friend of Abraham Lincoln, called upon him and asked what to do. Not thinking it was a very serious affair, Lincoln promptly said, "Tell him that I wrote it." The editor did so, and General Shields challenged Lincoln to a duel, the latter accepting and choosing broadswords as the weapons and an island opposite Alton as the place. The principals and seconds went to the place appointed, when a chance remark of Lincoln that he hated to have to kill Shields because he caused him to believe that he wrote the article in order to protect a lady, brought about a reconciliation, and the duel failed to come off. Hundreds of people were on the bank of the river, and to carry out a joke a log was dressed up, placed in a skiff, the occupants fanning it with their hats as though it was an injured man, and the excitement was intense. It always remained a sore spot with Lincoln, and but little was ever said about it.

Page 28-29





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