The following story illustrates the power of Mr. Lincoln’s memory of names and faces. When he was a comparatively young man and a candidate for the Illinois Legislature, he made a personal canvass of the district. While "swinging around the circle" he stopped one day and took dinner with a farmer in Sangamon county.
Years afterward, when Mr. Lincoln had become President, a soldier came to call on him at the White House. At the first glance the Chief Executive said: "Yes, I remember; you used to live on the Danville road. I took dinner with you when I was running for the Legislature. I recollect that we stood talking out at the barnyard gate, while I sharpened my jackknife.
"Y-a-a-s," drawled the soldier; "you did. But say, wherever did you put that whetstone? I looked for it a dozen times, but I never could find it after the day you used it. We allowed as how mabby you took it ‘long with you."
"No,’ said Lincoln, looking serious and pushing away a lot of documents of state from the desk in front of him. "No, I put it on top of that gatepost—that high one."
"Well!" exclaimed the visitor, "Mabby you did. Couldn’t anybody else have put it there, and none of us ever thought of looking there for it."
The soldier was then on his way home, and when he got there the first thing he did was to look for the whetstone. And sure enough, there it was, just where Lincoln had laid it fifteen years before. The honest fellow wrote a letter to the Chief Magistrate, telling him that the whetstone had been found, and would never be lost again.