Pioneers of Menard & Mason Counties
Including Personal Reminiscens of Abraham Lincoln & Peter Cartwright
By T.G. Onstot, 1902

How Lincoln Cured Charles Revis from Swearing

Page 85

Mr. Lincoln, though not a church member, and never made a profession of religion, was always disgusted and shocked when he heard men making use of profane language, and a circumstance will illustrate. It took place when Lincoln was keeping postoffice and store in New Salem. A young man by the name of Charles Revis, about twenty years of age, lived with his father, John Revis, on the bluff of the Sangamon River a few miles north of Salem. Charlie, as he was familiarly called, was in the habit of coming to Salem about every other day and would make the postoffice his headquarters. Here he would sit and spin out his yarns to the men who would gather around him. As he had at one time been a hand on a keel-boat he had contracted the habit of using profane language. He could swear by note. In fact, almost every other word was an oath. He was so in the habit of swearing that he scarcely knew when he did swear.

One day he came into the store while a couple of ladies were in the store doing some trading, and getting their mail. Charlie was sitting on a dry goods box telling his stories to his companions and almost every word would utter one of his big oaths.

Lincoln noticed that the ladies were very much shocked at his profanity, and after they had left Lincoln walked up to Revis and said to him: "Now Charlie Revis, I have admonished you a number of times about swearing in this store before ladies and you have paid no attention to it and now I am going to punish you so you will recollect it." So he took him by the arm and led him out a short distance from the store to a vacant lot where there was a large patch of smart weed.

He threw him on his back and put his foot on his breast and commenced to gather smart weed. He then commenced and rubbed his face, eyes and mouth with it till Revis began to yell and he promised Mr. Lincoln if he would let him up he would never swear in the presence of ladies again. Lincoln told him to promise that he would never swear before anybody again and Charlie promised. Mr. Lincoln let him up and a complete reformation was made in the language of Charlie Revis, and from that day his most intimate friends said that they never heard an oath escape his lips. When they asked him why he had stopped so suddenly from using profane language he said that he had promised Mr. Lincoln that he would stop swearing and that he was going to keep his word. In a short time Peter Cartright held a camp meeting in that community and Charles Revis and a number of his companions were converted and formed a church. Charlie got married and settled down and was one of the best citizens in all that community, and it may be that the severe means that Lincoln employed bore the right point in reforming Charles Revis and a right application of smart weed well rubbed in would help a great many in this day who use great red hot oaths in there conversation.

Transcribed by:Brenda Hamilton Johnson



1902 Index

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Illinois Ancestors