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Rail Splinters

Lincoln As Stand-up Comedian

July 4, 2021

An eBay seller recently offered a copy of the “Debates” which contained a written eyewitness account of a speech Lincoln gave in Danville, Illinois on September 22, 1858, at McReynold’s Grove. Douglas had appeared there the prior day so Lincoln prefaced his remarks by comparing himself to Douglas, thereby “warming up the crowd” and eliciting laughter. We do not know if the event was reported in the local papers at the time. Primary source material such as this is a crucial component of the Lincoln story. We leave it up to our readers to read the text and perhaps imagine themselves as part of the audience on that early Fall day.