The Steven Spielber movie about Lincoln opens across the nation this Friday. Here is a preview look at Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln.
Think you know everything there is to know about Abe? Check out these stunning facts about our favorite Land of Lincoln President.
• Lincoln Nearly Died After Being Kicked by a Horse -- In an 1859 autobiographical letter, Lincoln mentioned a near-death experience at age 10. Writing in the third-person, Lincoln said, "In his tenth year he was kicked by a horse, and apparently (sic) killed for a time."
• Lincoln Almost Fought a Saber Duel -- After a disagreement regarding the state bank in Illinois, Lincoln humiliated a fellow state legislator, James Shields, in a letter to the editor of a newspaper. When Lincoln refused to retract the letter, Shields challenged him to a duel. Lincoln set the conditions of the duel to his advantage, choosing sabers instead of pistols and stipulating that the combatants stand on a long, thin plank while dueling, allowing the much taller Lincoln to exploit his superior reach. The two men gathered at Bloody Island, an island between Illinois and Missouri that was frequently used for dueling, on Sept. 22, 1842. Shortly before the duel was to take place, mutual friends of Lincoln and Shields convinced the two to call it off.
• Lincoln Was the Only President to be Granted a Patent -- Lincoln, who steered flatboats down the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers in his youth, developed an idea for a device that would help lift boats over sandbars using inflatable bellows attached to the hull. Lincoln and mechanic Walter Davis developed a scale model that Lincoln used to secure Patent 6469 in 1849.
• Lincoln Was the First President to Grow a Beard -- Lincoln was clean-shaven when he began running for president. He grew a beard after receiving a letter from Grace Bedell, an 11-year-old girl from New York, in October 1860, a few weeks before the election. Grace said that with a beard he "would look a great deal better for your face is so thin." Furthermore, she wrote, "All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husbands to vote for you and then you would be President."
• Lincoln Likely Suffered From Depression -- Lincoln was often described as suffering from melancholy during his life and his own letters suggest that he was prone to bouts of depression. Lincoln likely would have been diagnosed with clinical depression if he were alive today. Joshua Wolf Shenk wrote in his 2005 book "Lincoln's Melancholy" that Lincoln "could be used in a psychiatry textbook to illustrate a typical depression." However, Shenk also argued that Lincoln’s depression drove him to become a great president. During the dark days of the Civil War, Shenk says, "The suffering he had endured lent him clarity and conviction, creative skills in the face of adversity, and a faithful humility that helped him guide the nation through its greatest peril."
• Lincoln Was Not the Keynote Speaker at Gettysburg -- Lincoln was invited to the opening of the Gettysburg cemetery on November 19, 1863, and asked to make "a few appropriate remarks," after the keynote speaker, Edward Everett. Everett spoke for two hours before Lincoln delivered one of the most famous speeches in American history in the span of just a few minutes. The following day, Everett sent a note to Lincoln expressing admiration for the "eloquent simplicity" of his brief remarks. Lincoln responded, "In our respective parts yesterday, you could not have been excused to make a short address, nor I a long one. I am pleased to know that, in your judgment, the little I did say was not entirely a failure."
• Lincoln’s Body Has Been Moved 17 Times, And Was Nearly Stolen -- In 1876, a Chicago-based counterfeiting ring schemed to steal Lincoln's body from its unguarded tomb in the Oak Ridge cemetery in Springfield, Illinois, and hold it for ransom. The plot was to be carried out by two men who had no experience stealing bodies, so they recruited a third man, Lewis Swegles. Swegles, as it turned out, was an informant for the Secret Service. Swegles alerted authorities who moved in on the two men and were soon able to arrest them. For a host of reasons, Lincoln's body was exhumed and moved 17 times after his burial. Finally, it 1901, a new tomb was constructed. After his coffin was partially opened and 23 witnesses confirmed that Lincoln's body was inside, it was encased in 4,000 pounds of cement.
Read more about the upcoming Lincoln movie HERE.