A Perfect Fizzle

Did you know that in 1861, Abraham Lincoln spent his Valentine’s Day in Pittsburgh?  I came upon this article the other day, describing what sounds to be one of the most dismal Valentine’s Days ever.  Lincoln was exhausted and hoarse, and hoping that the gloomy weather would keep the crowds to a minimum.  He had no such luck though; 10,000 people gathered in Steubenville to hear him speak, and despite the fact that he didn’t arrive in Allegheny City until night, a crowd of 10,000 more people awaited him in the cold rain, prompting a newspaper reporter to say of the event, “A more perfect fizzle was never witnessed.”  His arrival in Pittsburgh found even more crowds awaiting him, and though Lincoln tried to demur they insisted on a speech, until he finally promised to speak to them the following morning. 

Obviously, Lincoln had some fans in the Iron City.  Of course, Lincoln was, and still is, known as one of the best orators of his time.  Books like The Eloquent President: A Portrait of Lincoln Through His Words, Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America, and Lincoln’s Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural examine some of his more famous speeches.  He was also, by all accounts, a pretty humorous guy. Abe Lincoln Laughing shares some stories from his aquaintances about his celebrated sense of humor, while the fictional movie Young Mr. Lincoln presents an imagined view of what the young Lincoln might have been like, his intensity as a lawyer balanced by his dry wit. And for more books on his oratory, humor, or life, you can search for books on Lincoln in our catalog under the subject heading Lincoln, Abraham– 1809-1865.


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3 responses to “A Perfect Fizzle

  1. I read this story in The New York Times on the 14th. Travel must have been so exhausting back then–not that it’s that great now. I’m a newcomer to PGH (& a history lover) so it’s interesting to read about stuff like this.

  2. Beth McLaughlin

    I find Lincoln’s life interesting and this post has inspired me to learn more about his life. While visiting D.C. this past fall 2010 I found out assisination was attempted on Lincoln’s life prior to the one that led to his death. During his commute to work during his presidency someone shot at him and the bullet went through one of his stovepipe hats.

  3. Amanda

    So is Lincoln a lover or a fighter?

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