LINCOLN STORIES: Squire Bagly's Precedent

Abraham Lincoln, whose Emancipation Proclamation freed more than four million slaves, was an effective politician, profound statesman, and a shrewd diplomat. He also had a keen sense of humor. His stories and anecdotes gave rise to his moniker as the "Great Story Telling President." For the next few weeks we will share some of those stories from the *Project Gutenberg's Lincoln's Yarns and Stories, by Alexander K. McClure. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Mr. T. W. S. Kidd, of Springfield, says that he once heard a lawyer opposed to Lincoln trying to convince a jury that precedent was superior to law, and that custom made things legal in all cases.

When Lincoln arose to answer him he told the jury he would argue his case in the same way.

"Old 'Squire Bagly, from Menard, came into my office and said, 'Lincoln, I want your advice as a lawyer. Has a man what's been elected justice of the peace a right to issue a marriage license?'

I told him he had not; when the old 'squire threw himself back in his chair very indignantly, and said, 'Lincoln, I thought you was a lawyer.

Now Bob Thomas and me had a bet on this thing, and we agreed to let you decide; but if this is your opinion I don't want it, for I know a thunderin' sight better, for I have been 'squire now for eight years and have done it all the time.'"