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Lincoln Quiz

On June 14, 1837, Lincoln closed his accounts as postmaster of New Salem, Illinois. What was his postal career like?

Lincoln received his postmaster's position by President Andrew Jackson, a Democrat, on May 7, 1833. In Lincoln's 1860 autobiography, he pointed out that the office was "too insignificant" to make politics an objection (he supported the Whig party at the time).

The job didn't support Lincoln completely or require his full-time attention, so he also performed odd jobs such as rail splitting and began work as a land surveyor.

A few benefits came with Lincoln's position. For example, he could receive one daily newspaper without charge, and could read all the papers delivered to his town, which kept him informed of public opinion. He also knew virtually everyone in his postal district, which helped him when he first ran for the Illinois legislature.

Lincoln developed a distinctive habit while postmaster -- that of carrying letters in the lining of his tall hat. The custom of using his hat as a letter basket or briefcase persisted for many years.

Lincoln kept his postal receipts in an old blue sock hidden in a wooden chest, according to Harvey Ross, whose father held the contract for the mail route going through New Salem. Lincoln's salary as postmaster depended on the amount of receipts of his office.

When Lincoln was asked for the remaining funds from his postmaster account, the money was still in the sock. According to Dr. Anson Henry, Lincoln owed the Government between $16 and $18, and when an agent finally arrived to collect it, Lincoln "returned with an old blue sock with a quantity of silver and copper coin tied up in it. Untying the sock, he poured out the contents on the table and proceeded to count it, and the exact sum (and the identical coin) was found which years before he had received for postage-stamps from his friends in New Salem. All the intervening years the money had been placed aside in an old trunk, and, no matter how much he needed the money, he never thought of using that which he held in trust for the Government."

Other Quizzes

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  • Which Lincoln relative died on January 17, 1851?
  • How did Lincoln spend Christmas week as President and President-elect?
  • Which impact did Lincoln's election have on his professional life?
  • Which friend of Lincoln was killed on October 21, 1861?
  • Which two things would Lincoln not want you to know?
  • How did Lincoln bring fame to Beardstown, Illinois?
  • How did Lincoln spend the Fourth of July?
  • What happened the morning of February 11, 1861?
  • What happened behind the scenes with Lincoln's First Inaugural Address?

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