As many of you know, my son is a successful fencer, and I've taken up the sport in the last year. The culture of fencing and swordplay is fascinatingly fun; a nice compliment to the sport itself. I ran across this story today on The Futility Closet, and thought I'd share:
In 1842, Abraham Lincoln, then an Illinois lawyer, published a letter in a Springfield newspaper criticizing the performance of the state’s auditor, James Shields. Shields, quick to anger, challenged Lincoln to a duel, and the two met on an island in the Mississippi River. As the challenged party, Lincoln was permitted to choose the weapon, and he requested long cavalry broadswords. As he stood 7 inches taller than Shields, this gave him an enormous advantage, which he demonstrated by cutting a branch above Shields’ head. Accounts differ as to how the auditor responded — he either laughed or quailed — but the two agreed not to fight. Lincoln appears to have been embarrassed by the whole affair, and declined to discuss it in later years.