April 15th marks 151 years since the United States lost one of its greatest sons. Abraham Lincoln’s greatest accomplishments are well-documented in history books and film, but there’s much more to the man than his stovepipe hat:
1. Before Lincoln fought the Confederacy, he was beating people up in the wrestling ring. One of his most famous matches took place in 1831 against an Illinois county champion and notorious bully named Jack Armstrong. Abe was able to defeat him with ease.
In fact, of approximately 300 matches Lincoln only lost one match to a man named Hank Thompson, who Lincoln got to know while serving with the Illinois Volunteers during the Black Hawk Indian War. Such accomplishments did not go unnoticed: in 1992, Abraham Lincoln was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
2. When he wasn’t busy putting the hurt on opponents inside the squared circle, Abe wasn’t above a funny prank or two. Lincoln played one memorable prank on his stepmother, Sarah Bush Lincoln. A teenager at the time, Lincoln was already as tall as a tree. His stepmother would often tease him about his height, saying that he’d better keep his head clean, otherwise she’d have to scrub the ceiling.
While watching two children play barefoot in the mud while Sarah was out one day, Abe got an idea for a prank. He invited both kids in, picked them up, flipped them upside down and had them walk on the ceiling, covering it in muddy footprints. Luckily for Lincoln, his stepmother was amused. But not that much—she still made him repaint the ceiling.
3. This is the first photograph of a presidential dog. It shows Fido, Abe’s beloved pet. Although we’re not sure when the picture was taken, it did start a presidential tradition that continues to this day.
4. Lincoln once made a political opponent cry. This happened early on in Lincoln’s political career, when Lincoln took on a Democrat named Jesse Thomas in an 1840 Springfield, Illinois debate. When his turn came, Abe began ridiculing his opponent by mimicking his voice and gestures. The crowd’s positive reaction further emboldened Lincoln’s mocking, to the point that Thomas eventually fled the platform in tears.
5. To this day Abraham Lincoln remains the only U.S. President to register a patent, Patent No. 6469. This patented “buoying vessels over shoals” is basically an expandable bellows fitted to the sides of a boat in order to raise it over shoals or other obstructions.