John S. Bliss

“He will be Back after that in a Few Minutes.”

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While sitting in the position described little Willie, his son, came in and begged his father for twenty-five cents. ‘My son,’ said the father, ‘what do you want with twenty-five cents?’ ‘I want it to buy candy with,’ cried the boy. ‘I cannot give you twenty-five cents, my son, but will give you five cents,’ at the same time putting his thumb and finger into his vest pocket and taking therefrom five cents in silver, which he placed upon the desk before the boy. But this did not reach Willie’s expectations; he scorned the pile, and turning away clambered down-stairs and through the spacious halls of the Capitol, leaving behind him his five cents and a distinct reverberation of sound. Mr. Lincoln turned to me and said, ‘He will be back after that in a few minutes.‘ ‘Why do you think so?’ said I. ‘Because, as soon as he finds I will give him no more he will come and get it.’ After the matter had been nearly forgotten and conversation had turned in an entirely different channel, Willie came cautiously in behind my chair and that of his father, picked up the specie, and went away without saying a word.”

-J. S. Bliss, letter, Jan. 29, 1867, MS  

Quoted in Herndon’s Lincoln: A True Story of a Great Life Written by William H. Herndon and Jesse W. Weik, ed. Herndon-283-05