Excerpt from The Story of Young Abraham Lincoln

A bumptious stranger came into the store one day and tried to pick a quarrel with the tall clerk. To this end he used language offensive to several women who were there trading. Lincoln quietly asked the fellow to desist as there were “ladies present.” The bully considered this an admission that the clerk was afraid of him, so he began to sear and use more offensive language than before. As this was too much for Abraham’s patience, he whispered to the fellow that if he would keep quiet till the ladies went out, he (Lincoln) would go and “have it out.”

After the women went, the man became violently abusive. Young Lincoln calmly went outside with him, saying: “I see you must be whipped and I suppose I will have to do it.” With this he seized the insolent fellow and made short work of him. Throwing the man on the ground, Lincoln sat on him, and, with his long arms, gathered a handful of “smartweed” which grew around them. He then rubbed it into the bully’s eyes until he roared with pain. An observer of this incident said afterward:

“Lincoln did all this without a particle of anger, and when the job was finished he went immediately for water, washed his victim’s face and did everything he could to alleviate the man’s distress. The upshot of the matter was that the fellow became his life-long friend, and was a better man from that day.”

Wayne Whipple. The Story of Young Abraham Lincoln. Phiadelphia: Henry Altemus Company, 1918. Pages 120-121.