The Important Lesson Abraham Lincoln Shared Using Gingerbread

Some history lessons are sweeter than others, especially when it comes to presidents and the cookies they enjoyed. Per Bake Magazine, the fifth president of the United States, James Monroe, liked his cry babies or molasses cookies; Grover Cleveland had to have his snickerdoodles; Calvin Coolidge was a fan of ice box cookies. But the story of Abraham Lincoln and his mother's gingerbread cookies might be our favorite. In fact, according to The American Table, the 16th president of the United States used these cookies to teach his political rival an important lesson. 

As the story goes, Abraham Lincoln was debating Stephen Douglas. Douglas quickly went from flattering Lincoln to criticizing him in front of a crowd of voters. Douglas implied that if the crowd voted for Lincoln, the issue of slavery would divide the country. That's when Lincoln cleverly turned to a story about the gingerbread cookies his mother made for him as a young child. Lincoln was from a family of little means, but when he was a boy in Indiana his mother would make him this special treat whenever she had a little extra ginger and sorghum. One day, Mama Lincoln made Honest Abe three gingerbread cookies and sent him outside to enjoy them. That's when these cookies turned from a treat to a life lesson.

The lesson of Lincoln's gingerbread

According to The American Table, Lincoln revealed to the crowd that a boy who had even less than the Lincolns wandered by while he was sitting under a tree and nibbling on the legs of his cookie. Recounting the story, Lincoln said the boy asked for one of the coveted treats by saying, "Abe, gimme a man." Lincoln gave him one, but before Abe could even finish half of his gingerbread, the kid had already eaten his whole cookie. The boy pleaded for a second, demanding, "Abe. Gimme that other'n." Of course, Lincoln was hoping to enjoy the last cookie himself, but he noticed how much joy the first one had given the boy. He said, "You seem to like gingerbread men." The boy responded, "Abe. I don't s'pose anybody on earth likes gingerbread better'n I do –- and gets less'n I do ..."

In the debate, Lincoln likened himself to the boy enjoying the gingerbread saying, "I was not very accustomed to flattery and it came the sweeter to me. I was rather like the Hoosier, with the gingerbread, when he said he reckoned he loved it better than any other man, and got less of it." There are definitely a couple of takeaways from Lincoln's tale, the first being not to be taken in by flattery. As the Daily Beast points out, it's also a good lesson about sharing even when you don't have a lot.