An Unprofitable Battle.
Tuesday, August 31, 1858
The following story is told by some of Lincoln's old acquaintances, as being appropriate to Douglas' proposition at Havana to fight him, and Lincoln's reply that a fight would prove nothing essential to the issues of the campaign:
"A Number of years ago, indeed, shortly after Abe had begun to make a figure at the bar, an old hard-fisted Sucker apptied to him to go to Bloomington and defend him in a suit brought by a neighbor for assult and battery. The evidence went to show that Abe's client was the offending party, and, what was worse, that he had come out of it only second best being, as the neighbors expressed it, pretty badly ‘chawed up.’ Abe saw that the only chance for his client lay in ridiculing the thing out of court. Just before the close of the testimony, a witness for the prosecution observed that the individuals fought all over an acre of ground. ‘Now, gentlemen of the jury,’ said Abe, ‘you have heard all the testimony in this case, and I submit to you that it was a very small potato-fight. You have heard that these men hammered each other over an acre of ground. Gentlemen of the jury, did you ever know of a fight that turned out so little to the acre?’ The Court, jury, spectators, lawyers and clients exploded in a fit of uncontrollable laughter. Abe's adversary got only nominal damages."
We take it that a fight between Abe and Douglas, according to the latter's proposition, while it would result badly for the pugnacious Dred Scottite, would "turn out very little to the acre."