Abraham Lincoln is widely known for an assortment of achievements but, people often overlook the small stories and facts that make our 16th President so interesting. Most people believe Abraham Lincoln grew up in a small cabin; his family was forced out of their homes; he had to work to support them; his business failed repeatedly; he ran for Vice President, but only got 110 votes; he overcame his long, long string of hardships and failures and finally was elected President of the United States. Most would call that a “rag to riches story,” but surprisingly enough, this wasn’t the truest of stories.
Abraham did grow up in a small cabin, just like everyone else whose father decided to make their mark on the great American frontier. Your choices were farming on the frontier or slaving in the factories of an increasing industrialized society. Lincoln's father decided he'd rather rough it than, say, get his arm melted off in an iron smelting furnace. So while Lincoln didn't have a flushing toilet or some of the more luxurious items, he grew up in a reasonably normal home for his time. His father was a successful farmer and the only reason they left Kentucky was over a legal issue with the land title.
When Lincoln was a teenager, he moved with his family to New Salem, Illinois, a town that was unofficially run by an unruly gang, called "the Clary Grove's Boys.” They would routinely get drunk and beat people up at random and reportedly called themselves “regulators," and "was the terror of all who did not acknowledge their rule." Jack Armstrong, the leader of the Clary Grove's Boys, was the biggest in the gang and the toughest fighter in the area, and he wasn't shy about either fact. Lincoln (still brand new in town) was tired of hearing about how good of a fighter Armstrong was and bet Armstrong $10 that he could find someone who could beat him.
Armstrong accepted but, when fight day arrived, Lincoln's man never showed up. They waited and waited and, when Armstrong demanded that Lincoln forfeit and pay up, Lincoln decided that, rather than lose $10, he would fight Armstrong himself. While Lincoln did have an advantage in both height and elongated arms, Armstrong had a lot more fighting experience under his belt and was the odds-on favorite.
After the fight, Armstrong and the rest of the Boys decided to become best friends with Lincoln. That might seem crazy, but if your choices are "swallow your pride and play nice" or "constantly live in fear of the terrifying Stretch Armstrong Frankenstein," you'd probably choose the friend option, too. Luckily, Lincoln was loyal to his friends and very reasonable, and the reputation of the Clary Groves Boys diminished as Lincoln’s influence grew in his new neighborhood.
Another thing which gave Abraham Lincoln such a big reputation was the fact that he had long arms, which makes sense, as he is the tallest president we've had. What doesn't make sense is specifically how long they were. According to...