I was just reading William Lee Miller’s review of David Herbert Donald’s We Are Lincoln Men: Abraham Lincoln and His Friends when I came across the following delightful anecdote:

[Donald] likes to imagine, and I do too, an incident, possibly apocryphal, when this president and his secretary of state [William Henry Seward] were strolling down Pennsylvania Avenue. The president pointed to a sign saying ”T. R. Strong,” and wisecracked, ”but coffee are stronger,” and the two collapsed in laughter.

I like a man with a weakness for bad puns.


  1. This is now a little dated, but I thought I’d share:
    In a recent issue of The Nation, someone wrote a letter on the occasion of Al Gore endorsing Howard Dean. They pointed out that the other candidates would now have to untie the Gore-Dean knot!

  2. Here is a link to go with the pun.

  3. What do you expect after a long day of running a war, getting pestered by job seekers, and writing endless letters to war widows? (Writer’s Cramp, the Carpel Tunnel of the 1860s)
    You try dealing with General Burnside and see what happens to your sense of humor.

  4. My father’s version of the joke was “Pie are not square. Pie are round”.

  5. My oncle likes to say “Le bon Dieu a fait les planets, et nous avons fait les plats nets.” If I recall correctly. I believe it’s also in Rabelais.

  6. It would be even funnier if the president in question was Theodore Roosevelt, thus making the pun three-way.

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