A Lincoln miscellany

PresidentialMis
Lincoln was a unique President. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

 

By Rita Van Fleet

Although President Lincoln does not have a special national day of his own, he was special. In addition to being the President of the United States, he was very interested in technology, a loving parent, and evidently held at least one unusual belief.  

Abraham Lincoln was the only US president to hold a US patent.  On May 22, 1849, Abraham Lincoln was issued Patent No. 6469 for a device to lift boats over shoals.  The scale model of his invention is displayed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. Although his invention which was never manufactured, Lincoln evidenced a life-long interest in technology and invention.  Lincoln based his invention on his observations when he had traveled down river to New Orleans as a deck hand on a raft. See the device at https://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/education/patent.htm.

There is a tradition that Lincoln took young Robert to be treated with a “mad stone” after a dog bite, possibly in September 1859.  A Mad Stone was reputed to be a cure rabies. It is a stony concretion (like a hair ball) taken from the stomach of a deer or other animal.  They can be round or oval in shape in a variety of colors with a porous but shiny surface texture measuring about 3 to 4 inches in size and very light weight. Pinterest has a collection of bezoar stones at https://www.pinterest.com/ArsMedica/bezoar/.

The patient must come to the stone and there can be no charge for treatment. The stone is boiled in sweet milk and applied to a bleeding wound.  If it is no longer bleeding it must be scraped until it is bleeding.  The sweet milk is supposed to neutralize the poison from the bite. If the wound is infected with rabies, the Mad Stone will stick to the wound and draw out the poison. When the stone falls off, it is boiled until it turns green (releasing the poison) and replaced on the wound until the poison is all removed. When it will no longer stick to the wound after boiling, the poison is gone–or so Lincoln believed.

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