A Journal of Strength, Health, and Self Cultivation
Abraham Lincoln was fascinated with strength, and he would have been eager to wrestle against George Washington had their lives crossed. Public domain image.
During the autumn of 1958, challenger Abraham Lincoln faced off with incumbent Stephen Douglas in a series of seven public debates across Illinois for a seat in the U.S. Senate. During these verbal battles, many topics were discussed, but the main issue of debate was slavery. Lincoln argued vehemently for the equality of human rights; Douglass supported the Dred Scott Decision, a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that declared that no slave or descendant of a slave could be a U.S. citizen, have constitutional rights, or sue in Federal Court.
Following these seven debates, Douglas won re-election to the Senate by a large margin. However, his victory came with a great price. Many extremists in the South turned against the Senator after learning that during the debates with Lincoln in Illinois he stated that new territories of the United States need not have slavery despite the Dred Scott Decision. This factor, along with Lincoln’s rapid rise of popularity in the North following the debates, helped to get the tall contender elected as U.S. President in 1860.
Like Lincoln, during his prime George Washington was enormously strong and a fantastic wrestler. The General also had stupendous physical endurance, and it was said that he could outlast perhaps anybody on foot. Public domain image.
During the midst of debates with Senator Douglass, a gentleman by the name of James Grant Wilson had been introduced to Lincoln in Springfield by Judge Treat, one his father’s friends. This introduction led to a rather interesting conversation between the Judge and Lincoln. Judge Treat informed his tall acquaintance that George Washington Parke Custis, George Washington’s step grandson, had recently told him during a recent visit to Arlington, Virginia that the first U.S. President may have been the strongest man of his generation. And, after hearing that Washington had never been thrown during a wrestling match, Lincoln had this to say to the Judge:
“It is a rather curious thing, my young friend, but that is exactly my record. I could outlift any man in Southern Illinois when I was young, and I was never thrown. There was a big fellow named Jack Armstrong, strong as a Russian bear, that I could not put down; nor could he get me on the ground. If George was loafing around here now, I should be glad to have a tussle with him, and I rather believe that one of the plain people of Illinois would be able to manage the aristocrat of old Virginia.”
I should point out that Lincoln considered himself as one of the “plain people,” an opinion he was very proud to hold. Honest Abe once stated, “I think the Lord must love the plain people; he has made so many of them.”