The author of Lincoln's Battle makes this claim: source

And Lincoln’s mother was the best wrestler in Kentucky. I have a quote in the book from a judge who says, “Oh yeah, I got my butt whooped years ago by Mrs. Lincoln.”

The author even seems somewhat skeptical of this assertion. Any validity to this claim?

  • 2
    As a side note, having your "butt whooped" doesn't necessarily mean you got in a fight or wrestling match. It could be a metaphor for being bossed around by Mrs. Lincoln or it could have the more literal meaning of being spanked as a child by Mrs. Lincoln, which wouldn't be that unlikely given the time period we are talking about.
    – Kevin
    Nov 9, 2016 at 22:28
  • 1
    @KevinWells In a section of an article that deals exclusively with the claim as presented, corporal punishment and your other explanations make literally no sense. That's why we post the source of the claim.
    – user36356
    Nov 9, 2016 at 22:39
  • 1
    If that were definitely the context for the quote I would agree with you, but the source that you linked doesn't give sufficient context for the judge's quote to rule out the other interpretations
    – Kevin
    Nov 9, 2016 at 23:48
  • 2
    You are both arguing that the source's evidence is insufficient for a skeptic to accept the claim. Let's move on.
    – Oddthinking
    Nov 10, 2016 at 1:58
  • 1
    Were phrases "oh yeah" and "butt whooped" even in circulation back in the early 19th century? Nov 11, 2016 at 15:28

1 Answer 1


The claim in the OP is paraphrasing a historic source.

Usher Ferguson Linder wrote, in Reminiscences of the Early Bench and Bar of Illinois (1876):

His mother, whose maiden name was Nancy Hanks, was said to be a very strong-minded woman, one of the most athletic women in Kentucky. In a fair wrestle, she could throw most of the men who ever put her powers to the test. A reliable gentleman told me he heard the late Jack Thomas, clerk of the Grayson Court, say he had frequently wrestled with her, and she invariably laid him on his back.


You must log in to answer this question.