Mr. Lincoln and Mrs. Partington

by Dr. James M. Cornelius

Was Abraham Lincoln a rube or a well-read man? His brief meeting with one of England’s wealthiest and oldest aristocrats casts an interesting light upon this debate. The young Marquis of Hartington, heir to the Duke of Devonshire and representing a cotton-manufacturing district, held a junior post in Lord Palmerston’s Cabinet in 1861-1862. Like so many well-off Britons of his day, he felt it time to learn about the sister-nation and arranged a visit to the White House. When the privately educated, sensitive, and aloof lord was introduced to the president, the poor boy from Kentucky blurted out, “Hartington? That rhymes with Partington!”

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