Old Abraham, The Splitter

Old Abe’s an honest, able man,
Non abler, truer, fitter
For President; but Fate ordained
That he should be a splitter!
When he was young – ‘tis said that he
Began his occupation
By splitting rails, out in the west
Of the great Yankee nation.
And when a man – so snarlers tell –
And law was his employment,
Then chopping logic, splitting hairs
He made his great enjoyment.
And still, when’er you to him go,
A “jawing” or “a chaffing,”
He’ll crack a joke, or tell a tale,
And you will split with laughing!
But now the greatest rent of all
Has made the nations wonder,
For when they made him president
It splitthe States asunder!
And this was how it came about
(True to his nature ever)
He told the people he’d begin
The Negro’s chains to sever!
But splitting rails is honest work,
And splitting hairs is – clever,
And laughter’s healthy – doctors say –
So – Honest Abe for ever!
And North and South , when all are free
Will yet unite (you titter),
But when they do they both will praise
Old Abraham, the Splitter.

Title:Old Abraham, the Splitter

Author:A Joker

Publication:The Blackburn Times

Published in:Blackburn

Date:October 29, 1864

Keywords:america, comic, slavery, war


This humorous poem is divided into eight quatrain stanzas with rhymes linking just the second and fourth lines, though these are all ‘feminine’ rhymes of more than one syllable with the last syllable unstressed. This last fact allows this to sound a little like a ballad in form with the metre being iambic and the line lengths being fairly consistently eight and seven syllables alternated.

The poem mocks Lincoln and lists various ways in which he might have been said to have been a ‘splitter’ both figuratively and literally, but it is overwhelmingly sympathetic to that politician’s cause despite highlighting his central role in the American Civil War and its division of the nation. It also ends with an assurance relating to the reunification of America which by the time this poem was published (October 1864) was all but a foregone conclusion.

- SR.