Conduct of the War: Moving Chickens
“During summer 1862 a delegation complained about the conduct of the war in the West:] He rose from his chair and said, ‘Judge List, this reminds me of an anecdote which I heard a son of yours tell in Burlington in Iowa. He was trying to enforce upon his hearers the truth of the old adage that three moves is worse than a fire. As an illustration he gave an account of a family who started from Western Pennsylvania, pretty well off in this world’s goods when they started. But they moved and moved, having less and less every time they moved, till after a while they could carry every thing in one wagon. He said that the chickens of the family got so used to being moved, that whenever they saw the wagon sheets brought out they laid themselves on their backs and crossed their legs, ready to be tied. Now, gentlemen, if I were to listen to every committee that comes in at that door, I had just as well cross my hands and let you tie me.”
Joshua Fry Speed, in Allen Thorndike Rice, Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln, p. 30.