This story was about a man who hoped to become county judge, and hired a horse and buggy from his neighbor, a liveryman, in order to drive to the nominating convention held in a town some sixteen miles away. He asked the livery-stable keeper to give him the best and fastest horse he had, explaining that he was anxious to get there early and do a little log-rolling before the meeting opened. His neighbor, being of opposing politics, had other views, and furnished him with a beast which, though starting out very well, broke down utterly. Long before he reached his destination the convention had adjourned, and of course he lost the nomination. Even with its head turned toward home the poor horse could not hurry. It was late the following afternoon before they pulled up in front of the stable. The candidate’s anger had had time to cool, and feeling the uselessness of recrimination, he handed the reins over to his neighbor, only remarking: “Jones, I see you are training this horse for the New York market. I know you expect to sell him for a good price to an undertaker for a hearse-horse.” In vain the owner protested. “Don’t deny it,” said the would-be judge. “I know it is true. I know by his gait how much time you have spent training him to go before a hearse. But it is all labor lost, my friend. He will never do. He is altogether too slow. He couldn’t get a corpse to the cemetery in time for the resurrection!”
Helen Nicolay, Personal Traits of Abraham Lincoln, p. 30.