One of our best American storytellers was our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. At six feet, four inches in height, with an unruly mop of hair and gangly frame, he was well aware of his unhandsome appearance. In fact, he often told stories in which he turned the tables on folks who made fun of his looks by beating them to the punch.

He was also a master of impromptu speeches, such as the three-minute long Gettysburg Address that he composed aboard a train as he traveled to the battlefield. Its effect on his audience was magnified by its brevity.

If you were lucky enough to be in his company and hear him say, "Now that reminds me...," you may as well have relaxed to enjoy the tale that was coming.

Many of his stories were intended to convey a lesson. Newspaper reporters preserved his speeches, many of which were distilled to pointed quotes like this well-known one: "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool that to speak out and remove all doubt."

But Lincoln excelled at telling humorous, homespun stories that were only intended to entertain. This story, relayed by publisher James Wilson (1832-1914), is a fine example:

A Southern Illinois preacher stated that the Savior was the only perfect man who had ever lived. He also said that there was no record in the Bible or elsewhere of any perfect woman having lived on Earth.

In the back of the church, a persecuted looking person rose and said, "I know the perfect woman and I’ve heard about her every day for the past six years."

"Who is she?" asked the minister.

"My husband’s first wife," replied the afflicted woman.

Clearly, Lincoln was a man of many achievements. He was an attorney, a statesman, holder of the highest office in the land, and also a husband, father, farmer, and superb communicator. Based on reports from contemporaries, he was also a charming companion. I have to believe that, were he alive today, he would be a fun addition to any party.