Editor's note: The following story is an excerpt from "The Wit & Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln ..." by James C. Humes.
Lincoln once represented a client indicted for assault and battery. Lincoln argued that it was self-defense. Lincoln told the jury that his client was in the plight of a man who, in going along the highway with a pitchfork over his shoulder, was attacked by a fierce dog that ran out at him from a farmer's dooryard. He warded off the beast with his pitchfork and one of its prongs pierced and killed it. In his summary to the jury, Lincoln recounted the exchange between the two men.
"What made you kill my dog?" said the cur's owner.
"What made him bite me?" replied the pitchforker.
"But why did you not go after him with the other end of the pitchfork?" asked the dead dog's master.
Lincoln's client answered, "And why did he not come at me with his other end?"
At this Mr. Lincoln got down on his knees, whirled, and pushed his rear end toward the jury box as its members laughed. An acquittal was the result.