Abraham Lincoln, in response to a request for a "sentiment and an autograph":
Dear Madam: When you ask from a stranger that which is of interest only to yourself, always enclose a stamp. There's your sentiment, and here's your autograph. A. Lincoln
A ranking man in the post office, who was a personal friend of Lincoln's, died. A job applicant immediately asked the president if he could take his place.
“Well,” replied Lincoln. “It’s all right with me if it’s alright with the undertaker.”
During the Civil War, Edmund Stanton, the Secretary of War, told Lincoln of reports from the field that General Grant was boozing in his tent.
“Find out what kind of whiskey he is drinking.”
“Why is that, Mr. President?”
“Because I want to send a case of it to my other generals.”
And one of my favourites, of Lincoln meeting with his Cabinet:
Lincoln asked his Cabinet to vote on whether he should go through with delivering the Emancipation Proclamation. The Secretary of State stood and said “Nay,” then the Secretary of Interior followed, and then all of the rest. Each had clearly voted against delivering the Proclamation. After hearing each of them, Lincoln stood and said “The Ayes have it.”
Lincoln in his late 30s – photo taken by one of Lincoln's law students around 1846