Alexander McClure (1828–1909) was a journalist, politician, and close friend of Abraham Lincoln. McClure was born in Sherman’s Valley, Pennsylvania. He served his home state in many leadership roles throughout his years, which led to the town of McClure, Pennsylvania being named in his honor. Active in Pennsylvania Republican Party politics, McClure was an abolitionist and editor of the Franklin Repository. McClure’s close ties with Lincoln enabled him to write Lincoln’s Yarns and Stories: A Complete Collection of the Funny and Witty Anecdotes That Made Abraham Lincoln Famous as America’s Greatest Story Teller (1900), which celebrates Lincoln’s penchant for humor and wit in storytelling.
Lincoln is justly celebrated for the beauty and power of his eloquence, but he was also well known for his humorous stories, tall tales, and colorful jokes. As a backwoods attorney, he had often used jokes and stories to gain the good will of juries. Now as president, his story-telling and joke-making served to deflect unwanted questions, explain policies, and relieve his own spirits and those of his listeners.