Near 10 years after the death of Daniel Webster, President Lincoln shared a story of Webster’s early life during a morning gathering at the White House in May of 1862.
“Did you ever hear the story of Daniel Webster and the schoolmaster?” Lincoln began.
He then shared how as a boy, Webster had been repeatedly punished by his teacher for coming to school with dirty hands. One day the teacher asked to look at them. As Daniel went forward he surreptitiously licked one palm, wiped it on his pants, then exhibited it. “Daniel,” said the teacher sternly, “if you will find another hand in this schoolroom as filthy as that, I will let you off this time.” The quick-witted Daniel promptly held out his other hand. “That will do,” sighed the teacher. “You may take your seat.”
Having concluded, Lincoln laughed as loud as any of his hearers.
From The Inner Life of Abraham Lincoln: Six Months at the White House by Francis B. Carpenter, (New York, 1867).