Abraham Lincoln is known as one of the greatest presidents the young United States, and perhaps the world, has ever seen.
He had an aura of stoic elegance and wisdom. If you thought he was always the silent giant, you might be surprised to find out he nearly participated in a duel—until he intimidated his opponent out of it.
James Shields was an attorney and auditor for Illinois, the same state Lincoln was a state legislator for at the time.
Anonymous letters disparaging Shields and criticizing his work showed up in the Sangamo Journal of Springfield that were believed to be written by Lincoln's future wife, Mary Todd, or even Lincoln himself.
Shields hastily challenged Lincoln to a duel for his good name, even though duels had been banned since 1839.
Both parties met on September 22, 1842 where Lincoln got to choose the weapon (since he was the one challenged). He intelligently chose a broadsword due to his height and long reach.
The distinct advantage quickly became apparent and Shields backed down, apologizing the whole time. The two made peace and maintained a friendly relationship from that day forward.