Obama cracks Civil War joke at science event

Who says science can't be entertaining?

Not President Obama, who won laughter and applause Monday morning when he quipped that he wouldn't be where he is now without the advancements the National Academy of Science made during the Civil War.

Speaking at the academy to celebrate its 150th anniversary, the president noted that the NAS helped the Union military adjust its compasses for use aboard ironclad ships during the Civil War.

"So right off the bat, you guys were really useful," Obama said. "In fact, it’s fair to say we might not be here had you not --- certainly I would not be here."

The war ended slavery and preserved the Union.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.

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