Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum
April 14, 1865. Abraham Lincoln is shot."Don’t know the manners of good society, eh? Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal - you sockdologizing old mantrap!" Immediately after Harry Hawk delivered that line during the play, “Our American Cousin”, the assassin John Wilkes Booth pulled the trigger of his single shot pistol and shot President Abraham Lincoln as he sat in his Ford’s Theatre box with his wife Mary. April 14, 1865 would be a date forever etched into American History.
This pair of kid leather gloves, currently in our collection, were in Mr. Lincoln’s left pocket on that fateful night 149 years ago and became stained as blood dripped in the pocket. Due to the fragile state of these moving artifacts they are not on display, but housed safely in our vault.

Hear more about Mr. Lincoln’s gloves and his assassination in a past episode of our podcast here: http://bit.ly/SFTV-Podcast

April 14, 1865. Abraham Lincoln is shot.

"Don’t know the manners of good society, eh? Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal - you sockdologizing old mantrap!" Immediately after Harry Hawk delivered that line during the play, “Our American Cousin”, the assassin John Wilkes Booth pulled the trigger of his single shot pistol and shot President Abraham Lincoln as he sat in his Ford’s Theatre box with his wife Mary. April 14, 1865 would be a date forever etched into American History.

This pair of kid leather gloves, currently in our collection, were in Mr. Lincoln’s left pocket on that fateful night 149 years ago and became stained as blood dripped in the pocket. Due to the fragile state of these moving artifacts they are not on display, but housed safely in our vault.

Hear more about Mr. Lincoln’s gloves and his assassination in a past episode of our podcast here: http://bit.ly/SFTV-Podcast

Sniffing Around for Abraham Lincoln’s Dog Fido

(A post from Dr. James Cornelius, the curator of the Abraham Lincoln Collection here at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum)

The well-known photographs of the Lincolns’ pet dog Fido have their own story, just as that poor dog did.  Like so much in the Lincoln field, the old story may not be true.

Spoiler anti-alert: There is nothing politically important in this minor discovery.  But people like dogs — the Lincolns liked dogs — so let us put our noses down and follow the trail.

'Everyone says' that because Fido could not join the family for the exciting and loud train ride to Washington, D.C., in 1861, Willie and Tad took along a photo of him instead; or perhaps all three, as seen here.  But I cannot find this story printed any earlier than a 15 February 1954 Life magazine article by Dorothy Meserve Kunhardt.  The great myth-maker Carl Sandburg, who loved a shaggy dog story, does not mention Fido in his 6 volumes on Lincoln (1926-39).

image

Nowadays, lots of people recall the outline of Mrs. Kunhardt’s lively write-up about Fido and the neighbor, John E. Roll, who inherited him when the Lincolns left town.  She had recently met the son John L. Roll, age 90, who told her the story.  She admitted he was aged, and he admitted that his memory was fading.  But she was a skillful writer who determined to enliven one of the many photos in the great Meserve / Kunhardt horde of photos.

The story: that Willie and Tad, perhaps with adult help, took Fido to Mr. F.W. Ingmire’s photographic studio in late 1860 or early 1861 for these three snaps — then left their beloved mutt with the Roll boys, till they returned to Springfield some day.

Thanks to the pioneering work in Dick Hart’s book “Springfield, Illinois’ Nineteenth-Century Photographers” (2005), we can check all of the known backmarks on Ingmire cdv’s over his many years at work.  (If you do not already have a copy of Hart’s book, you probably must find one in a library; he printed only a few, and mostly gave them away.)  More recently, thanks to the digitized editions of both Springfield newspapers, the Register and the Journal, we can also hunt for ads.  Census records and city directories help, too. 

And guess what?  In 1860-61 Rev. Ingmire was working as a Baptist minister and a sewing-machine agent.  He ran dozens of ads in those years for his agency.  He began to pay for a photographer’s license ($10.00 during wartime) in 1862.  And he first ran an ad for that new business in October 1864, when lots of soldiers passing through Camp Butler made it a profitable trade.

Although these facts do not prove that Ingmire did not snap Fido in 1860 / 1861, it seems to make it very unlikely.  The ‘matched set’ of 4 photos that Ingmire sold — with identical backmarks, dated in the Hart book to 1865-66 — includes Fido, Old Bob, Lincoln’s Home, and the hillside (2nd) tomb at Oak Ridge Cemetery.  True, 2 of those could have been taken earlier, but Old Bob was held by two mournful grooms, Rev. Wm. Trevan and Rev. Henry Brown, only when the Lincoln Home was draped in black, at funeral time, 4 May 1865.

image

I speculate that Ingmire saw a commercial opportunity after Lincoln’s death and quickly took those photos.  The font on the labels is identical on the four.  So is the design of the backmark.  We can forgive John Roll in forgetting by 1953 whether his long-ago dog got a picture in 1861 or 1865.

Here is the kicker: If the Lincoln boys had a Fido photo in the White House, why does it not have an 1860-61 backmark?  In fact, their one surviving copy today (middle, chin up) is identical to the 1865 images, in backmark and label.   If someone took it for them in 1861, why would it have needed a label ‘President Lincoln’s Dog’?   The family’s photo album is today in the ALPLM, along with about half of the photos that it once held.  The other half, including the Fido photo the Lincolns owned, belong to the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection, in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  All evidence points to its creation in 1865.  Okay, maybe Willie or Tad lost 1, 2, or 3 originals, and the album got refilled with 1 after 1865.  That is rangy guesswork.  The physical evidence is that every image of Fido we have seen at ALPLM bears the late-Ingmire backmark. 

Susan Haake, curator at the Lincoln Home, points out that the non-descript gray background in the Fido photos does more or less match the background seen in Willie and Tad photos from Springfield in late 1860.  This is a fair point.  But many studios then used only a gray background, and there is no evidence that Ingmire took those boy photos, or any others, that year.

In 1893, John Roll became an entrepreneur, too: he copyrighted his old 1865 photo (Ingmire was dead) and had it enlarged by a local man named Pietz, possibly to sell at Chicago’s Columbian Exposition.

The Kunhardt story soon got legs.  Ruth Painter Randall’s 1952 full biography of Mary Lincoln does not mention Fido.  But her 1955 book “Lincoln’s Sons" does (p. 85), repeating Kunhardt’s speculative 1954 tale about the photo.  Oddly, RPR’s 1958 book "Lincoln’s Animal Friends" omits the photo story, though Fido’s life is lovingly described over a few pages.  Since then, every writer seems to have cribbed from the 1954-55 tales of one woman or the other.

I mentioned the “poor dog” Fido.  Aficionados know that he was killed by a drunk man in 1866.  A forthcoming book by Matthew Algeo about Lincoln’s wide-ranging contact with animals will give new details of that episode, including the Rolls’ response.

For now, let us remember man’s best friend — how he ambled leash-free in Springfield, while he lived in the hearts of the Lincoln boys and adults in Washington, D.C.  The costliness of any of the three Fido photos on the market today is evidence that a lot of other people have a heart for him, too.

Please write to me if you know if Roll’s Fido story was written down before 1954; or if you know of physical evidence that Ingmire had a studio before 1862.

My thanks to Mark Johnson, Susan Haake, and Dick Hart for their input, and to Jane Gastineau in Fort Wayne.

Mystery of a Censored Abraham Lincoln Letter SolvedThe note is scrawled in Abraham Lincoln’s distinctive hand and carries his signature, but little else is clear. When was it written and to whom? What are the views that Lincoln wants to know more about? And, above all, why was a key name cut out of the note?
Historians at the Papers of Abraham Lincoln believe they’ve solved the riddle of this new Lincoln document. It was a note asking one of Lincoln’s allies to maintain a secret relationship with a notorious political insider during the election of 1860.
Manuscript dealer David Lowenherz of Lion Heart Autographs, Inc., in New York City recently contacted the Papers of Abraham Lincoln about the document, which says: 
 
My dear Sir,
I thank you for the copy of [clipped section] If you can keep up a correspondence with him without much effort, it will be well enough. I like to know his views occasionally.
Yours in haste
                                                                        A Lincoln
 
Learning more about the note required a close look at its language. The most distinct phrase is “keep up a correspondence.” A quick search of the database created by the Papers of Abraham Lincoln yielded a handful of documents with this phrase, not all written by Abraham Lincoln. One was from fellow attorney and Republican Leonard Swett of Bloomington, Ill.
Swett shared the details of a letter he had gotten from “our friend T W of Albany.” Swett ended by telling Lincoln, “I shall answer the above soon, and if you approve, try to keep up a correspondence during the Campaign.  It may be questionable propriety sending this to you yet I can see no harm in it. I would how ever request you not to show it.” 
“T W of Albany” refers to Thurlow Weed, the Republican newspaper editor and political boss of New York state. Less than a month earlier, Lincoln had won the Republican presidential nomination, stunning Weed’s candidate, front-runner William H. Seward.
Lincoln wanted – and ultimately got – Weed’s support in New York (and Seward got the job of secretary of state under Lincoln). But Lincoln couldn’t afford to be seen as close to Weed during the presidential campaign. Swett solved the problem by offering to play intermediary to the East Coast insider, letting Lincoln receive political intelligence from the critical state of New York without having an open correspondence with Weed.
This political intrigue likely explains why Swett referred to Weed as “T W” and clipped Weed’s name from Lincoln’s letter. 
The phrase “keep up a correspondence” was the key to linking these two letters and providing the approximate date, recipient, and subject of Lincoln’s note. It likely was written in the third week of June 1860 in response to Swett’s letter of June 13. Lincoln’s reply merely echoed Swett’s phrase about corresponding with Weed. 
Why was Lincoln “in haste”? A quick review of The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln (www.thelincolnlog.org), also maintained and updated by the Papers of Abraham Lincoln, provides the answer. In the third week of June 1860, Lincoln received hundreds of visitors at his temporary office in the Illinois State Capitol and thousands of pieces of mail providing advice and asking for jobs and favors.
That Lincoln took the time, even “in haste,” to respond to Swett’s letter suggests the importance he placed on Weed’s political news from New York. 
“This linkage once again demonstrates the value of the careful work of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln,” director Daniel W. Stowell said. “To be able to identify the date, recipient and subject of such a brief letter is a remarkable achievement.”
“It was only through the active, generous and committed efforts of the editors at the Papers of Abraham Lincoln that the mysteries of this unpublished Abraham Lincoln letter were solved,” said David Lowenherz, president of Lion Heart Autographs.  “Without their assistance, my research would have wound up at a dead end.”
The Papers of Abraham Lincoln is a long-term documentary editing project dedicated to identifying, transcribing and publishing all documents written by or to Abraham Lincoln during his lifetime. The project is administered through the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, a division of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, and is cosponsored by the Center for State Policy and Leadership at the University of Illinois Springfield and by the Abraham Lincoln Association.

Mystery of a Censored Abraham Lincoln Letter Solved

The note is scrawled in Abraham Lincoln’s distinctive hand and carries his signature, but little else is clear. When was it written and to whom? What are the views that Lincoln wants to know more about? And, above all, why was a key name cut out of the note?

Historians at the Papers of Abraham Lincoln believe they’ve solved the riddle of this new Lincoln document. It was a note asking one of Lincoln’s allies to maintain a secret relationship with a notorious political insider during the election of 1860.

Manuscript dealer David Lowenherz of Lion Heart Autographs, Inc., in New York City recently contacted the Papers of Abraham Lincoln about the document, which says:

 

My dear Sir,

I thank you for the copy of [clipped section] If you can keep up a correspondence with him without much effort, it will be well enough. I like to know his views occasionally.

Yours in haste

                                                                        A Lincoln

 

Learning more about the note required a close look at its language. The most distinct phrase is “keep up a correspondence.” A quick search of the database created by the Papers of Abraham Lincoln yielded a handful of documents with this phrase, not all written by Abraham Lincoln. One was from fellow attorney and Republican Leonard Swett of Bloomington, Ill.

Swett shared the details of a letter he had gotten from “our friend T W of Albany.” Swett ended by telling Lincoln, “I shall answer the above soon, and if you approve, try to keep up a correspondence during the Campaign.  It may be questionable propriety sending this to you yet I can see no harm in it. I would how ever request you not to show it.” 

“T W of Albany” refers to Thurlow Weed, the Republican newspaper editor and political boss of New York state. Less than a month earlier, Lincoln had won the Republican presidential nomination, stunning Weed’s candidate, front-runner William H. Seward.

Lincoln wanted – and ultimately got – Weed’s support in New York (and Seward got the job of secretary of state under Lincoln). But Lincoln couldn’t afford to be seen as close to Weed during the presidential campaign. Swett solved the problem by offering to play intermediary to the East Coast insider, letting Lincoln receive political intelligence from the critical state of New York without having an open correspondence with Weed.

This political intrigue likely explains why Swett referred to Weed as “T W” and clipped Weed’s name from Lincoln’s letter. 

The phrase “keep up a correspondence” was the key to linking these two letters and providing the approximate date, recipient, and subject of Lincoln’s note. It likely was written in the third week of June 1860 in response to Swett’s letter of June 13. Lincoln’s reply merely echoed Swett’s phrase about corresponding with Weed. 

Why was Lincoln “in haste”? A quick review of The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln (www.thelincolnlog.org), also maintained and updated by the Papers of Abraham Lincoln, provides the answer. In the third week of June 1860, Lincoln received hundreds of visitors at his temporary office in the Illinois State Capitol and thousands of pieces of mail providing advice and asking for jobs and favors.

That Lincoln took the time, even “in haste,” to respond to Swett’s letter suggests the importance he placed on Weed’s political news from New York. 

“This linkage once again demonstrates the value of the careful work of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln,” director Daniel W. Stowell said. “To be able to identify the date, recipient and subject of such a brief letter is a remarkable achievement.”

“It was only through the active, generous and committed efforts of the editors at the Papers of Abraham Lincoln that the mysteries of this unpublished Abraham Lincoln letter were solved,” said David Lowenherz, president of Lion Heart Autographs.  “Without their assistance, my research would have wound up at a dead end.”

The Papers of Abraham Lincoln is a long-term documentary editing project dedicated to identifying, transcribing and publishing all documents written by or to Abraham Lincoln during his lifetime. The project is administered through the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, a division of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, and is cosponsored by the Center for State Policy and Leadership at the University of Illinois Springfield and by the Abraham Lincoln Association.


Abraham Lincoln Meets General Ulysses S. Grant for the First TimeMarch 8, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln and General Ulysses S. Grant meet face to face for the first time. The meeting took place the evening before the president officially presented Grant with his commission as Lieutenant General.John Nicolay, one of the President’s secretaries wrote of the meeting, “The President here made an appointment with him for the formal presentation next day of his commission as lieutenant-general. `I shall make a very short speech to you,’ said Lincoln, `to which I desire you to reply, for an object; and that you may be properly prepared to do so I have written what I shall say, only four sentences in all, which I will read from my manuscript as an example which you may follow and also read your reply—-as you are perhaps not so much accustomed to public speaking as I am; and I therefore give you what I shall say so that you may consider it. There are two points that I would like to have you make in your answer: First, to say something which shall prevent or obviate any jealousy of you from any of the other generals in the service; and second, something which shall put you on as good terms as possible with the Army of the Potomac. If you see any objection to doing this, be under no restraint whatever in expressing that objection to the Secretary of War.’ ”

Abraham Lincoln Meets General Ulysses S. Grant for the First Time

March 8, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln and General Ulysses S. Grant meet face to face for the first time. The meeting took place the evening before the president officially presented Grant with his commission as Lieutenant General.

John Nicolay, one of the President’s secretaries wrote of the meeting, “The President here made an appointment with him for the formal presentation next day of his commission as lieutenant-general. `I shall make a very short speech to you,’ said Lincoln, `to which I desire you to reply, for an object; and that you may be properly prepared to do so I have written what I shall say, only four sentences in all, which I will read from my manuscript as an example which you may follow and also read your reply—-as you are perhaps not so much accustomed to public speaking as I am; and I therefore give you what I shall say so that you may consider it. There are two points that I would like to have you make in your answer: First, to say something which shall prevent or obviate any jealousy of you from any of the other generals in the service; and second, something which shall put you on as good terms as possible with the Army of the Potomac. If you see any objection to doing this, be under no restraint whatever in expressing that objection to the Secretary of War.’ ”

Abraham Lincoln’s Liquor LicenseOn March 6, 1833, Abraham Lincoln and William Berry were issued a license to keep a tavern in their store in New Salem, IL for one year. Lincoln and Berry paid seven dollars for the license which allowed them to serve 1/2 pint of wine or French brandy for 25¢ and 1/2 pint of rum, peach brandy or Holland Gin for 18¾¢. In addition, the license allowed them to serve food and offer lodging. Unfortunately, the store did not last very long and Abraham Lincoln sold his interest in April of 1833 and became postmaster of New Salem on May 7, 1833.Of note is that Abraham Lincoln didn’t actually sign the above document. It is likely that William Berry signed for Mr. Lincoln. You will also see their friend John Bowling Green’s signature on the document.

Abraham Lincoln’s Liquor License

On March 6, 1833, Abraham Lincoln and William Berry were issued a license to keep a tavern in their store in New Salem, IL for one year. Lincoln and Berry paid seven dollars for the license which allowed them to serve 1/2 pint of wine or French brandy for 25¢ and 1/2 pint of rum, peach brandy or Holland Gin for 18¾¢. In addition, the license allowed them to serve food and offer lodging. Unfortunately, the store did not last very long and Abraham Lincoln sold his interest in April of 1833 and became postmaster of New Salem on May 7, 1833.

Of note is that 
Abraham Lincoln didn’t actually sign the above document. It is likely that William Berry signed for Mr. Lincoln. You will also see their friend John Bowling Green’s signature on the document.

Abraham Lincoln in Robert E. Lee’s Home?

(A post from Ian Hunt, historian for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation)

History, like any other course of endeavor, usually involves some cooperation.  It is not at all uncommon to contact a museum or historic site to inquire about an artifact or historical event and soon hear the familiar phrase, “While I have you on the phone …” So it occurred some months ago, when I contacted the National Park Service rangers at Arlington National Cemetery regarding Robert E. Lee’s activities at Arlington House on the eve of John Brown’s Raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859.  I was asked, in return, ‘Can you determine whether President Abraham Lincoln ever set foot in Arlington House’?

On the surface the answer seemed like an obvious ‘yes,’ given the stately home’s proximity to Washington, D.C., and its close connections with George Washington.  Mr. Lincoln had long admired the nation’s first President, reading extensively on the great hero, including both the Parson Weems biography as a boy, and possibly, later, the Washington Irving biography.  And Lincoln, while serving his single term as a Congressman, even took the opportunity in 1848 (during a recess caused by the death of former President John Quincy Adams), to travel down the Potomac River to visit Washington’s fabled estate, Mount Vernon.

Arlington House was built (1802-1818) by George Washington’s adopted grandson George Washington Parke Custis just over the Potomac from Washington, D.C., as a memorial to his grandfather.  The home, with its soaring Doric-style columns and matching north and south wings connecting to the main house, was one of the earliest Greek-Revival mansions in America.  It was filled with papers, paintings, and other memorabilia related to the nation’s first family, which Custis dubbed his “Washington Treasury.”  Mr. Custis delighted in entertaining friends and guests and offering stories of having grown up at Mount Vernon.  He was known to hold parties on the lawn at Arlington under the canopy of a tent used by General Washington and his staff during the Revolutionary War.

image                  Did Lincoln linger here?   Source: A/V Collection, ALPLM

After the death of Mr. Custis in 1857, the mansion and its possessions passed to his daughter Mary.  She and Lt. Robert E. Lee were married in the home in 1831 and spent a great deal of their lives together there; she remained its owner.  As Col. Lee, he resigned his commission from the U.S. Army on April 20, 1861 (rebels had begun to fire on Fort Sumter 8 days earlier), and quickly headed south to Richmond, leaving Mary at Arlington.  For about a month she packed up much of the home’s goods, then departed herself on May 15.  Nine days later, on May 24, 1861 — one day after Virginia voted to secede from the Union — Federal troops began crossing the “Long Bridge” over the Potomac to occupy the Virginia ground known as Arlington Heights.  The house, given its position upon those bluffs, its expansive grounds, and its sweeping views of Washington, D.C., became an obvious rallying point.  Within days it was completely surrounded by Union troops. 

Its connections to the historic families of Washington, Custis, and Lee immediately made it a source of interest to hundreds of people both in and out of uniform who traveled to visit the newly occupied property.  Several of the visitors of whom we know had very close ties to the White House: on May 31, 1861, the president’s eldest son Robert and two private secretaries John Nicolay and John Hay all obtained passes to cross the bridge and visit the mansion.  Mrs. Lincoln was known to deliver care packages to troops encamped on the Virginia side of the Potomac, and we knew that the President himself had visited troops in the area.  But had he actually visited the home itself?

After several days of research, we found the story buried on the third page, second column, of the June 18, 1861 Washington Evening Star.  It reported on a formal presentation of linen havelocks (strips of cloth that attach to a soldier’s cap to help protect his head and neck from the elements) to three companies of the U.S. Second Cavalry.  We were aware that Lincoln had witnessed this presentation, because it had been reported in other sources, including the New York Times and New York Daily Tribune — but none of them had specified the location of the ceremony.  I had assumed that it had occurred in Washington.  The Evening Star, however, reported that “the presentation was made at the Arlington House, and the ceremony was honored by the presence of President Lincoln, Secretaries Chase and Cameron, and General McDowell and Staff.”  Though only a small footnote in history, this fascinating story tells us that one of our country’s most famous leaders did walk the halls of one of America’s most famous houses.

imageThe full (newly discovered) newspaper story. Source: Library of Congress, Chronicling America

Thanks to Park Ranger Matt Penrod of the National Park Service.

"Girl, I would save the Union for you!" 

"Girl, I would save the Union for you!" 

Nothing Beats a Hand Drawn Valentine
Susan Lawrence Dana (1862-1946) was a socialite, activist, and philanthropist from Springfield, IL. Most famously, she is known for commissioning architect Frank Lloyd Wright to remodel her Springfield home in 1902. However, in 1889, Susan made this hand drawn valentine for her then husband, Edwin Dana. This image is one of several pages in the hand bound valentine Susan made that also included this poem:
He sent me a valentine one day at school
Addressed to “My Little Pearl”
And great black words on the inside said
“For the darlingest little girl”
I was glad oh yes, yet the crimson blood
To my young cheek came and went
And my heart thumped wonderously pit-pat
But I dident know what it meant.
One night he said
I must jump on his sled,
For the snow was falling fast.
I was half afraid,
But he coaxed and coaxed
And got me on at last,
Laughing and chatting
In merry glee, 
Down the hill
Like the wind we went,
My sisters looked
At each other and smiled
But I dident know what it meant.
Ten years passed on they touched his eyes
With a shadow of deeper blue,
They gave to his form a manlier grace
To his cheek a swarthier hue,
Down by the dreamy rippling brook
When the day was almost spent,
His whispers were sweet as words could be
And now I knew what it meant.


Image and Poem courtesy of the Manuscripts Collection here at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Nothing Beats a Hand Drawn Valentine

Susan Lawrence Dana (1862-1946) was a socialite, activist, and philanthropist from Springfield, IL. Most famously, she is known for commissioning architect Frank Lloyd Wright to remodel her Springfield home in 1902. However, in 1889, Susan made this hand drawn valentine for her then husband, Edwin Dana. This image is one of several pages in the hand bound valentine Susan made that also included this poem:

He sent me a valentine one day at school

Addressed to “My Little Pearl”

And great black words on the inside said

“For the darlingest little girl”

I was glad oh yes, yet the crimson blood

To my young cheek came and went

And my heart thumped wonderously pit-pat

But I dident know what it meant.

One night he said

I must jump on his sled,

For the snow was falling fast.

I was half afraid,

But he coaxed and coaxed

And got me on at last,

Laughing and chatting

In merry glee,

Down the hill

Like the wind we went,

My sisters looked

At each other and smiled

But I dident know what it meant.

Ten years passed on they touched his eyes

With a shadow of deeper blue,

They gave to his form a manlier grace

To his cheek a swarthier hue,

Down by the dreamy rippling brook

When the day was almost spent,

His whispers were sweet as words could be

And now I knew what it meant.

Image and Poem courtesy of the Manuscripts Collection here at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Abraham Lincoln Wrote a Brief Autobiography
(The photograph above was taken in Chicago, IL in October 1859 by Samuel Fassett. The image is courtesy of The Library of Congress.)
To celebrate the 205th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, we thought we would share an autobiography Mr. Lincoln wrote for businessman Jesse Fell in December of 1859. The autobiography was used for an article that would appear in the West Chester, Pennsylvania newspaper, the Chester County Times, on February 11, 1860. 
I was born Feb. 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky. My parents were both born in Virginia, of undistinguished families—-second families, perhaps I should say. My mother, who died in my tenth year, was of a family of the name of Hanks, some of whom now reside in Adams, and others in Macon counties, Illinois. My paternal grandfather, Abraham Lincoln, emigrated from Rockingham County, Virginia, to Kentucky, about 1781 or 2, where, a year or two later, he was killed by indians, not in battle, but by stealth, when [where?] he was laboring to open a farm in the forest. His ancestors, who were quakers, went to Virginia from Berks County, Pennsylvania. An effort to identify them with the New-England family of the same name ended in nothing more definite, than a similarity of Christian names in both families, such as Enoch, Levi, Mordecai, Solomon, Abraham, and the like.
My father, at the death of his father, was but six years of age; and he grew up, litterally without education. He removed from Kentucky to what is now Spencer county, Indiana, in my eighth year. We reached our new home about the time the State came into the Union. It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up. There were some schools, so called; but no qualification was ever required of a teacher, beyond “readin, writin, and cipherin,” to the Rule of Three. If a straggler supposed to understand latin, happened to so-journ in the neighborhood, he was looked upon as a wizzard. There was absolutely nothing to excite ambition for education. Of course when I came of age I did not know much. Still somehow, I could read, write, and cipher to the Rule of Three; but that was all. I have not been to school since. The little advance I now have upon this store of education, I have picked up from time to time under the pressure of necessity.
I was raised to farm work, which I continued till I was twenty two. At twenty one I came to Illinois, and passed the first year in Macon county. Then I got to New-Salem (at that time in Sangamon, now in Menard county, where I remained a year as a sort of Clerk in a store. Then came the Black-Hawk war; and I was elected a Captain of Volunteers—-a success which gave me more pleasure than any I have had since. I went the campaign, was elated, ran for the Legislature the same year (1832) and was beaten—-the only time I ever have been beaten by the people. The next, and three succeeding biennial elections, I was elected to the Legislature. I was not a candidate afterwards. During this Legislative period I had studied law, and removed to Springfield to practice it. In 1846 I was once elected to the lower House of Congress. Was not a candidate for re-election. From 1849 to 1854, both inclusive, practiced law more assiduously than ever before. Always a whig in politics, and generally on the whig electoral tickets, making active canvasses. I was losing interest in politics, when the repeal of the Missouri Compromise aroused me again. What I have done since then is pretty well known.

If any personal description of me is thought desirable, it may be said, I am, in height, six feet, four inches, nearly; lean in flesh, weighing, on an average, one hundred and eighty pounds; dark complexion, with coarse black hair, and grey eyes—-no other marks or brands recollected.

Abraham Lincoln Wrote a Brief Autobiography

(The photograph above was taken in Chicago, IL in October 1859 by Samuel Fassett. The image is courtesy of The Library of Congress.)

To celebrate the 205th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, we thought we would share an autobiography Mr. Lincoln wrote for businessman Jesse Fell in December of 1859. The autobiography was used for an article that would appear in the West Chester, Pennsylvania newspaper, the Chester County Timeson February 11, 1860. 

I was born Feb. 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky. My parents were both born in Virginia, of undistinguished families—-second families, perhaps I should say. My mother, who died in my tenth year, was of a family of the name of Hanks, some of whom now reside in Adams, and others in Macon counties, Illinois. My paternal grandfather, Abraham Lincoln, emigrated from Rockingham County, Virginia, to Kentucky, about 1781 or 2, where, a year or two later, he was killed by indians, not in battle, but by stealth, when [where?] he was laboring to open a farm in the forest. His ancestors, who were quakers, went to Virginia from Berks County, Pennsylvania. An effort to identify them with the New-England family of the same name ended in nothing more definite, than a similarity of Christian names in both families, such as Enoch, Levi, Mordecai, Solomon, Abraham, and the like.

My father, at the death of his father, was but six years of age; and he grew up, litterally without education. He removed from Kentucky to what is now Spencer county, Indiana, in my eighth year. We reached our new home about the time the State came into the Union. It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up. There were some schools, so called; but no qualification was ever required of a teacher, beyond “readin, writin, and cipherin,” to the Rule of Three. If a straggler supposed to understand latin, happened to so-journ in the neighborhood, he was looked upon as a wizzard. There was absolutely nothing to excite ambition for education. Of course when I came of age I did not know much. Still somehow, I could read, write, and cipher to the Rule of Three; but that was all. I have not been to school since. The little advance I now have upon this store of education, I have picked up from time to time under the pressure of necessity.

I was raised to farm work, which I continued till I was twenty two. At twenty one I came to Illinois, and passed the first year in Macon county. Then I got to New-Salem (at that time in Sangamon, now in Menard county, where I remained a year as a sort of Clerk in a store. Then came the Black-Hawk war; and I was elected a Captain of Volunteers—-a success which gave me more pleasure than any I have had since. I went the campaign, was elated, ran for the Legislature the same year (1832) and was beaten—-the only time I ever have been beaten by the people. The next, and three succeeding biennial elections, I was elected to the Legislature. I was not a candidate afterwards. During this Legislative period I had studied law, and removed to Springfield to practice it. In 1846 I was once elected to the lower House of Congress. Was not a candidate for re-election. From 1849 to 1854, both inclusive, practiced law more assiduously than ever before. Always a whig in politics, and generally on the whig electoral tickets, making active canvasses. I was losing interest in politics, when the repeal of the Missouri Compromise aroused me again. What I have done since then is pretty well known.

If any personal description of me is thought desirable, it may be said, I am, in height, six feet, four inches, nearly; lean in flesh, weighing, on an average, one hundred and eighty pounds; dark complexion, with coarse black hair, and grey eyes—-no other marks or brands recollected.

Abraham Lincoln says, “Thanks, but no thanks” for the Elephants
On February 3, 1862, Abraham Lincoln wrote to King Mongkut, the King of Siam, accepting, on behalf of the American people, gifts of “…a sword of costly materials and exquisite workmanship; a photographic likeness of Your Majesty and of Your Majesty’s beloved daughter; and also two elephants’ tusks of length and magnitude such as indicate that they could have belonged only to an animal which was a native of Siam.”President Lincoln also politely declined King Mongkut’s offer to send elephants to the U.S. to be used for transportation and as beasts of burden saying, “I appreciate most highly Your Majesty’s tender of good offices in forwarding to this Government a stock from which a supply of elephants might be raised on our own soil. This Government would not hesitate to avail itself of so generous an offer if the object were one which could be made practically useful in the present condition of the United States.”King Mongkut is possibly more well known for being portrayed as “The King” in the novel and film “Anna and the King,” in the 1940’s and the musical and film, “The King and I” in the 1950’s.

Abraham Lincoln says, “Thanks, but no thanks” for the Elephants

On February 3, 1862, Abraham Lincoln wrote to King Mongkut, the King of Siam, accepting, on behalf of the American people, gifts of “…a sword of costly materials and exquisite workmanship; a photographic likeness of Your Majesty and of Your Majesty’s beloved daughter; and also two elephants’ tusks of length and magnitude such as indicate that they could have belonged only to an animal which was a native of Siam.”

President Lincoln also politely declined King Mongkut’s offer to send elephants to the U.S. to be used for transportation and as beasts of burden saying, “I appreciate most highly Your Majesty’s tender of good offices in forwarding to this Government a stock from which a supply of elephants might be raised on our own soil. This Government would not hesitate to avail itself of so generous an offer if the object were one which could be made practically useful in the present condition of the United States.”

King Mongkut is possibly more well known for being portrayed as “The King” in the novel and film “Anna and the King,” in the 1940’s and the musical and film, “The King and I” in the 1950’s.