[Civil War]. Abraham Lincoln Autograph Document Signed "A. Lincoln." One card, 3.25" x 2", [Washington, D.C.], February 17, 1865. This unusual pass allows Mrs. J. F. Dougherty to stay in New Jersey "so long as she does not misbehave." President Lincoln writes in full: "Allow Mrs. J. F. Dougherty of Clay County, Mo. to remain in New Jersey so long as she does not misbehave." A family of Doughertys lived in Clay County, Missouri, including a prominent slave owner named John Dougherty (1791-1861). Mrs. J. F. Dougherty was likely married to one of his relatives. This document exhibits some small stains, one affecting "Lincoln." Still, the signature and all text are very legible and written in Lincoln's distinctive bold ink.

    February 17, 1865, was an important day in Lincoln's life: on this day he signed the military commission appointing his eldest son, Robert, a captain in the army. He also spent much of his day considering those charged with various war crimes (such as the case of John Y. Beall, who had received a death sentence for violating the rules of war). By this time, the outcome of the Civil War looked favorable, though the war would continue for two more months when General Lee surrendered his Confederate army. The president also had only two months until John Booth would kill him.

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    Earlier Lincoln scholars believed Mrs. J. F. Dougherty to be a prostitute whose avocation was spying for the Union. In an article in the quarterly Manuscripts (fall 1975), which is included with the document, Dr. William R. Coleman relates how he discovered that Mrs. Dougherty was more likely the widow of John Kerr Dougherty and  had asked President Lincoln for a pass to New Jersey to search for his body.

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    April, 2014
    3rd Thursday
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