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    [Lincoln Assassination] Unusual Manuscript Collection comprising the following: Benn Pitman (official stenographer at the trial of Booth's co-conspirators), Autograph Letter Signed, three pages, 7.75" x 10", on War Department letterhead, 23 June 1865, to Rev. Phineas D. Gurley (the Lincolns' Washington pastor) suggesting that he spearhead an effort to gather "for deposit at Ford's Theatre, the terrible but interesting . . . exhibits in the trial of the assassins" including Booth's hat and "the ball that pierced the brain of the President. . . . The person who found Booth's hat has made an informal application for it, stating that Barnham [sic; P.T. Barnum] of N.Y. had offered him $1500 for it. One object I have in view . . . [for] these national relics is to prevent . . . them getting into the hands of any vulgar, mercenary showman." He suggests a course of action, urging promptness since the military commission will close in a few days, but cautioning in a postscript: "You must not...ask for possession of these things till the findings and sentences are approved by the President." Toned with some separation along folds; fine.

    Wm. M. Stewart
    (prominent Nevada statesman), two typed letters signed, in all about five and one-half pages, 8" x 10.5", on U.S. Senate letterheads, 6 Jan. and 29 Feb. 1888, to fellow Senator John Conness, recalling their assassination-night experiences. Stewart describes how they, in company with Sen. Charles Sumner, first learned of the attacks on Seward and Lincoln and proceeded to the White House, where no such news had yet been received. While speaking to two soldiers there on guard duty "a messenger ran up and announced that Mr. Lincoln was shot. You remarked: 'This is a conspiracy . . . they will surely kill Stanton.' You then said to the soldiers . . . 'Go quick to Stanton's house'. . . . [T]here is no doubt but what you saved his life. He went to the door in answer to a ring of the bell and saw a man running away and the two soldiers that you sent approaching." At the Peterson house "I met one of the doctors . . . [who] told me that I could go in . . . if I insisted, but that every additional person exhausted the air and made it more difficult for the President to breathe. Mr. Sumner rushed past me while I was talking to the doctor and went in. I did not see where you went." Stewart further recalls being picked up, while standing near Willard's Hotel, by "Senator Foote, of Vermont . . . [who] told me that it was necessary to have the oath of office administered to Vice President Johnson, and asked me to go with him and get Chief Justice Chase for that purpose . . . [Chase] got into the hack with us. We then drove to the Kirkwood House and went to Johnson's rooms . . . waited for him to dress . . . and the Chief Justice administered the oath." Stewart concludes that Sumner's "capacity . . . to invent sensational stories was known and appreciated, but the fiction that gathers round his memory indicates that his power of misstatement is immortal." Usual folds, toned, and fine.

    Together with a typed copy of the recollections of Dr. George C. Maynard, a member of the Ford's Theatre audience (and cipher operator in the War Department telegraph office at the time), two and one-half pages, 8.5" x 11". His assassination recollections are rather typical, and doubtless colored by later reading, but he does say that Booth "slid down . . . to the stage, tearing down the flags" and "did not face the audience, nor brandish his knife . . . nor make any heroic speech. He acted like a man who was most anxious to get out of the building." Maynard also makes the rather startling assertion that a man "came out of the box saying 'Lincoln is shot' and holding up his fingers said 'there is a portion of his brain.'" He tells of encountering, the next morning, the procession that took Lincoln's body back to the White House: "The hearse was the only vehicle. . . . There was an entire absence of anything like display. . . . The morning was dark, rainy and gloomy. The spirit of the day was Death." Pages two and three are affixed at the top left. Mounting remnants on verso of page three. Fine.

    Together with a letter of L.W. (Mrs. Dr. George C.) Maynard, 1927, loaning her husband's original manuscript. Near fine.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2008
    20th Thursday
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