Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    Lincoln launches an investigation to the War Department after sensing a potential injustice in drafting a woman's husband after he was previously rejected from serving in the military

    Abraham Lincoln Autograph Letter Signed Regarding an Investigation into the War Department. One page, 5" x 8", Executive Mansion, Washington; December 14, 1864. Written to Hon. Sec. of War Edwin Stanton on Executive Mansion stationery. On the upper edge of the letter is written in an unknown hand: "Case of Private William Richardson Co. F. 2nd D. C. Vols."

    Lincoln writes in full:

    "Dear Sir, I think a man who offers to volunteer, and is reject, should not afterwards [be] drafted and forced to serve. This lady alleges that such is the case of her husband. Please have the case investigated & reported on.

    Yours truly A. Lincoln."

    Below Lincoln's text is written in an unknown hand:

    "War dept. Report. Dec. 19/64 The solider, it appears was refused enlistment because he had a wife and family dependent on him, and not for any physical disqualification. He has recently been examined, & pronounced fit to serve, although his wife represented him to be physically unfit. Respectfully, To the President."

    Volunteering had almost halted during the winter of 1862-1863. One 3 March 1863, President Lincoln signed a new conscription act known as the Civil War Military Draft Act of 1862 which applied to all males between the ages of 20 to 45 for service instead of assigning quotas for each state.

    An extraordinary letter, exhibiting Lincoln's compassion for what he sees as an injustice in the wartime draft system for which he authorizes an investigation. The War Department report, written below Lincoln's request, clearly shows the information " The lady alleges" was not the complete story and the full facts were withheld to keep the husband at home.

    Condition: Lightly rubbed and toned with some minor soiling that does not affect the text. Boldly signed.

    Auction Info

    Bidding Begins Approx.
    30th Friday
    Auction Dates
    19th Wednesday
    Proxy Bidding Begins Approx.
    10 Days
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: N/A
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 177
    Auction Type
    Signature®:  Heritage Live®:After Internet bidding closes, live bidding will take place through Your secret maximum bid placed prior to the live event will compete against the live bids. To maximize your chances of winning, enter realistic secret maximum bids on our site. Many of our proxy bidders are successful at winning lots in these auctions, and usually below their secret maximum. You can also place last minute bids directly with us by e-mailing or calling 1-866-835-3243. (Important note: Due to software and Internet latency, live bids may not register in time, so enter realistic proxy bids.)

    Signature® Floor Sessions
    Proxy bidding ends ten minutes prior to the session start time. Live Proxy bidding on Heritage Live starts 7 days before the live session begins and continues through the session. During the live auction event, bidding in person is encouraged, and Heritage Live includes streaming audio and often video during the event.
    Track Item