From Lincoln's second inaugural address
Abraham Lincoln Autograph Manuscript Signed, the Last Paragraph
of His Second Inaugural Address, Circa March
1865. Found on the second blank leaf of a 170 page autograph
book belonging to Linton J. Usher, the son of Lincoln's secretary
of the interior, John Palmer Usher, and comprised of thirteen lines
of text and signature, Lincoln writes the final passage of his
second inaugural address, words now immortalized on the memorial
dedicated to the sixteenth president, in full: "With malice
toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as
God fives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work
we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who
shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan - to
do all which may achieve, and cherish a just, and a lasting peace
among ourselves, and with all nations. [signed] Abraham
With seventy-four additional signatures and inscriptions (on forty-three pages) from Cabinet members, politicians, Supreme Court justices, military officers, authors, and other dignitaries and a further nine signatures found on letters and cards held loosely between the book's pages. Thirty-seven of the signatures are variously dated March 9, 1865, through November 20, 1887.
Signatures include Vice President Andrew Johnson ["Andrew Johnson of Tennessee"], Secretary of State William H. Seward, Secretary of the Treasury Hugh McCulloch [March 27, 1865], Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton [March 27, 1865], Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles [March 27, 1865], Postmaster General William Dennison [May 11, 1865], Attorney General James Speed [the first of two signatures], Admiral David Farragut [March 27, 1865], author Walt Whitman [September 16, 1879; the first of two signatures], Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant, Major General George G. Meade, Major General Philip H. Sheridan [May 11, 1865], Major General David Hunter, Major General Lew Wallace, Brigadier General August V. Kautz, Brigadier General Albion P. Howe, Brigadier General Thomas M. Harris, Brigadier General Lorenzo Thomas, Senator Henry S. Lane, Senator John Sherman [March 10, 1865], Senator Charles Sumner [March 10, 1865], former secretary of the treasury, Supreme Court Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase [March 9, 1865], illustrator Thomas Nast [November 20, 1887, with an original drawing], Brigadier General James H. Lane, Major General Christopher C. Augur, Major General Winfield Scott Hancock [February 23, 1867], Major General William Tecumseh Sherman [May 27, 1865], Secretary of the Interior John P. Usher [September 14, 1880(?), the signature and date are smudged making it difficult to make out the exact year], Major General Nathaniel P. Banks, Major General Benjamin F. Butler, Major General John A. Logan, Librarian of Congress Ainsworth R. Spofford [March 10, 1865], Brigadier General Galusha Pennypacker [January 4, 1871], et al.
The book itself measures 5.5" x 8.75" and is bound in brown Moroccan leather. The glossy title page, reading "Autographs / J.B. Lippincott & Co., / Philadelphia," is oxidized. Decorative borders in gilt with additional blind-stamped borders on the front and rear covers; "Autographs" gilt stamped in decorative lettering on both covers and the spine, which also features gilt decoration in four compartments. Gilt page edges.
This magnificent collection of signatures was compiled for Linton J. Usher (1852-1952), whose name appears on the front free endpaper. Young Usher, a native of Terra Haute, Indiana, moved to Washington with his mother and brothers in 1863 (at the age of ten) to be closer to his father, John Palmer Usher. He often accompanied his father to Cabinet meetings and many of the important signers of this book were frequent visitors to the Usher household. Due to his young age, his mother collected the majority of the signatures while residing in the nation's capital. The book has been in the possession of the Usher family since the Civil War.
According to the most updated census, there are five extant manuscript copies of Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address known:
1. The final draft of the address signed by Lincoln and presented to John Hay on April 10, 1865. This copy is currently held by the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
2. The copy presented in this lot containing an autograph transcript of the final paragraph held by the Usher family since the Civil War.
3. An autograph transcript of the final sentence of the second paragraph of the address, reading: "Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came." Found in an autograph album belonging to John P. Usher and sold by Christie's on March 27, 2002.
4. An autograph transcript of the final paragraph, identical to that presented in this lot, beginning, "With malice toward none," found in the autograph album of Caroline Wright, a friend of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln and wife of the governor of Indiana. This copy was sold by Christie's on November 20, 1992, and resides in a private collection.
5. An Abraham Lincoln autograph letter signed to Amanda Hall, dated March 20, 1865, containing an autograph transcript of the last two sentences of the third paragraph, reading: ''Fondly do we hope---fervently do we pray---that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said: 'The judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.''' Held by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois.
Condition: The front cover and spine covering are separating from the textblock, but still attached near the upper edge. The first six leaves (including the page with the Lincoln inscription) and title page are detached from the textblock. Endpapers are toned with some spots of foxing. Pages show some light toning, soiling, or foxing in places. Covers are lightly rubbed, particularly at the head and foot of the spine.
By July of 1864, the Civil War had been raging for just over three years and approximately 108,000 Union soldiers had already lost their lives (with a further 65,000 casualties to follow over the summer). Earlier in the spring, the Union Army, under the command of General Ulysses S. Grant, whom some now called "The Butcher," had launched a major offensive against Confederate General Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia. The Northern army suffered a series of disappointments at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor and was laying siege to Petersburg, Virginia -- the main supply base for the Confederate capital of Richmond -- with no end in sight. Further south, General William Tecumseh Sherman was besieging the city of Atlanta, Georgia. Many in the North grumbled that the war had been dragging on for far too long and, despite resounding Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg a year earlier, there was some question as to whether the South could be wholly defeated militarily. Needless to say, the war was not going well and, to make matters worse for Mr. Lincoln, a presidential election was looming.
The Republican Party had serious misgivings about nominating Lincoln for a second term. Coupled with an overall weariness of the war, many Northerners never fully cared for the president's Emancipation Proclamation, which changed the goal of the war from one of reunification to a campaign to eradicate that most "peculiar institution" - slavery. Horace Greeley, founder and editor of the New-York Tribune, wrote to former New York mayor, George Opdyke, "Mr. Lincoln is already beaten. He cannot be elected. And we must have another ticket to save us from overthrow. If we had such a ticket as could be made by naming [Ulysses S.] Grant, [Benjamin F.] Butler, or [William T.] Sherman for president, and [David] Farragut for Vice, we could make a fight yet. And such a ticket we ought to have anyhow, with or without a convention." (Thomas. Abraham Lincoln: A Biography, page 442) In a letter from a Colonel Shaffer to General Benjamin Butler, dated August 11, 1864, Shaffer informs him that he had met with Thurlow Weed, a Republican politician and newspaper man: "He says he thinks Lincoln can be prevailed upon to draw off. [Leonard] Swett, who I sent to Maine for, is of the same opinion. . . . Swett goes to Washington to-morrow night to tell Lincoln that it is the judgment of all the best politicians in this city and elsewhere that he can't carry three states, and ask him to be prepared to draw off immediately after the Chicago Convention." (Butler. Letters of Gen. Benjamin F. Butler, page 68) Lincoln's chances for reelection, even in his own mind, looked grim. He told one friend, Schuyler Hamilton, "You think I don't know I am going to be beaten, but I do, and unless some great change takes place, beaten badly." (Guelzo. Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President, page 386)
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party had split into two factions - the War Democrats, who supported a continuation of the war, and the Peace Democrats, who urged the negotiation of a peace deal that would secure victory for the Union. The Party came to a compromise. They ran on a peace platform and chose former Army of the Potomac commander, George B. McClellan, himself a War Democrat, as their candidate.
The "great change" so hoped for by the president came on September 3, 1864, (just two months before election day) when a telegram reached Washington from General Sherman stating, "Atlanta is ours and fairly won." (National Parks Service, accessed June 12, 2015) The heart of the Confederacy had been pierced and, with that, the tide of the war changed. McClellan's presidential campaign crumbled and on November 8, Lincoln won his second term - the first time a president would serve consecutive terms since Andrew Jackson won a second term thirty-two years earlier.
On March 4, 1865, the president delivered his Second Inaugural Address from the East Portico of the Capitol Building, in front of a crowd of thousands. Lincoln's speech, drawing heavily on the Holy Bible, is much shorter than his first four years earlier. He discusses the coming the war, saying, "On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war-seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came." The cause, in his mind, was slavery: "One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it." "Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained," he continued, "Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes." With that, he offers the speech's most powerful lines, words of reconciliation for a country torn apart by a terrible war: "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations." At the conclusion of the speech, the crowd cheered and the president took the oath of office for a second time, administered by his former secretary of the treasury, Supreme Court Justice Salmon P. Chase. Lincoln then kissed the Bible and returned to the White House.
As the president passed, Illinois Congressman Shelby Moore Cullom and his wife observed his carriage. Mrs. Cullom later wrote that the president's face had "the most peaceful, sublime and prophetic look which a human countenance could assume. Turning to Mr. Cullom, I said that at last I could see what men meant about the sublimity of the President's character. The look reminded me of what a martyr's face must wear when he is about to lay down his life for his convictions." (Willets. Inside History of the White House, page 91) Mrs. Cullom's prophetic words were realized less than six weeks later when President Lincoln was assassinated.
Reference: Thomas, Benjamin. Abraham Lincoln: A Biography. Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press, 2008; Butler, Benjamin F. and Jessie Ames Marshall. Private and Official Correspondence of Gen. Benjamin F. Butler During the Period of the Civil War. Vol. V. Norwood, Massachusetts: Plimpton Press, 1917; Achenbach, Joel. 2014. The Election of 1864 and the Last Temptation of Abraham Lincoln. http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health; Guelzo, Allen C. Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2003; Coons, Kim. 2014. So Atlanta is Ours and Fairly Won - General Sherman Captures Atlanta. http://www.nps.gov/chch/learn/news/so-atlanta-is-ours-and-fairly-won-general-sherman-captures-atlanta.htm. (accessed June 12, 2015); Willets, Gilson. Inside History of the White House. New York: The Christian Herald, 1908.
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