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    Lincoln Assassination: Period Commentary. Five letters written by ordinary citizens in the wake of the assassination, expressing their feelings and thoughts on the event. 1) 1-page letter, San Francisco, April 15, 1865, in part: "News has just reached us that President Lincoln was assassinated at Washington last night and died at 7.22 this morning... The whole town is in a ferment. Hall bell is tolling - flags being placed at half mast... business is fast being suspended... My feelings on the occasion are deeper than I can tell...", 2) 6-page letter, Jonesboro, East Tennessee, Camp of the 15th O.V.V.I., April 16, 1865, from William J. Helsley to his wife. The first part of the letter has excellent war-time content, discussing possible seniority preference for mustering out as well as the attitude of seasoned troops versus new recruits and how each reacts to orders from superiors. The last 2 ½ pages deals with the assassination. In part: "I suppose you have all heard the sad sad news of the death of President Lincoln and Seward which is a hard blow to Nation for never was a more honest man in Washington than Abram Lincoln & I am in hopes the report is false but I am afraid it is too true. We have not heard anything official yet... it will create an eternal hatred in the army against the south and the copperheads and the Knights of the Golden Circle and woe be unto any one that ever says a word against Abram Lincoln in the presence of the soldiers... I am in favor of hanging every leading man in the south and all the officers above Captains and every man in the North that has any thing to do with the Knights of the Golden Circle..." 3) 2-page letter, Peoria, "Provost Marshal's Office, Fifth District Illinois" letterhead, from Joseph R. Vail to his father, in part: "...I... feel wretchedly as all loyal people have felt since receiving the news of the terrible tragedy at Washington... Crowds of men and women congregate on the corners mournfully awaiting further details, hoping, fearing, doubting. Yesterday I saw stouthearted men on the street with tears streaming down their faces, while with teeth shut hard down & clenched fists they uttered imprecations loud & deep on the whole race of rebels, North & South... Lincoln's great fault was generosity - leniency towards the erring. Perhaps his work was done and it was intended that another with different views of justice should superintend the re-establishment of civil government in the South - that greater severity than Lincoln was capable of is necessary to rebuild, so that the house will not fall again." 4) 3-page letter, Brown's Corner, Maine, April 25, 1865, expending ¾ of a page on Lincoln, in part: "... a look of sadness comes over almost every countenance as they remember Lincoln is no more. I was in Augusta on the day of the funeral. There was a large crowd assembled in front of the Courthouse which was draped in mourning. The infantry, Firemen, Freemasons and many of the citizens formed a procession..." 5) remarkable 4-page letter, Bristol, Rhode Island, April 16, 1865, sent by a rather eccentric and creative person to George A. Spencer, Co. I, 7th Regiment R.I.V., 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 9th Army Corps in Washington. The text of the last page of the letter is written in a spiral design, forcing one to rotate the letter as it is being read. The envelope is elaborately rendered in a calligraphic style with pin-prick designs on the edges (restoration to loss at left edge of envelope). There are rebus symbols interspersed throughout the letter and the writer has offered to decipher the letter and read it aloud to the recipient, in person, if need be. In part, with corrections to the folksy spelling: "... Everybody seems to feel the stroke when they think they have lost the father of our country and the savior too... may Andy Johnson follow on (and show no quarter)... The hounds were out last Monday morning about ½ past 2 o'clock when the news come of lee's surrender, everything to make a noise, drums a beating, bells a ringing, boy hollering and fires a burning... we will have an old splitter when you lick them lick them so they will stay licked. That's the only way now. Show no quarter for they have killed the man that had the helm but now the mate takes charge and Jeff will find he has a tougher one to deal with than Uncle Abe for he will say revenge we will have."



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    Auction Dates
    January, 2015
    24th Saturday
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