SIGNED QUOTATION FROM SECOND INAUGURAL INSCRIBED ON PRESIDENT’S MEMORIAL
IN THE MONTHS
IN THE MONTHSbefore the 1864 election, things were not going well for President Lincoln. The Republican Party had serious misgivings about nominating him for a second term. His Emancipation Proclamation was unpopular, and voters were weary of the ongoing Civil War. Behind the scenes, party leaders schemed to nominate Ulysses S. Grant or William T. Sherman for president.
Then, two months before Election Day, Union General William Sherman reported that Atlanta had fallen. The heart of the Confederacy had been pierced and, with that, the tide of the war changed. The campaign of Democratic challenger George McClellan crumbled and on Nov. 8, Lincoln won his second term.
Four months later, Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address from the East Portico of the Capitol Building. His speech drew heavily on the Holy Bible, and was much shorter than his first. The final passage of his address is inscribed on the Lincoln Memorial.
“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.”
On April 15, 1865, six days after the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth.
In the weeks before his death, Lincoln was known to write his final passage on paper. “It’s believed most were intended to be sold or raffled to raise money for medical supplies and care for wounded soldiers,” says Tom Slater, Heritage Auctions’ director of Americana. One of these sheets, part of an autograph book, is being offered at Heritage’s manuscripts auction scheduled for Nov. 4-5, 2015, in New York. It’s expected to realize at least $1 million.
The book includes signatures of Vice President Andrew Johnson, Secretary of State William H. Seward, Secretary of the Treasury Hugh McCulloch, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant, Admiral David Farragut, and author Walt Whitman.
“This magnificent collection was compiled for Linton J. Usher, a native of Indiana who moved to Washington with his mother and brothers in 1863 to be closer to his father, John P. Usher, who was Lincoln’s secretary of the interior,” says Slater. “Linton often accompanied his father to Cabinet meetings and many of the important signers of this book were frequent visitors to the Usher household. The book has been in the possession of the Usher family since the Civil War.”
The auction also features locks of Lincoln’s and First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln’s hair. Both locks and a mourning band have been held by the Usher family for 150 years. Included is a letter of provenance from Usher’s granddaughter stating the mourning cloth “was worn by my grandfather, John P. Usher, at Abraham Lincoln’s funeral.”
“The finest examples of Lincolniana rarely come to market,” Slater says, “and these are some of the most precious artifacts we’ve seen in some time.”