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Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln

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The Only Abraham Lincoln Letter to his Fiancée Mary Owens Still in Private Hands—Long on Politics, Short on Love

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Autograph Letter Signed, to Mary S. Owens, December 13, 1836, 2 pp., 9¾ x 7¾ in.

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Write back as soon as you get this, and if possible say something that will please me, for really I have not been pleased since I left you.

Here, Lincoln perfectly demonstrates what Owens later described as deficiencies “in those little links which make up the chain of a woman’s happiness.”  Rather than expressing his feelings for Owens, Lincoln complains about his health and discusses political issues swirling in the Illinois General Assembly. Although inept at love, the letter offers rare insight into the young representative’s thoughts on a variety of political issues. In this highly important letter to Mary Owens, a self-absorbed Lincoln complains to his potential spouse of his health, both physical and mental, and discusses political issues to the point that he describes his own letter as “dry and stupid.” Perhaps more revealing than he realized, it illustrates the tension in Lincoln’s early life between matters of the head, with which he was comfortable, and matters of the heart, with which he clearly was not.

Item #24346.99, $375,000

After Investing in its Stock, Lincoln Represents a Railroad in a Precedent-Setting Lawsuit

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Autograph Manuscript Signed by Lincoln in text, constituting his official transcript of the “Subscription Book of the Capital Stock of the Alton and Sangamon Rail Road Company,” incorporated February 27, 1847, transcribed in early 1851. Comprising a cover sheet titled in Lincoln’s hand, the joint stock subscription statement and list of 91 shareholders with the number of shares subscribed, and leaf with Lincoln’s legal docket: “Alton and Sangamon Railroad Company vs. James A. Barret. Copy of contents of subscription book....” 8 pp., 6⅝ x 8¼ x ¼ in.

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A list of stockholders, entirely in Lincoln’s hand, filed as evidence in his first significant railroad case. Lincoln’s own appearance in the shareholder list represents only the second known instance of a stock purchase by the future president. The Illinois Supreme Court’s ultimate ruling in favor of Lincoln and the railroad set an important legal precedent, upholding the binding nature of a stockholder’s contractual and financial obligations. “The decision, subsequently cited in twenty-five other cases throughout the United States, helped establish the principle that corporation charters could be altered in the public interest, and it established Lincoln as one of the most prominent and successful Illinois practitioners of railroad law” (Donald, p.155).

Item #21117.99, $325,000

Lincoln Pushes for Arkansas Without Slavery

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Autograph Letter Signed as President, to Frederick Steele. Washington, D.C., January 27, 1864. 1 p., 7¾ x 9¾ in. On Executive Mansion stationery.

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After announcing his Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction on December 8, 1863, Lincoln paid close attention to two Arkansas groups both aiming for reunion. Here, the president is concerned about potential conflicts with his plan, but in the end, both plans coincided in the key detail of ending slavery.

Item #22722, PRICE ON REQUEST

Lincoln Summons His Cabinet for a Historic Meeting to Discuss Compensated Emancipation

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Autograph Letter Signed, as President, to Secretary of State William H. Seward, “Executive Mansion,” Washington, D.C., March 5, 1862. Signed at bottom by “William H. Seward,” with a note in an unidentified contemporary hand. 1 p. 4¾ x 7¼ in.

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The United States is the only nation in history to end slavery through Civil War. Nations as diverse as Russia, the British Empire, France, Brazil, and others around the world ended their reliance on slave labor through legislative means that included some form of compensation to slaveowners for their lost “assets.” Here, President Lincoln requests that Secretary of State William Seward summon a meeting of the Cabinet. The following day, the president presented a special message to Congress with his plan end slavery through compensation. There were no takers among the slaveholding border states. The brevity of Lincoln’s letter belies its far-reaching implications and the tantalizing possibilities of “what might have been.”

Item #23747, $90,000

1858 Student Banner Supporting Douglas in Lincoln Douglas Debate at Knox College

[LINCOLN-DOUGLAS DEBATES], Campaign Banner Presented by the Democratic Students of Lombard University to Stephen A. Douglas before Galesburg Debate at Knox College, October 7, 1858. 28 x 28 in.

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This incredibly rare silk and wool banner consisting of two panels with a horizontal seam across the middle has an embroidered woolen wreath around the inscription in red ink, “From the Democracy / of / Lombard University / to / Stephen A. Douglas.” This banner joins the Kansas State Historical Society’s Lincoln banner as one of only two known “debate trophies” specifically tied to one of the participants.

Item #24949, $60,000

Five Presidential Commissions for Long-Serving American Military Officer, Engineer Joseph G. Totten

JOSEPH G. TOTTEN, Partially Printed Documents Signed as President, to Joseph G. Totten. Washington, D.C. On vellum. 1 p.

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An unparalleled offering of presidential commissions—from Thomas Jefferson to Abraham Lincoln—covering the most significant career advances of Joseph G. Totten, Chief Engineer of the U.S. Army.

General Winfield “Old Fuss and Feathers” Scott served 53 years, and 20th century generals such as Omar Bradley, Douglas MacArthur, and John Vessey all served fewer than 50 years each. Few men served longer or more substantially than Totten, though Revolutionary War veteran John Walbach and Hyman Rickover, the “Father of the Nuclear Navy” served longer, at 57 and 63 years, respectively.

This set of commissions, from an officer who served so long and contributed so much to American military preparedness in the run-up to the Civil War, is indeed a rare find.

Item #23097, $45,000

Abraham Lincoln Lengthy and Attractive Signed Legal Brief in a Case Heard by Judge David Davis, Later Lincoln’s Campaign Manager and Supreme Court Appointee

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Autograph Manuscript Signed by Lincoln as “Bush & Lincoln pq,” Narratio, March 1850, in the case of Matthews v. Saltonstall, April 1850 term of the Tazewell County Circuit Court. 2 ½ pp with approx. 670 words in Lincoln’s hand, blue paper.

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On September 20, 1849, William L. Saltonstall began building a road through Josiah Matthews’ land, southwest of Tremont, Illinois. Matthews objected and retained Abraham Lincoln and local attorney John M. Bush to file suit against in the Tazewell County Circuit Court, at the newly constructed courthouse in Pekin, on March 9, 1850. Matthews sued in the action of trespass and requested $500 for damage to his land. Saltonstall retained Lincoln’s former partner John T. Stuart and local attorney Benjamin F. James. In an affidavit filed on April 6, they declared that Guerdon F. Saltonstall could testify that six years earlier, when he owned the land, he and Matthews agreed that a lane be left along Matthews’ property as a right-of-way. Pending his testimony, the judge ordered a continuance. Both parties then agreed to arbitration, and on June 4, 1850, Matthews agreed that a right of way was necessary, and Saltonstall agreed to pay actual damages to be set by the arbitrators.  Three arbitrators viewed the land and listened to testimony. On June 12, they rendered their decision that Saltonstall should pay Matthews $16 and also pay $5.90 for the costs of the arbitration. At the September 1850 term of the Tazewell County Circuit Court, Judge David Davis dismissed the case, ordering Matthews to pay $2.40 in court costs.

Item #24513, $11,500

Lincoln Orders a National Day of Thanksgiving in Honor of the Union Victory at Gettysburg

[ABRAHAM LINCOLN]. [THANKSGIVING], Broadside. Proclamation of Thanksgiving. Massachusetts, [probably Boston], ca. July 27-August 6, 1863. 1 p., 20 x 28 in.

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Lincoln’s first call for a national day of Thanksgiving.

Item #23584, $8,500

A New York Newspaper Prints Lincoln’s Cooper Union Speech on the Front Page

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Newspaper. New York Semi-Weekly Tribune, New York, N.Y., February 28, 1860, 8 pp., disbound. The complete text of Lincoln’s speech is printed under the headline: “NATIONAL POLITICS, A Speech, Delivered at the Cooper Institute Last Evening, by, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, of Illinois.”

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“Let us have faith that right makes might.”

Item #23139, $7,500

A Union Officer’s Commission, and Field Report from
the 17th Connecticut Regiment at the Battle of Gettysburg

[CIVIL WAR – GETTYSBURG], Allen G. Brady, Autograph Manuscript, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 4, 1863. 6 pp., in pencil, an unsigned draft or retained copy.

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A field report from the Battle of Gettysburg by Major Allen G. Brady, commander of the 17th Connecticut Regiment, written on the 4th of July, 1863, the day after the battle ended in a great victory for the Union.

“We had not more than time to form before the enemy were discovered advancing rapidly upon us on our right & a full Brigade obliquely towards our left….our fire was so destructive it checked their advance the troops on our left giving way the enemy came in behind us but we still remained firmly at the stone wall until the rebels were driven back.”

Item #21808, $7,500

The Lincoln Assassination and Its Aftermath:
Read the Day-by-Day Coverage in New York Newspapers

[ABRAHAM LINCOLN], Newspapers. Volume of 54 issues of six different daily and weekly New York publications. Approximately 450 pp. From 11½ x 16½ in. to 23 x 31 in. per issue, depending on the title; most 15½ x 23 in.

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A remarkable archive of 54 issues of six different daily and weekly New York newspapers from the six weeks after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, with coverage of the assassination, the assassin, the funerals in New York and Springfield, and the hunt for the conspirators. Also includes one issue from July 1865 regarding the execution of the conspirators and one issue from February 1866 with coverage of a memorial service in Lincoln’s honor.

Item #30031.01, $6,500

1865 General Orders,
Including Many Regarding Lincoln’s Assassination

[CIVIL WAR - WAR DEPARTMENT], Book. Bound collection of separately printed General Orders from the Adjutant General’s office for 1865. Containing 168 of 175 consecutive orders, and a 94-page index at front. Bound for Major General William Scott Ketchum, with his name in gilt on the spine and his markings or wartime notes on numerous pages. 4¾ x 7 in.

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Item #22265, $5,550

Lincoln Proclaims a National Day of Humiliation and Prayer

[ABRAHAM LINCOLN], Broadside, “A Proclamation for a Day of Humiliation and Prayer,” July 7, 1864, printed under a forwarding Proclamation by Governor John Andrew of Massachusetts, July 28, 1864. 1 p. 18¼ x 27¾ in.

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The president calls on loyal citizens to implore the “Supreme Ruler of the World, not to destroy us as a people.

Item #24675, $5,500

Mary Lincoln’s Signed Copy of The Life of Marie Antoinette Queen of France

MARY LINCOLN, Signed Book. “Mary Lincoln. / 1878,” in her copy of Charles Duke Yonge, The Life of Marie Antoinette Queen of France, 2d rev. ed. (London: Hurst and Blackett, 1877), xvi, 432 pp., 8vo. bound in tooled purple cloth boards with titled spine. A carte-de-visite portrait of Mary Lincoln has been affixed to the front free endpaper.

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she bore her accumulated miseries with a serene resignation, an intrepid fortitude, a true heroism of soul, of which the history of the world does not afford a brighter example.

Item #24759, $5,000

The Emancipation Proclamation, Gen. Orders No. 1, First Edition of First War Department Printing, Bound with First Editions of Gen. Orders 2-201, Jan. to June 1863

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Printed Document. Emancipation Proclamation. Signed in type by Lincoln, Secretary of State William H. Seward, and Adjutant General Lorenzo Thomas. General Order No. 1, War Department, Adjutant General’s Office, Washington January 2, 1863, 3pp., intended for all military commanders in the field. Dated in print January 2, but, consistent with the time it normally took for military orders to be published, it likely came out closer to January 7. Earlier separate printings are very seldom available. (Eberstadt: Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation # 12.)

Bound together for Army paymaster Major N.S. Brinton with a 26-page handwritten subject index followed by separately printed and paginated orders from Jan. 1 to June 30, 1863. Brinton or a clerk apparently wrote the index as the orders were received. Since a printed index would have been available soon after the last order, it was likely bound in 1863. This sammelband also contains General Orders Affecting the Volunteer Force, Adjutant General’s Office, 1862. Washington: Government Printing office, [ca. March] 1863, with printed subject index, pp I – LVI, and pages 1-158.

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“All persons held as slaves within said designated States and parts of States are and henceforward shall be free.”

Also Bound with an 1863 Compilation of General Orders Affecting the Volunteer Force… for Jan. to June 1862, including the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

Item #23692, $4,500

Lincoln Rises to Top of “The Political Gymnasium” in Currier & Ives 1860 Presidential Election Print

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Print. The Political Gymnasium, lithograph cartoon. New York: Currier & Ives, 1860. Backed by linen. 1 p., 17½ x 12¾ in.

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Item #25454, $3,750

1860 Republican Party Roll Call from the Chicago Wigwam Convention that Nominated Lincoln for the Presidency

[REPUBLICAN PARTY], Broadside, “Roll of the National Republican Convention, Chicago, May 16th, 1860,” Chicago, 1860, 14⅜ x 20½ in.

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Exceedingly rare broadside containing a complete list of the members of the National Committee and Delegates. Printing the vote counts of 26 States and the District of Columbia. Representing the southern slave owning states are: Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Texas, and Virginia.

Item #24111, $3,750

Last Formal Photograph of Lincoln, with Son “Tad”

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Photograph [taken by Alexander Gardner, February 5, 1865], Albumen print by Bouve, Boston, Mass. Captioned, “President Lincoln and his Son Thaddeus/ The Last Photograph the President Sat For/ Published by G.F Bouve & Co, 41 Brattle St, Boston.” Image 6¼ x 8½ in., mounted on original board, 8 x 10 in.

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In this albumen print, Lincoln’s youngest son Thomas is erroneously called “Thaddeus,” because of nickname “Tad.” An unfinished Washington Monument (construction began in 1848, but was not completed until 1884) rises in the background perhaps referencing the funerary motif of a broken column symbolic of a life cut short. This image, showing father and son posing for what would be Lincoln’s last sitting.

Item #22350, $3,750

Prelude to Presidential Impeachment

EDWIN M. STANTON, Autograph Letter Signed as secretary of war, to Major General Henry W. Halleck on War Department letterhead. Washington, D.C.. April 26, 1866. 2 pp. 7¾ x 9¾ in.

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Edwin Stanton’s woeful letter to Lincoln’s former chief of staff, General Halleck, alludes to the difficulties of Reconstruction and the contention between Stanton and President Andrew Johnson. The conflict between Stanton and Johnson would soon give rise to America’s first presidential impeachment trial, following what nearly amounted to a coup d’ètat.

Item #21929, ON HOLD

Frederick A. Aiken Urging Frémont to Run Against Lincoln

FREDERICK A. AIKEN, Autograph Letter Signed, to John C. Frémont, Washington, D.C., June 12, 1864. 2 pp. 7¾ x 9¾ in.

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With the war going badly, the 1864 election is no shoo-in for the incumbent.

Frederick A. Aiken, former Secretary of the Democratic National Convention, applauds General John C. Frémont’s nomination by the Radical Republicans. He suggests that Frémont will have the blessing of the Democrats if he goes up against Lincoln for the Republican nomination. Aiken went on to serve (unsuccessfully) as defense attorney for Lincoln assassination conspirator Mary Surratt.

Item #20715, $3,200
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