A fragment of a handwritten letter from Abraham Lincoln is to lead the sale of the Dow collection at Heritage Auctions with a minimum bid of $10,000.
Written to Baltimore based lawyer Reverdy Johnson on July 26, 1862, it references the ongoing civil war.
At the time support for the Union in the border states was evaporating as calls for newly emancipated slaves to be armed grew louder.
Johnson had been appointed by Congress to investigate the actions of Benjamin Butler, the general responsible for capturing New Orleans. Butler had reportedly been imprisoning foreign consuls and confiscating their property.
Johnson wrote to the president to warn him of the increasingly unstable situation in Louisiana.
Lincoln's reply is the source of a well-known quote: "I never had a wish to touch the foundation of their society, or any right of theirs."
The fragment offered features the last 11 words of the final paragraph of the letter, which reads in full: "I am a patient man - always willing to forgive on the Christian terms of repentance; and also to give ample time for repentance.
"Still I must save this government if possible. What I cannot do, of course I will not do; but it may as well be understood, once and for all, that I shall not surrender this game, leaving any available card unplayed. Yours truly A. Lincoln".
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