Lincoln letter goes on sale for $60k

In May 1860 Abraham Lincoln received the Republican nomination for the Presidency. In the wake of this, he took the time to meet a number of notable persons and journalists, including a journalist named Patten (probably James Alexander Patten of New York). Patten also brought his son.

Lincoln became President in the spring of the following year, and was immediately faced with a crisis at Fort Sumter which would lead to the Civil War.

George Evans Patten faced a crisis of his own - no one in his school would believe that he had met and shaken hands with the President.

His schoolteacher, presumably unaware of the urgency of the crisis which Lincoln faced, seems to have decided the fairest way to settle the matter was to write to the President.

On March 19 1861 Lincoln discussed with one of his Navy chiefs the relative merits and dangers of withdrawing versus increasing troops at Fort Sumter. He also took the time to send a message confirming that he had met the younger Patten:

"Whom it may concern: I did see and talk with George Evans Patten, last May, at Springfield, Illinois. Respectfully, A Lincoln."

Abraham Lincoln George Evans Patten
Abraham Lincoln's letter to George Evans Patten

The message is brief, but the fact that any exists at all in Lincoln's own hand is extraordinary.

The value of autographs is all about context and rarity. Naturally copies of the Emancipation Proclamation and other documents which changed history are extremely valuable.

We currently have a Lincoln document available promoting the important soldier James H Carleton at the height of the Civil War.

Highly prized also are documents which take place in proximity to great events, and those which give insights into the character of the author. The Patten letter has both, showing Lincoln's wish to confirm the truth in such a trivial matter despite working earnestly to plot the best course through troubled times.

In a particularly nice touch, Lincoln chose to send the reply to George Patten himself, rather than his teacher.

George Evans Patten Abraham Lincoln
George Evans Patten's address

Lincoln was perhaps particularly moved by the wishes and feelings of children. A heartfelt 1864 letter from Lincoln in response to a children's petition to free child slaves sold at auction last year for a staggering $3.4m:

"Please tell these little people I am very glad their young hearts are so full of just and generous sympathy, and that while I have not the power to grant all they ask, I trust that they will remember that God has, and that, as it seems, He wills to do it."

Lincoln had already outlawed slavery in Confederate states, but it was the 13th Amendment he signed in the year of his death, 1865 which abolished the practice across America.

The document is being sold by The Raab Collection who buy and sell historical autographs.

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