RARE AUTOGRAPH LETTER TO AN AUTOGRAPH-SEEKER, WRITTEN AND SIGNED BY ABRAHAM LINCOLN WHILE TRAVELING TO THE INAUGURATION AND LATER SIGNED BY MARY TODD LINCOLN AS FIRST LADY
LINCOLN, Abraham and Mary Todd. Autograph letter signed. Philadelphia, February 21, 1861. Single sheet of unlined paper, measuring 6 by 9 inches.
Rare autograph letter to an autograph-seeker written by Abraham Lincoln in February 1861, just days prior to his first inauguration: "Philadelphia, Feb. 21. 1861. Mrs. James E.B. Stevens. My dear Madam, Below is my autograph according to your request. Yours truly, A. Lincoln," and additionally signed by Mary Todd Lincoln two months after becoming First Lady: "Mary Lincoln. Philadelphia May 11th." Mary Todd Lincoln's signature is in itself quite rare: her signature on the same piece as her husband's is extremely so.
On March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as the President of the United States. This letter was written just two weeks before, when Lincoln stopped in Philadelphia on his way to Washington. In Philadelphia, the President-Elect gave a speech at Independence Hall at the invitation of the Philadelphia Select and Common Councils, legislatively focused ancestors of the modern-day City Council. Philadelphia had given Lincoln 52% of the three-way vote, rendering a warm welcome almost certain. In fact, over 100,000 people welcomed Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln at Kensington Depot. However, three days prior, on February 18th, the CSA had sworn in Jefferson Davis as President. Thus, Lincoln offered a notably religious speech in which he promised to "restore peace and harmony and prosperity to the country." Interestingly, Mary Todd Lincoln did not sign this letter at that event; rather, she signed three months later as First Lady. According to the New York Tribune, Mary Todd Lincoln left Philadelphia at 2:00 p.m. on May 11, 1861 for a two day shopping binge. The signature is from the evening of her arrival. The woman who requested this letter, Mrs. James E.B. Stevens, appears to have been a prominent member of a missionary society and the wife of a Philadelphia Methodist minister. A notation under Mary Todd Lincoln signature in an unidentified hand (possibly Stevens') reads: "Written by President Lincoln and Mrs Lincoln, when the former was on his way to Washington to be inaugurated the first time. The inauguration took place on March 4th."
Signatures bold, faintest soiling and mild toning to edges. Near-fine condition.