The great human interest story of how Lincoln put aside consideration of what to do about Fort Sumter to help a child.
<p>One of the greatest human interest stories surrounding Abraham Lincoln is the famous (and true) tale of Lincoln sticking up for a boy to his classmates. The incident started innocently enough in May 1860, when after unexpectedly receiving the Republican nomination, Lincoln was visited in Springfield by many notables and journalists...
<p>One of the greatest human interest stories surrounding Abraham Lincoln is the famous (and true) tale of Lincoln sticking up for a boy to his classmates. The incident started innocently enough in May 1860, when after unexpectedly receiving the Republican nomination, Lincoln was visited in Springfield by many notables and journalists wanting to learn something about the nominee. One of these brought along his excited young son, George Evans Patton, to meet the soon-to-be chief executive. The father may have been New York journalist James Alexander Patten.<br /> <br /> Some months later, on March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated President of the United States. He was immediately completely absorbed by the onerous task of putting together a new administration, but even moreso, by the stark reality of determining policy on how to deal with the seceded states. And there was an emergency on hand, at Fort Sumter, in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. The fort could not be held by the Federal government for long without reinforcements and additional supplies, and this fact posed a terrible dilemma for the new President: a decision to send these could lead to war, while a decision to refrain would lead to the fort’s surrender and thus would lend recognition to the Confederacy. On March 16, 1861, Lincoln received written opinions from four cabinet members on the wisdom of sending supplies to Fort Sumter, and on the 18th he drafted a memorandum denominated, “Some considerations in favor of withdrawing the Troops from Fort Sumpter.” This memorandum was somewhat inaccurately named, as actually it assessed both pro and con potential decisions. The next day, on March 19, Assistant Navy Secretary G. V. Fox, who was assigned the task of planning a possible relief expedition to Sumter, conferred with the President about it.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, far from the affairs of state and the slide to war, young George Patten was proudly proclaiming to his schoolmates and teacher that he had met President Lincoln and shook his hand. His story was greeted with disbelief, and most likely, plenty of laughing and teasing. Patten’s teacher decided to put an end to his nonsensical tale and wrote a letter to the President. The letter reached Lincoln’s desk and he read it. And Abraham Lincoln would not allow an injustice to exist if he could do anything about it, anything at all. He took time out from his crushing tasks and decisions and sat at his desk and wrote the following.<br /> <strong><br /> Autograph Letter Signed</strong>, Executive Mansion, Washington, March 19, 1861. <em>“Whom it may concern: I did see and talk with Master George Evans Patten, last May, at Springfield, Illinois. Respectfully, A. Lincoln.”</em> Since the original address panel is still present, it seems that the letter was sent not to the schoolmaster, but to Patten himself, perhaps so that the boy would see that he had taken a personal interest in his plight.<br /> <br /> But the history of the letter does not end there. It found its way into the collection of Peter Gilsey, one of the 19th century’s most notable collectors, who was charmed by it. After his death, on February 26, 1903, the letter was sold in the Gilsey sale, with The New York Times reporting not merely the sale but highlighting this specific letter, saying it referred “to a little boy who was introduced to him [Lincoln], who on his return to school boasted of It, who was not believed by his schoolmaster, who then wrote to the President about it and got this reply.” It brought $90, a large sum back then, and the same amount as Gilsey’s survey of Mount Vernon completely in the hand of George Washington, and signed by him.<br /> <br /> <br /> The content of the letter had been published in Lincoln’s Collected Works in 1894. However, the attention the 1903 sale focused on the letter, the bright light it shines on the true nature of Abraham Lincoln the man, and its special meaning for children, led it to be included in “The Life of Abraham Lincoln For Boys and Girls,” by Charles Moores, copyright 1909. The next year, in a volume devoted solely to Lincoln, “Werner’s Readings and Recitations,” by Stanley Schell, gave a full treatment to the letter. It described the incident this way:?“When Lincoln was in Springfield, he met a little boy who was introduced to him, and who was allowed the honor of shaking his hand. The boy boasted of the incident among his schoolfellows, who refused to believe him…” The receipt of Lincoln’s letter “silenced the unbelievers and scorned object young George Evans Patten became the envy of the other boys. It is astonishing that Lincoln at this anxious time, with the multiplicity of things demanding his attention, should have found time to heed the request of a mere school-boy on a matter which was of absolutely no importance except to the boy himself. It is characteristic of the man that [he] could and would find time to remedy an injustice whenever brought to his notice, however humble the subject of it might be.” Indeed.<br /> <br /> As for Lincoln, ten days after writing this letter, on March 29, at an early morning cabinet meeting, he announced his decision to reinforce Fort Sumter, He then wrote the secretaries of war and the navy, “I desire that an expedition, to move by sea, be got ready to sail as early as the 6th of April next.” And what of the original letter to young Patten? It was submerged by time, its location or even continued existence unknown. We now present it here; it is before our eyes again. It has been many decades in the care of one family.<br /> <br /> According to our research and after consulting with the Abraham Lincoln Papers project, there are only four known letters of Lincoln as President addressed to or directly relating to children. There are two addressed to children – a letter sent to Clara and Julia Brown, the original of which has been lost, and this letter to young Master Patten. There are also two letters addressed to adults but relating to children; in this latter category, there is the letter addressed to Mrs. Horace Mann to read to her schoolchildren that sold recently for over $3 million, and a note delivered by a boy Horatio Taft but addressed to the office that appoints Senate pages. Two more letters are sometimes cited as additional examples, but the recipient of one, Fanny McCullough, was 22 years old and not a child, and the famous letter to Grace Bedell was pre-presidential. This letter to Patten appears to be the only Lincoln presidential letter addressed to a child whose location is known. </p>
Frame, Display, Preserve
Each frame is custom constructed, using only proper museum archival materials. This includes:The finest frames, tailored to match the document you have chosen. These can period style, antiqued, gilded, wood, etc. Fabric mats, including silk and satin, as well as museum mat board with hand painted bevels. Attachment of the document to the matting to ensure its protection. This "hinging" is done according to archival standards. Protective "glass," or Tru Vue Optium Acrylic glazing, which is shatter resistant, 99% UV protective, and anti-reflective. You benefit from our decades of experience in designing and creating beautiful, compelling, and protective framed historical documents.Learn more about our Framing Services