Raab Acquires Lincoln’s Original Inaugural Trip Letter

Rare Original Letter Acquired by Raab Shows Abraham Lincoln’s Invitation to His Great Inaugural Trip East, Arranging His Own  Security, Heading to Perhaps the Most Important Inauguration in American History

It is also an original invitation to travel with Lincoln on his Inaugural train, the only we have ever seen

The Raab Collection announced today that it has acquired a remarkable and original letter by Abraham Lincoln heading to his inauguration in 1861, showing the soon-to-be-President personally setting up his security detail for the long train ride east. This has been in a private collection for a generation. It is the only letter on this subject known to have reached the market.

“This powerful letter shows the 16th president taking a personal role in his own security during the pre-inauguration period,” said Nathan Raab, president of The Raab Collection and author of The Hunt for History (Scribner, 2020, soon to be out in paperback). “We have never seen another like it.”

I find the journey will have to be a circuitous and rather tedious one.

The letter, dated January 26, 1861, reads “I have determined to leave here for Washington on February 11th. subject to be changed for any extraordinary cause. I find the journey will have to be a circuitous and rather tedious one. I expect the pleasure of your company.”

Historical background

Abraham Lincoln was a virtual unknown when he was elected president. His very legitimacy as President was in question, and South Carolina seceded from the Union rather than acknowledge it. Moreover, Lincoln’s life was in grave danger, as enraged opponents sent him credible death threats that increased as his Inauguration approached.

Now Lincoln and his family had to reach Washington from Springfield. The railroad would provide an efficient mode of travel. The challenge was not the distance, but two issues. First, he must solidify support in the North. What Lincoln determined to do was a stunning departure from precedent. His train would carry him on a speaking tour, where he would go state after state and let the people see and hear him. It proved to be he most consequential pre-inauguration journey in American history, as he traveled through 93 cities and towns, giving speeches in many locations.

The second task was security. Lincoln thought it best to have experienced military men travel with him. Anti-slavery Major David Hunter was concerned with his safety and volunteered to be one of his escorts. Lincoln agreed. Lincoln also lined up Col. Edwin V. Sumner, who had written advising him to carry a weapon at all times. Then there was his bodyguard Ward H. Lamon, and the young militia organizer, Col. Elmer E. Ellsworth. Eleven campaign officials and his two secretaries also accompanied him.

This is Major Hunter’s original invitation to join Lincoln on the inaugural train and become part of his security detail. It is the only item we have seen directly related to Lincoln’s Inaugural train and his security measures.

About The Raab Collection

The Raab Collection has handled many of the most important historical documents to reach the market and worked with the families of famous Americans in the sale and preservation of their family treasures, among them Neil Armstrong, Thomas Jefferson, Ulysses S. Grant, William Henry Harrison, and Ronald Reagan. Nathan Raab is the author of the noted book, The Hunt for History (Scribner, March 2020), soon be out in paperback as well as hardcover. He is also a contributor to Forbes.com. To learn more visit www.raabcollection.com or follow @raabcollection on Twitter.

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