Raab Acquires Abraham Lincoln’s Great Letter to the Women of the Civil War Praising “our gallant and suffering troops”

The letter, from 1864 and valued at $120,000, was addressed to a group of women raising money for sick and wounded soldiers, and was sold by them for the-then remarkable sum of $100.

The Raab Collection, the nation’s leader in important historical documents, announced today that it has acquired a famous and powerful historical letter signed by Abraham Lincoln. The then-president donated this letter and its message to a team of women who were raising money for sick and wounded soldiers. The letter is valued at $120,000 and has until now been in a private New York City collection. It originally sold in 1864 for $100.  You can learn more and read the full background of the letter.

The Raab Collection has handled many of the most important historical documents to reach the market and worked with the families of famous Americans in the sale and preservation of their family treasures, among them Neil Armstrong, Thomas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). He is also a contributor to Forbes.com.

The letter:

President Lincoln wrote from Washington, March 2, 1864, “To the New-England Kitchen, connected with the Brooklyn Sanitary Fair”. “It is represented to me that my autograph, appended to this little note, may somewhat augment, through the means you are so patriotically employing, the contributions for the benefit of our gallant and suffering soldiers, and for such an object I am glad to give it. Yours, truly, A. Lincoln.” As the “Abraham Lincoln Quarterly” wrote, by their very preservation after 150 years, these mementos “indicate the importance of the Sanitary Fairs in the life of the Union, and Lincoln’s devotion to the amelioration of personal suffering.”

The United States Sanitary Commission cared for the Union’s sick and wounded soldiers and promoted clean and healthy conditions and army camps. It held fairs in certain large cities around the country, mainly in 1863-4, to raise funds for its activities. These large-scale fairs were mainly run by women who wanted to do their part, and were social events that combined entertainment, education, and philanthropy. Lincoln was intensely interested in this branch of civilian service, and his personal assistance to benefit these fairs is well known, as he contributed documents and signatures, and on rarer occasions letters, to be sold or auctioned at the fairs.

At the Brooklyn Sanitary Fair in 1864, one of the attractions was the “New England Kitchen.” Women dressed in colonial costumes and demonstrated the kinds of activities done by women at the time of the American Revolution in 1776. The New England Kitchen determined to approach President Lincoln about providing a memento that it could sell as part of its activities. The daily newspaper published during the Fair, in the issue of March 5, 1864, printed the following notice: “It appears that the President of the United States has kindly shown an active interest in our Fair. Rev. Mr. Woodruff, of the Hanson Place M.E. Church in this city, during an interview with President Lincoln on Wednesday, obtained an autograph letter to the New England Kitchen, which was handsomely announced yesterday at the dinner- table of the Kitchen, by Mr. Murray, and instantly sold for one hundred dollars to C. H. Mallory, Esq., of Mystic Bridge Connecticut.

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