So You Think You Can Read?

New York Tribune founder Horace Greeley, famed for his illegible handwriting, once scribbled a note to a member of his staff, dismissing him for gross incompetence and neglect of duty.

The staffer, encountering Greeley many years later, thanked his former boss for the illegible note. “I took it with me,” he explained. “Nobody could read it, so I declared it a letter of recommendation, gave it my own interpretation, and obtained several first-class situations by it. I am really very much obliged to you.”

Below is one letter from an archive we are cataloging.  This piece, written to War Secretary Simon Cameron, blames the Lincoln Administration for its failures and places blame for loss in battle squarely at its feet.

Can you read this?  Key below (scroll down).


“…I do not believe that this war can or ought to be prosecuted through the present year. If the rebellion is not substantially crushed within a year from the opening of fire on Fort Sumter, I hold that the European powers will and ought to recognize the Confederacy and interpose to stop the useless and murderous effusion of blood.”

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