Newly Discovered Wartime Letters of Washington, Lincoln Showing Mercy, Pardon Power

Newly Discovered Wartime Letters of Washington, Lincoln Showing Mercy, Pardon Power

The Raab Collection, the nation’s leaders in important historical documents,  announced today that it has discovered, acquired and will offer for sale:

For decades, Raab has discovered and sold some of the most important archives and historical documents worldwide, and counts among its clients the esteemed Huntington Library, the Library of Congress, Harvard, Yale, & Princeton Universities, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the British Library, and many other collecting institutions, as well as a generation of serious private collectors.

“These two letters represent important and inspiring moments in American history, showing each President in the middle of war and negotiation” said Nathan Raab, president of The Raab Collection and author of The Hunt for History (Scribner, 2020, paperback coming out this March).

Washington’s letter to one of America’s first spy chiefs

This announcement inaugurates Raab’s month of discovery, history and inspiration.

Both letters show the men engaging in acts of mercy and clemency.

George Washington’s letter, dated January 15, 1783, is written to Elias Dayton, one of the first spy chiefs of the Revolutionary War.  It congratulates him on his promotion to General but also orders one of the last and most important prisoners of the war, Captain Schaack, released into New York, then occupied by the British.

“Sir: I have the pleasure to congratulate you on your late Promotion to the rank of Brigadier General which took place in Congress the 7th Instant. Your Commission arrived here yesterday and I shall keep it till I can have the pleasure to deliver it to you in person, which I must request may be as soon as possible, and that you come prepared to remain with your Brigade the remainder of the Winter. If Captain Schaack is not yet gone to New York, I must desire you to take measures to oblige him to go in.”

Abraham Lincoln’s letter stating his sole authority to pardon senior Confederate officers

Abraham Lincoln’s letter states that only he has the authority to release senior Confederate officers and that he must do that himself.  The letter, from the last few months of his life, dated January 9, 1865, reads:

“It is with regret that I learned that your brother, whom I had ordered to be discharged on taking the oath, under the impression that he was a private, is a captain. By an understanding, the Commissary of Prisoners detains such cases until further hearing from me. I now distinctly say that if your Father shall come within our lines and take the oath of Dec. 8, 1863, I will give him a full pardon, and will, at the same time, discharge your brother on his taking the oath, notwithstanding he is a captain.”

You can learn more about Raab’s role in discovery and history in this short video:

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