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Sale 38 Lot 578A

ABRAHAM LINCOLN (1809-1865) Sixteenth President of the United States who led the Union through the Civil War and emancipated the slaves, assassinated. Fine content A.E.S. "A. Lincoln" as President, [Washington], Dec. 30, 1864 on the docket of an A.L.S. of LEONARD SWETT (1825-1899), a fellow attorney and friend of Lincoln, 2pp. 8vo., New York, Dec. 28, 1864. Swett, who practiced with Lincoln on the Illinois circuit in the 1850s, was a key organizer of the 1860 Chicago Republican National Convention that nominated Lincoln for President. Swett, a close confidant of Lincoln, here begs the President a favor for his nephew who was drafted into the army. He writes to Lincoln, in full: "Hiram B. Berry of the American Telegraphic Office at Washington D.C. has been drafted. He expected to have been able to secure a substitute but after earnest efforts has failed. I have known him and of him since his infancy. He [is] a young man of delicate constitution of slight forme [sic] and having spent nearly all his life in a telegraph office he is entirely unfit to endorse the fatigues of a campaign. To compel him to do so would in opinion sacrifice his life for no avail. He has been in the main office in Washington since the war began & is one of the most faithful and efficient operators. I submit whether he is not rendering more service to the Government when he is than he would in the field and I respectfully ask that he be discharged". On the verso, Lincoln writes: "Let this man be discharged A. Lincoln Dec. 30, 1864". A superb demonstration of Lincoln's deep humanity, but also a demonstration of political loyalty. Of the former, Swett observed that Lincoln, in his handling of pardons "...was full of tender sensibilities. He was extremely human...He would things he knew to be impolite and writing to save some poor fellow's neck. I remember one day being in his room when he was sitting at this table with a large pile of papers before him. After a pleasant talk, he turned quite abruptly and said: 'Get out of the way, Swett: tomorrow is to-day and I must go through these papers and see if I cannot find some excuse to let this poor fellow off.' The pile of papers he had were the records of court martial of men who on the following were to be shot..." (Emanuel Hertz, The Hidden Lincoln, pps. 299-300). Lincoln also appreciated political loyalty. Biographer Alexander McClure noted that "Of all living men, Leonard Swett was the one most trusted by Abraham Lincoln" (Elwell Crissy, Lincoln's Lost Speech, p. 296). Swett was also influential in persuading Lincoln to appoint David Davis to the Supreme Court arguing that Lincoln owed the presidency to Davis. Interestingly enough, Swett, who based his practice in Chicago following the Civil War, organized the hearing that confined Mary Lincoln to an insane asylum. Offered together with a letter of authenticity from Charles Hamilton. Light uneven toning, usual folds, some very minor marginal chips, else very good condition.
Estimate $ 8,000-10,000

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