LINCOLN, ABRAHAM, President. Autograph letter signed ("A.Lincoln") to George Clayton Latham, a classmate of Robert Todd Lincoln at Phillips Exeter Academy, Springfield, [Illinois], 22 July 1860. 2 pages, 8vo, integral blank, two small punctures at bottom edge of integral blank, but the letter otherwise in very fine condition, the ink unfaded.\n\n"A REMARKABLE GLIMPSE INTO LINCOLN'S INNER SELF...MORE SUCCINCTLY AND POIGNANTLY THAN ANY OTHER STATEMENT, IT REVEALS THE QUALITY OF SPIRIT WHICH UNDERLIES ALL THAT LINCOLN ACHEIVED" (--ROY P. BASLER)\n\n"My dear George\nI have scarcely felt greater pain in my life than on learning yesterday from Bob's [Robert Todd Lincoln's] letter, that you had failed to enter Harvard University. And yet there is very little in it, if you will allow no feeling of discouragement to seize, and prey upon you. It is a certain truth, that you can enter, and graduate in, Harvard University; and having made the attempt, you must succeed in it. 'Must' is the word.\n\n"I know not how to aid you, save in the assurance of one of mature age, and much severe experience, that you can not fail, if you resolutely determine, that you will not.\n\n"The President of the institution, can scarcely be other than a kind man; and doubtless he would grant you an interview, and point out the readiest way to remove, or overcome, the obstacles which have thwarted you.\n\n"In your temporary failure there is no evidence that you may not yet be a better scholar, and a more successful man in the great struggle of life, than many others, who have entered college more easily.\n\n"Again I say let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed.\n\n"With more than a common interest I subscribe myself. Very truly your friend. A Lincoln."\n\nRobert Todd Lincoln (1843-1926), the eldest son of Abraham and Mary Lincoln, had attended Illinois State University in Springfield, then traveled to Cambridge, Massachusetts in the summer of 1859 to take the entrance examinations for Harvard University. His performance was far from stellar: he failed in fifteen out of sixteen subjects. In order to prepare to take the tests again, Robert was enrolled at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. One of his friends from Springfield, George Clayton Latham, who had attended Illinois State University with Robert, was also enrolled at Exeter, so the two boys arranged to share lodgings in the home of Mr. & Mrs. Samuel B. Clark at 7 Pleasant Street, close to the campus. Abraham Lincoln paid Robert's tuition, which came to $24.00 a year, plus the costs of room and board. As Robert recounted many years later: "I went to Exeter hoping to enter the Class preparing to enter College, the next July, as a sophomore. The worthy principal, Dr. Gideon Lane Soule, soon convinced me of the vanity of my aspirations and I was obliged to enter the Sub-freshman Class."\n\nIn early 1860, Abraham Lincoln journeyed to New York for a speaking engagement in New York, for which he was to be paid two hundred dollars plus expenses. This was to be the famous Cooper Union Address, given on 27 February 1860. Lincoln, anxious to visit his son, then went to Providence, where he spoke to another large audience, and continued by train to Boston, then on to Exeter, arriving there on 29 February. He spent the night with Robert, probably sharing the boys' room. The next morning, Lincoln, his son and Latham set out for Concord, New Hampshire, where Lincoln spoke in Phoenix Hall; then on to Manchester, where he spoke again at Smyth Hall. He stayed the night in Manchester, probably with the two boys, returned to Exeter on 2 March, then went to Dover to deliver yet another address. Finally, exhausted with public speaking, Lincoln returned to Exeter to spend the weekend of March 3 and 4 with his son and his classmate, George. Little is known of their activities, but on Sunday they attended services at Phillips Church. Early on Monday morning Lincoln boarded a train to Hartford and Robert and George resumed their studies.\n\nLater that year, both Robert and George Latham took the entrance examinations for Harvard. Robert, to his great relief, was able to report to his father that he had "succeeded in entering College without a condition - quite a change from the previous year." He was, at last, to realize his goal of attending Harvard. Unhappily, though, his friend George Latham had failed the examinations. When Latham's disappoinment was reported by Robert to his father, who had become the Republican Party nominee for President in mid-May and was already deluged with correspondence and the pressures of a hard-fought Presidential campaign, Lincoln took the trouble to write Latham the present eloquent and moving letter, commiserating with Latham and counselling him to renew his efforts to acheive his goal. This is one of Lincoln's personal letters singled out by Roy P. Basler, editor of the 1953 Collected Works of Lincoln for inclusion in his Abraham Lincoln: His Speeches and Writings (Cleveland 1946, reprint 1990). In his commentary there, Basler observes that "a remarkable glimpse into Lincoln's inner self is revealed in this letter. More succinctly and poignantly than any other statement, it reveals the quality of spirit which underlies all that Lincoln acheived." The letter was first published in New Letters and Papers of Lincoln, ed. P.M. Angle (Springfield: Abraham Lincoln Association, 1933), p.250, and later in Collected Works, ed. R. P. Basler, 4:87.\n\nIt is not known whether the recipient of Lincoln's forceful letter, George C. Latham, did in fact try again to be admitted to Harvard. He is known to have attended Yale University for two years. In February 1861 he was a member of the inaugural party which accompanied the Lincolns to Washington for the Inauguration ceremonies. In later years he resided in Springfield and is buried at Oak Ridge Cemetary, where Abraham Lincoln is interred.\n\nProvenance:\n1. George C. Latham (1842-1921), the recipient\n2. Mrs. H.S. Dickerman, daughter of the above\n3. Mr. Henry S. Dickerman, son of the above\n4. The present owner, by descent.