LINCOLN, ABRAHAM, President. Autograph manuscript signed ("Abraham Lincoln"), THE CONCLUDING PARAGRAPH OF HIS SECOND INAUGURAL ADDRESS ("With malice toward none; with charity for all..." etc.), written in the autograph album of Caroline R. Wright (d.1896), friend of Mary Lincoln, wife of Governor Joseph A. Wright of Indiana (1810-1867), the album also signed by Vice-President Andrew Johnson and 65 others including cabinet members, Senators and Congressmen, n.p. [Washington, D.C.], n.d. [probably written in March, sometime after Lincoln's Inauguration on 4 March 1865]. One page, 219 x 140mm. (8 5/8 x 5 3/8 in.), consisting of thirteen lines and signature in black ink, on page  of the album. THE ALBUM: 170 blank pages of good-quality bond paper, gold-printed titlepage reading: "AUTOGRAPHS, J.B. Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia" (the glossy coating of that page oxidized), bound in purple-black morocco leather, covers with gilt and blind-tooled borders, in the center of each cover the gilt-blocked legend "AUTOGRAPHS" in decorative lettering, spine richly gilt with stars, dots and small floral tools in four compartments, gilt-lettered in one, page edges gilt, enclosed in a plain paper wrapper (possibly original) with stamp on inside: "From Arnold Constable & Co., Broadway & 19th St." (perhaps the store where Caroline Wright acquired the album?), the leather slightly rubbed at top and base of spine, but otherwise in remarkably fine condition.
ONE OF LINCOLN'S MOST ELOQUENT AND MOVING UTTERANCES. A MONTH BEFORE HIS DEATH HE CALLS FOR RECONCILIATION AFTER FOUR YEARS OF WAR: THE MOST FAMOUS PASSAGE OF ANY PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURAL ADDRESS
'"With malice toward none;
with charity for all; with firmness in
the right, as God gives us to see
the right, let us strive on to fin-
ish the work we are in; to bind
up the nation's wounds; to care
for him who shall have borne
the battle, and for his widow
and his orphan -- to do all
which may achieve and cherish
a just, and a lasting peace am-
ong ourselves, and with all na-
ÿ Abraham Lincoln."
By the summer of 1864, as casualty lists lengthened and the Union armies seemed bogged down in the field, it appeared certain to most political observers, and to ÿPresident Lincoln himself, that he had no chance of being re-elected to a second term. The war to preserve the Union seemed unwinnable, a hellish vortex of destruction which consumed men and materiel in staggering numbers, all to no effect. The Democratic Party, sensing the profound war weariness of the northern electorate, drafted a platform calling for peace "at the earliest possible moment," and talk of compromise on the issue of slavery and even on the question of secession itself was rampant. By November though, the situation had changed drastically. Sherman's armies had battered their way through the Confederate lines to take Atlanta, the symbolic heart of the South. Lincoln made astute changes in his cabinet and worked diligently to rally his support. On election day, November 8, with the votes of furloughed soldiers swelling the returns, Lincoln and his party won a sweeping victory. By the time of his Inauguration, four months later, it was apparent that the Confederacy's defenses were crumbling rapidly. The end of the war was, at long last, in sight. And it was with a profound sense of thankfulness, tempered with an awareness of the horrific human suffering of the war, plus a humbling sense of how nearly he and his cause had lost the struggle, that Lincoln composed his Second Inaugural Address, delivered from the portico of the Capitol shortly after noon on 4 March 1865. This address "ranks in its eloquence and its evocation of the meaning of this war with the Gettysburg Address" (James McPherson, Lincoln and the Second American Revolution, 1991, p.186.)
In the address, Lincoln describes the root causes of the war, and admits that "Neither party expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration, which it has already attained." Then he ponders one of the fundamental paradoxes of war. Both North and South, he observes, "read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other." He concludes that "this terrible war," is an affliction due to those who had offended God by the institution of slavery, the conflict was a crucible in which the offence to God of human slavery would, like impurities in an ingot of metal, be burned away. Finally, in his concluding passage, Lincoln calls for renewed dedication to the grim task of finishing the work of war, and, when that goal is accomplished, an equal dedication to the work of reconciliation, healing and the establishment of peace.
Lincoln himself recognized the importance of the address, which, like the other masterpiece with which it is often linked, the Gettysburg Address, took only a few minutes to deliver. In a letter of March 15 to Thurlow Reeed, who praised the speech, Lincoln modestly stated that he expected his speech "to wear as well as - perhaps better than -
anything I have produced; but I believe it is not immediately popular. Men are not flattered by being shown that there has been a difference of purpose between the Almighty and them. To deny it, however, in this case, is to deny that there is a God governing the world. It is a truth which I thought needed to be told; and as whatever of humiliation there is in it, falls most directly on myself, I thought others might afford me to tell it."
In addition to the passage from Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, the album powerfully evokes the Capital and the Presidency in the critical period of March and April of 1865. Lincoln's inscription is, fittingly, the first in the book, and although undated, is likely to be the earliest, added not long after the Inauguration. The album also contains signatures or inscriptions on 38 pages, variously dated from 10 March 1865 to 6 May 1874 and including the following persons associated with Lincoln and his circle: Vice-President Andrew Johnson ("Andrew Johnson of Tennessee"), Secretary of State William H. Seward, Secretary of Treasury Hugh McCulloch, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of Navy Gideon Welles, Assistant Secretary of War Charles A. Dana, Attorney General James Speed, Secretary of Interior John P. Usher, Salmon P. Chase (Secretary of Treasury until 7 March 1865), James G. Blaine, Senator Charles Sumner ("Freedom always for all"), Librarian of Congress A.R. Spofford, Hannibal Hamlin (Vice-President in Lincoln's first term), Simon Cameron (Secretary of War in Lincoln's first cabinet), Admiral David G. Farragut and others. (A full list of contents is available.)
Caroline Wright and Governor Joseph A. Wright
Caroline Rockwell Wright, nee Davis, formerly Deuel, of New York, was active in philanthropic causes and became a principal founder of the famous Five Points Mission, operated by the Methodist Episcopal Church. In the early 1850's Mrs. Deuel's group purchased an old brewery in this notoriously poor, crime-ridden section of New York and converted it into the mission. She apparently left New York upon her marriage to Joseph Albert Wright (1810-1867) of Rockville, Indiana. He had served two terms in the Indiana House of Representatives (1833 and 1836), one in the State Senate (1839), one in the national House of Representatives (1843), and two terms as the Governor of Indiana (1849-1857). In June 1857, he was chosen by President James Buchanan to be Minister to Prussia. When the war broke out in America, he attempted to elicit from the Prussian government a condemnation of the Confederate states' secession. Wright was recalled in February 1862 to fill the Indiana Senate seat vacated by the expulsion of Jesse D. Bright, and served until January 1863. During their residence in Washington, it is evident that the Wrights became friendly with Abraham and Mary Lincoln (see, for example, the letter from Mary to Caroline, the preceding lot). There is correspondence of an official nature between Lincoln and Wright regarding appointments (see Basler). The Wrights are certain to have been in the Capital at the time of Lincoln's Inauguration, and may even have attended the ceremony and its attendant festivities. Many of the other inscriptions in Mrs. Wright's album are dated in the weeks following the inauguration, in April, which saw the end of the war and Lincoln's assassination, up to July, when Joseph Wright was again appointed Minister to Prussia, this time by President Andrew Johnson. While serving in that post, Wright died in Berlin on 11 May 1867. In spite of the indignant protests of Indianans, he was interred according to Caroline's wishes in Greenwood Cemetary, Brooklyn, New York. Mrs. Wright resided in New York until her death in 1896.
Manuscripts of Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address
1. Autograph manuscript signed, the final draft of the speech, given to Lincoln's Secretary, John Hay, on 10 April 1865. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
2. Autograph transcript of the passage: "Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war, rather than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came." Sold at auction in April 1980, present whereabouts unknown.
3. Autograph letter signed to Mrs. Amanda H. Hall, 20 March 1865, incorporating a transcript of the passage "Fondly do we hope - fervently do we pray - that this mighty scourge of way may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled up by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said: 'The judgements of the Lord are true, and righteous together." Facsimiles noted in Basler (VIII:367), original then untraced, original now in the Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield, Illinois.
4. Autograph transcript signed of the last paragraph ("With malice toward none; with charity for all..." etc.), in an autograph album compiled by John and Margaret Patterson Usher. Sold at auction in 1979, present whereabouts unknown. (Basler VIII:333n. conflates this and the next item.)
5. Autograph transcript signed of the last paragraph ("With malice toward none; with charity for all..." etc.), in the Caroline R. Wright album, as described here. Whereabouts unknown since Basler's 1953 footnote.
1. Caroline R. Wright, nee Davis, formerly Deuel (d.1896), whose ownership inscription: "Mrs. Joseph A. Wright, 452 Lexington Avenue, New York," appears on the album's front flyleaf.
2. Grace Frances Peck (d.1959), granddaughter of the above, who married Arthur R. Wendell, in whose possession the album was recorded in Roy P. Basler's 1953 edition of Lincoln's Collected Works (see Basler VIII:333n, inadvertantly confusing it with another ms.).
3. Eleanor S. Wendell, daughter of the above.