Memorial Day Commemorative: Abraham Lincoln’s/ (John Hay’s?) Letter to Mrs. Bixby

Abraham_Lincoln_November_1863John_Hay,_bw_photo_portrait,_1897

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.”

(H/t) Mark Levin Show

From Abraham Lincoln Online, Burlingame, Michael. “New Light on the Bixby Letter.” Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, Vol. 16, No. 1, Winter 1995, and Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler:

In the fall of 1864 Massachusetts Governor John A. Andrew wrote to President Lincoln asking him to express condolences to Mrs. Lydia Bixby, a widow who was believed to have lost five sons during the Civil War. Lincoln’s letter to her was printed by the Boston Evening Transcript. Later it was revealed that only two of Mrs. Bixby’s five sons died in battle (Charles and Oliver). Of the remainder, one deserted the army, one was honorably discharged, and another deserted or died a prisoner of war.

The authorship of the letter has been debated by scholars, some of whom believe it was written instead by John Hay, (then) one of Lincoln’s White House secretaries (and later Secretary of State under Presidents McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt). The original letter was either destroyed by the newspaper editor after publication or by Mrs. Bixby, who may have been a Confederate sympathizer and disliked President Lincoln. Copies of an early forgery have been circulating for many years, causing some people to believe they have the original letter.

Regardless, as a journalist writing in the August 6, 1925 edition of The New York Sun, noted, “If under the merciless hand of investigation it should be shown that this remarkable document [the Bixby letter] was not only based upon misinformation but was not the composition of Lincoln himself, the letter to Mrs. Bixby would still remain…. One of the finest specimens of pure English extant.”

Executive Mansion,
Washington, Nov. 21, 1864.

Dear Madam,–

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln

Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus, 2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism " (Prometheus, November, 2008) You can contact Dr. Bostom at @andrewbostom.org

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