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LETTER TO THE PARENTS OF COLONEL
ELMER E. ELLSWORTH

May 25, 1861

[The very beginning of bloodshed brought heart-break to the home of President Lincoln, in the tragic death of Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth, who had been almost a son to Mr. Lincoln. This letter which he sent to the parents of the gallant young officer shows the depth of his sympathies and the strength of his personal affection.]

Washington, D. C., May 25, 1861. To the Father and Mother of Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth:

MY DEAR SIR AND MADAM: In the untimely loss of you noble son, our affliction here is scarcely less than your own. So much of promised usefulness to one's country, and of bright hopes for one's self and friends, have rarely been so suddenly dashed as in his fall. In size, in years, and in youthful appearance a boy only, his power to command men was surpassingly great. This power, combined with a fine intellect, an indomitable energy, and a taste altogether military, constituted in him, as it seemed to me, the best natural talent in that department I ever knew.

And yet he was singularly modest and deferential in social intercourse. My acquaintance with him began less than two years ago; yet through the latter half of the intervening period it was as intimate as the disparity of our ages and my engrossing occupations would permit. To me he appeared to have no indulgences and no pastimes; and I never heard him utter a profane or an intemperate word. What was conclusive of his good heart, he never forgot his parents. The honors he labored for so laudably, and for which in the sad end he gallantly gave his life, he meant for them no less than for himself.

In the hope that it may be no intrusion upon the sacredness of your sorrow, I have ventured to address

you this tribute in memory of my young friend and your brave and early fallen child.

May God give you consolation which is beyond all earthly power.

Sincerely your friend in a common affliction,

A. LINCOLN.

LETTER TO MRS. BIXBY

November 21, 1864

[Burdened with his public duties though he was, Mr. Lincoln found time to write to a grief-stricken mother this letter.]

EXECUTIVE MANSION, Washington, November 21, 1864. MRS. BIXBY, Boston, Massachusetts:

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 words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to 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,

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

LETTER TO HIS DYING FATHER

January 12, 1851

[This letter, addressed to Lincoln's step-brother, John D. Johnston, was sent on receipt of the news that Thomas Lincoln, Abraham's father, was very ill, and probably could not recover. Lincoln had been generous in his gifts to his father during his declining years, and cared tenderly for his step-mother after his father's death. Prevented by illness in his own home from going to his father's bedside, he wrote directing that no care or comfort for either his father or step-mother should be omitted. The closing part of the letter is given herewith.]

DEAR BROTHER:

Springfield, Illinois, January 12, 1851.

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I sincerely hope father may recover his health; but at all events, tell him to call upon and confide in our great and good and merciful Maker, who will not turn away from him in any extremity. He notes the fall of a sparrow, and numbers the hairs of our heads, and He will not forget the dying man who puts his trust in Him. Say to him that if we could meet now it is doubtful whether it would not be more painful than pleasant, but that if it be his lot to go now, he will soon have a joyous meeting with many loved ones gone before, and where the rest of us, through the help of God, hope ere long to join him. Write to me again when you receive this.

Affectionately,

A. LINCOLN.

PART III

A BIBLIOGRAPHY OF BOOKS IN PRINT RELATING TO ABRAHAM LINCOLN

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