Today, the Lincoln Commemorative Silver Dollar Coin remembers when the French committee presented a gold medal to the American Ambassador to France in Paris 151 years ago to be delivered to Mary Todd Lincoln.
From Appleton’s Annual Cyclopædia and Register of Important Events for the year 1866, published in 1870:
On December 1st the gold medal, purchased in France by subscription for Mrs. Lincoln, was delivered by the committee into the hands of Mr. Bigelow, at the United States legation.
Mr. Bigelow was at the same time requested to take charge of the following letter to Mrs. Lincoln:
“Madame: We are charged to present you with the medal struck in honor of the great man whose name you bear, at the desire of upward of 40,000 French citizens, who wish to manifest their sympathy for the American Union by a tribute of respect to the memory of one of its purest and most illustrious representatives.
“If France possessed the liberties that America enjoys, it is not by thousands but by millions that the admirers of Lincoln would be counted.
“Pray accept, madame, the homage of our profound respect.”
The Members of the Committee: —
Albert, ancien membre du gouvernement provisoire;
Arago (Etienne), ancien représentant du peuple;
Barni (J.), professeur à l’Académie de Genève;
Blanc (Louis), ancien membre du gouvernement provisoire;
Chassin (Ch.-L.), homme de lettres;
Chauffour-Kestncr (Victor), ancien représentant du peuple;
Delord (Taxilc), rédacteur de l’Avenir National;
Despois (Eugène), professeur libre;
Greppo, aucien représentant du peuple;
Hugo (Victor), ancien représentant du peuple;
Joigncaux (Pierre), ancien représentant du peuple;
Kneip (Louis), ouvrier en pianos;
Laurent-Pichat (L.), homme de lettres;
Littré, membre de l’lnstitut;
Mangin (Victor), rédacteur en chef du Phare de la Loire;
Michelet (J.), membre de l’lnstitut;
Pelletan (Eugene), député de la Seine;
Quinet (Edgar), ancien représentant du peuple;
Schœlcher (Victor), ancien sous-secrétaire d’etat au ministère de la marine, ancien représentant;
Thomas (A), ancien directeur du National.
In presenting the above letter and medal, M. Albert, member of the Provisional Government of 1848, addressed Mr. Bigelow as follows:
“We thank you, sir, for having taken upon yourself to transmit to Mrs. Lincoln the gold medal which French citizens desire to present to her.
“This medal is a homage rendered to the illustrious President for whom she mourns, a testimony of admiration for the man who immortalized himself in the service of the great Republic of the United States, and a thank offering due to him from all defenders of liberal and democratic views throughout the world.
“We are happy to think, sir, that Mrs. Lincoln will receive this medal from your hand, and we beg you to accept the expression of our warm sympathy for the great nation which you have the honor to represent. ”
Mr. Bigelow warmly thanked the committee for their sympathy with the American Republic.
The following is the reply of Mrs. Lincoln: Chicago, January 8, 1867.
“Gentlemen: I have received the medal you have sent me.
“I cannot express the emotion with which this proof of the sentiments of so many thousands of your countrymen fills me.
“So marked a testimony to the memory of my husband, given in honor of his services in the cause of liberty, by those who in another land work for the same great end, touches me profoundly, and I beg you to accept, for yourselves and those whom you represent, my most grateful thanks.
“I am, with the profoundest respect, your most obedient servant,
The Lincoln Commemorative Silver Dollar Coin shows with an image of the gold medal France provided to Mary Todd Lincoln in 1866.