Recently on the anniversary of the date Abraham Lincoln gave his famous speech at Gettysburg in November 1863, the US Mint held the official release of the new Abraham Lincoln Presidential Dollar.
Did you know the Library of Congress holds over 11,000 documents pertaining to Abraham Lincoln in their Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana? Some of the material was written by Lincoln and others pieces were written to or about Mr. Lincoln. There are pieces from his law practice and documents from his terms in office from Illinois and Washington DC.
From the collection, the piece below is very interesting in that it not only includes excerpts from important Lincoln speeches and contributions, but it also has an autobiography in Lincoln’s own hand.
The picture of Abraham Lincoln looks very similar to the renditions by the US Mint’s artists for the various Lincoln coins.
Though somewhat difficult to read, the autobiography provides insights into Mr. Lincoln’s style.
In the vernacular of the day, Mr. Lincoln uses “sojourn” to describe someone visiting the area and “cipher” to equate to arithmetic (as in Reading, Writing and Arithmetic).
His comments noted that he had not been to school since he came of age. He also commented that he picked up knowledge from time to time under the “pressure of necessity.”
In the last section he included his physical attributes as six feet four inches in height and “lean in flesh” weighing 180 pounds (on average) with a dark complexion, coarse black hair and gray eyes.
In closing, a seal was used to authenticate Mr. Lincoln’s comments in addition to witnesses.
The seal has symbols similar to those found on our coinage with the eagle, the arrows, the olive branch and the shield.
People tend to forget that President Lincoln began his second term in office just before the end of the civil war and his assassination. The document above included an extract of President Lincoln’s last inaugural address.
From his struggles to rise above a lack of education to his service to his country as President, he would be an interesting man to meet.
The above information is courtesy of the Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana.