As part of its global effort to locate Lincoln documents, the Papers
of Abraham Lincoln project has matched the envelope to the letter it
once held. The originals remain 9,500 miles apart, but digital
images of both will now be available to scholars and to the public.
The director of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln, Daniel W. Stowell,
received several leads on potential Lincoln documents in Australian
repositories and private collections during a trip there in July.
One of those leads was to Dr. Barry O. Jones, an Australian writer
and politician who has had a fascinating career.
Jones became a household name in Australia as a champion on a
television quiz show, appearing from 1960 to 1968. He served in the
Victoria state parliament from 1972 to 1977 and then in the
Australian House of Representatives from 1977 to 1998. Over the
years he has served as Australian minister of science, Australian
representative to UNESCO and president of the Australian Labor
Party. He also wrote "Sleepers, Wake!: Technology and the Future of
Work" (1982), which became a best-seller and was widely translated.
Jones purchased the envelope from a New York manuscript dealer in
1965. He graciously made a high-resolution image of the envelope and
sent it to the Papers of Abraham Lincoln. It can be seen at
The three-page letter that the envelope once contained is now
part of the Lincoln Collection at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential
Library and Museum. The letter is Lincoln's response to a request
from the governor of Kentucky to have Union military forces halt
their organizational efforts in that neutral state.
When hostilities erupted in April 1861 at Fort Sumter, President
Lincoln called for volunteers from every state to suppress the
rebellion. Northern states answered his call, additional Southern
states seceded, and the deeply divided state of Kentucky declared
neutrality. Initially, the United States and the Confederacy
respected this stance, each hoping to lure the strategic border
state to their side. However, both pro-Confederate and pro-Union
supporters in Kentucky soon began to organize themselves.
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On Aug. 19, 1861, Gov. Beriah Magoffin of Kentucky sent a letter
to President Lincoln complaining of recruiting activities there.
Magoffin sent the letter via two Lexington attorneys, William K.
Dudley and Francis K. Hunt.
Lincoln replied on Aug. 24 through the same two messengers.
Buoyed by news that Unionists had won substantial majorities in the
Kentucky General Assembly, Lincoln was direct with the
Southern-sympathizing governor. He said the military force there
consisted of Kentuckians who were "not assailing or menacing any of
the good people of Kentucky." Lincoln told Magoffin that he had
consulted with "many eminent men of Kentucky" and none but the
governor and his messengers had urged him to remove the military
Lincoln concluded: "I most cordially sympathize with your
Excellency in the wish to preserve the peace of my own native State,
Kentucky; but it is with regret that I search, and cannot find, in
your not very short letter, any declaration or intimation that you
entertain any desire for the preservation of the Federal Union."
The state of Illinois purchased the letter in 1941 from a New
York manuscript dealer.
The Papers of Abraham Lincoln is a long-term documentary editing
project dedicated to identifying, imaging, transcribing, annotating
and publishing all documents written by or to Abraham Lincoln during
his lifetime (1809-1865). The project is administered through the
Presidential Library and Museum and is co-sponsored by the
Center for State Policy and Leadership at the University of Illinois
Springfield and by the Abraham Lincoln Association.
Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
file received from the