Rare Lincoln Letter Found in Allentown

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A University of Illinois researcher had discovered a fourth copy of a rare letter Abraham Lincoln had written by to the nation's governors in 1861.

The letter John Lupton found Tuesday in the Lehigh County Historical Society's holdings was one Lincoln wrote as part of an unsuccessful ratification process for a constitutional amendment Congress adopted during the term of his predecessor, President James Buchanan, that would have made slavery the law of the land.

The president remembered for abolishing slavery had been willing to push the amendment as "kind of a carrot to the Southern states" if that would preserve the union, said Lupton, associate director of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln Project of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

"But even by that point, it was too late. By that time, the Southern states felt Lincoln's election was an affront," Lupton said. In fact, the letter discovered in Allentown was addressed to "His Excellency the Governor of the State of Florida," which had seceded from the union two months earlier.

Until Tuesday, only three of the letters were known to have survived. "It's a very cool document," Lupton said.

Joseph Garrera, the historical society director, said he will consult with the society's board to determine the best way to display the document and try to figure out exactly who donated the letter.

(Copyright 2006 by the Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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