Tag Archives: Civil War

The Ultimate Oscar-Ready Lincoln Collection


We are offering a unique opportunity for one high-level collector with a passion for history—a comprehensive collection reflecting the span of Lincoln’s adult life from prairie lawyer, to the Presidency, to immortality in the American pantheon. This ready-to-display collection is being auctioned on eBay through February 18th, and is guaranteed to be delivered in time for the ultimate Oscar party.

Beginning with the chair in which Lincoln was sitting when he received the telegram that he had won the 1860 Republican Presidential nomination, the collection contains more than 50 items, including 12 documents handwritten and/or signed by Lincoln, and others by Frederick Douglass, William T. Sherman, and Ulysses S. Grant, along with rare books, artifacts, images, and imprints.

The winning bidder will also be helping Free the Slaves, which will receive 10% of the final sale price. The organization, based in the U.S. and operating around the world, works to free victims of modern-day slavery. Dr. Kevin Bales, the group’s co-founder, writes, “We are honored that Free the Slaves has been chosen to receive a portion of the proceeds from the auction… Our group will use the contribution to help finish what Lincoln started—creating a world forever free from slavery.”

Highlights and a brief summary of the collection are available on eBay and links to more detailed descriptions are on our website.

On Lincoln’s birthday, February 12, we will be hosting an open house at C. Parker Gallery, 17 E. Putnam Ave., Greenwich CT. Special showings are also available on request. Call me at 914-289-1776 or email me at

A special note from Seth Kaller
Last year, I joined the advisory board of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln, based at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, IL. My first meeting coincided with the 10th annual Lincoln Legacy Lecture, where I saw a powerful keynote presentation on modern day slavery. Since then, I sought an opportunity to apply my interest in history to a significant problem that remains today. After several conversations, Free the Slaves was recommended to me as a fitting choice to further Lincoln’s most important legacy.

This collection inaugurates a new Seth Kaller, Inc. policy: for every sale we make of slavery-related historic documents, we will make a donation to Free the Slaves. If you would like to learn more visit

Seth Kaller

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Posted by on February 9, 2013 in General


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William David Porter’s Commission as Commander in the Navy


On December 27, 1858 President James Buchanan signed the military commission of William David Porter appointing him Commander in the Navy. Porter was the third brother of a famous naval family. His father, Commodore David Porter, gained fame as captain of the U.S.S. Constitution and later the U.S.S. Essex during the War of 1812. His more famous younger brother, David Dixon Porter, was an admiral during the Civil War and later superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy. His adopted brother, David Farragut, also rose to the rank of admiral.

William shipped out at 12 years of age on the U.S.S. Franklin, served as lighthouse inspector, and later as ordnance officer at the Washington Navy Yard. He helped develop explosive shells and, from the mid-1840s through 1855, outfitted steamers and commanded supply vessels. He retired in 1855, but at the end of 1858, President James Buchanan promoted him with this commission to commander of the sloop-of-war St. Mary’s in the Pacific.

At the outset of the Civil War, he was reassigned to assist Andrew Foote in creating the Western Flotilla to control the Mississippi River. Porter patrolled the river and engaged Confederate gunboats aboard the U.S.S. Essex, named after his father’s vessel. He was injured when the Essex’s boilers were hit during the attack on Fort Henry, Tennessee, on February 6, 1862. He supervised the vessel’s reconstruction, as well as the construction of Union ironclads, and eventually rejoined the Western Flotilla. In July 1862, he engaged the ironclad C.S.S. Arkansas and narrowly escaped capture after running aground. A month later, the Essex succeeded in destroying the Arkansas. Porter then participated in the bombardment of Natchez, Mississippi, in September 1862. Returning to New Orleans, he was promoted to the rank of commodore and reassigned to New York, where he died in May 1864.

See this beautifully engraved vellum document, signed 154 years ago today . . .

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Posted by on December 27, 2012 in General


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Writing and Reporting the Gettysburg Address

Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery on November 19, 1863. His words have persisted as a supreme distillation of American values despite his assertion that “the world will little note nor long remember what we say here.”

Many Americans believe Lincoln wrote the speech on the back of an envelope while riding the train to Gettysburg. This charming piece of fiction originated in Mary Shipman Andrews’s 1906 book, The Perfect Tribute. Two of Lincoln’s autograph manuscript drafts of the speech survive. Based on Lincoln’s schedule and the paper trail, historian Gabor Boritt concludes that Lincoln wrote the first part of the first draft in Washington and finished it that evening in Gettysburg. Boritt also concludes that Lincoln quickly wrote the second draft the next morning. The second draft may have been Lincoln’s reading copy, as it is closest to the words captured by reporters at the scene.

Lincoln surrounded himself with the press corps, reflecting the rise of news reporting as big business with the advent of the telegraph. Early Lincoln scholars thought that there were only four reporters on the scene, (Associated Press and New York Herald reporter Joseph Gilbert, Boston Daily Advertiser reporter Charles Hale, and reporters from the Chicago Tribune and Philadelphia Enquirer), but we now know that there were at least 23 additional reporters there, including many of Lincoln’s allies in the Republican press.

Known as “Lincoln’s dog,” Lincoln supporter and Philadelphia Press owner John Forney offered a pro-Lincoln rant the evening before the speech. Despite his intoxication, he was sober enough to wait for the slew of correspondents to arrive to take down his words.

The New York Herald received the Associate Press text by telegraph and published it the next day. More Americans learned of the speech through the AP text and its variants than any other source. When Lincoln penned his later copies, he was said to have referenced the AP report.

Detail from The World, New York, November 20, 1863, with the Associated Press version.

The text of the AP version and its slight variants (usually punctuation and capitalization) are easily identifiable by the use of the phrase “to the refinished work” instead of the more appropriate “to the unfinished work.” The AP version also omitted the word “poor” in the line The brave men living and dead who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our [poor] power to add or detract” even though multiple eyewitnesses recorded it and it was present in both of Lincoln’s manuscript drafts. In addition to the “poor” omission, the phrase “We are met to dedicate” is “We have come to dedicate” in Lincoln’s written copies. Moreover, Lincoln must have extemporaneously added “under God,” which he included in versions he penned after the fact.

Unsurprisingly, the AP version of Lincoln’s speech was the most widely distributed first-day printing of the text. However, many other newspapers had reporters in the field. Charles Hale, who worked the Boston Daily Advertiser, was an eyewitness copyist at Gettysburg. His newspaper published a morning edition that differed from the AP version, and despite his careful account, the paper nevertheless introduced two unique errors to the text. The Daily Advertiser omitted the word “little” before “note” and changed “forget” to “forbid” in the line: “The world will [little] note nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forbid [forget] what they did here.”

Headlines from the Philadelphia Press, November 20, 1863.

Neither the Boston Daily Advertiser nor the Boston Evening Transcript used the AP’s text, because both papers correctly quoted Lincoln as saying the nation had “unfinished work” instead of the AP’s “refinished work.” However, it appears that the Evening Transcript used some of the morning paper’s copy, because while correctly printing the much more sensible “forget” in place of “forbid,” the afternoon paper still left out the word “little” in exactly the same place. Other than that, the text from these two competing newspapers is nearly exact, except for a few commas. Ultimately, the speed with which first-day printings were produced, as well as the vagaries of nineteenth-century communications, produced many slightly unique versions of Lincoln’s words.

In addition to the AP omission of the word “poor,” the phrase “We are met to dedicate” is recorded as “We have come to dedicate” in Lincoln’s written copies, and the words “carried on,” found here and in Lincoln’s second draft, were replaced by Lincoln with “advanced” in subsequent copies. The Philadelphia Enquirer version of the text, picked up by Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper contains variations of familiar lines, most notably in the final two sentences regarding the nation’s unfinished work and closing phrase of “Government of the people, for the people, and for all people” rather than the more familiar “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

What has come down as the standard version of the Address was compiled from Lincoln’s drafts, reports of what he spoke at the time, and later revisions made by Lincoln himself, who kept tinkering with the text. In the year after the speech, he wrote out three additional versions for charitable purposes using the newspaper reports and his own drafts. The Edward Everett copy was intended as a fundraiser for the New York Metropolitan Fair and is now at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. George Bancroft requested a copy to lithograph and sell at the Baltimore Sanitary Fair. Lincoln agreed, but his first attempt (today known as the Bancroft copy) lacked both a title and signature, and ran into the margins. It is now in the collection of Cornell University. Because its lack of margins made it impractical to reproduce, Lincoln penned a second copy with both title and signature. This, known as the Bliss copy after Bancroft’s stepson, is at the White House. All three of these later copies more closely approximate the words that Lincoln actually spoke at the cemetery dedication. What is now considered the standard text in history textbooks and on the wall of the Lincoln Memorial is the last copy—the Bliss version—with slightly different comma placement.

Visit our website to see rare copies of first day of publication newspapers and other documents and artifacts relating to Lincoln and Gettysburg.

Engravings of the battlefield and dedication ceremony, from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.

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Posted by on November 19, 2012 in General


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“We both hate Slavery & love Peace . . .”

On October 27, 1861 Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner wrote to Quaker peace advocate and abolitionist Joshua P. Blanchard.

“My dear Sir, I always read you writings with interest & sympathy. We are both arriving at the same results; for we both hate Slavery & love Peace…”

Sumner was a leading abolitionist, intimate of Lincoln, and radical republican. Before the Civil War, he joined the ranks of abolitionism’s martyrs when he was savagely attacked on the floor of the Senate by Congressman Preston Brooks because of remarks that Sumner made about Brooks’ relative, Senator Andrew Butler of South Carolina.

Blanchard was a Boston merchant who was active in the American Peace Society and American Anti-Slavery Society and was a frequent contributor to The Liberator and other publications. During the War of 1812 he was a conscientious objector and was tried in New York. He advocated mass conscientious objection during the Civil War and despite his moral objection to slavery wrote that the South had the legal right to secede.

See this letter, written 151 years ago today . . .

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Posted by on October 27, 2012 in General


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The Emancipation Proclamation

Tomorrow marks the start of the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. On September 22, 1862, President Lincoln issued the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation that gave the South 100 days to end the rebellion or face losing their slaves. True to his word, on January 1, 1863, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation immediately freeing nearly 50,000 slaves in Union-held areas of the Confederacy such as Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi and the Carolinas. The Proclamation also made the Union Army a force of liberation as it marched south, as well as ushering in the full participation of African American troops.

To celebrate this decisive moment in the quest for human freedom we have posted an essay on the history of the Emancipation Proclamation—from how it was drafted and promulgated, to the lasting effect it had on history.

We have also worked with the Fairfield Museum and History Center on their exhibit, Promise of Freedom: The Emancipation Proclamation, which includes Lincoln-signed copies of the Emancipation Proclamation and 13th Amendment, as well as other fascinating artifacts. The exhibition runs from September 23, 2012 to February 24, 2013.

Although we recently sold a rare Lincoln-signed Leland-Boker broadside of the Emancipation Proclamation, we still have a group of interesting items to offer:

  • A front-page New York newspaper printing of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, published September 23, 1862.
  • Five key issues of Harper’s Weekly from the period, including their publication of both the Preliminary and final Emancipation Proclamations.
  • A. H. Ritchie’s 1866 print, “First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation,” from Francis Bicknell Carpenter’s 1864 painting at the White House.
  • A six-month run of Britain’s Punch magazine from 1862, with numerous engravings showing Lincoln’s frustration at the war’s progress.
  • A first-day printing of the Emancipation Proclamation in the Providence Daily Journal, along with Frederick Douglass’s reaction to the announcement in the next day’s issue.
  • A Lincoln mourning broadside, with the Emancipation Proclamation printed in full.
  • A Currier and Ives print, “Lincoln and His Cabinet Discuss the Emancipation Proclamation,” that memorialized the Great Emancipator in time for the nation’s 1876 Centennial.
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Posted by on September 21, 2012 in General


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George McClellan Boxing with Robert E. Lee: Cartoon Celebrating the Union Victory at Antietam

This rare political cartoon celebrates the Union victory in the Battle of Antietam, by depicting the bloodbath as a boxing contest between Confederate General Robert E. Lee (labeled “Charles” Lee in reference to the Revolutionary War traitor) and Union General George McClellan. European leaders watch as Jefferson Davis exclaims “My Game is Up” and Abraham Lincoln encourages his champion to “Give him fits my darling!” The handlers are African Americans, and Lee appears ready to throw in the sponge. The printer is unspecified, but it was issued by Wilkes’ Spirit of the Times, a New York publication that appealed to upper class sports aficionados.

More details and a larger image are on our website.

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Posted by on September 17, 2012 in General


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Lincoln’s response to Greeley, printed on this day in 1862

The Confederate newspaper Richmond Whig printed Abraham Lincoln’s famous reply to New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley on the front page. Greeley’s August 20, 1862 letter, known as “The Prayer of Twenty Millions,” urged Lincoln to emancipate all the slaves in Union-held territory. Lincoln responded on August 22, declaring that his paramount goal was to save the Union—regardless of its effect on slavery—as well as his personal views that all men should be free.

“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.

I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.”

This letter is regularly cited as proof that Lincoln did not intend to abolish slavery, but unknown to Greeley and most Americans, Lincoln had already drafted the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation and was only waiting for a Union military victory to deliver it. Moreover, Lincoln makes a “divide and conquer” rhetorical move: he splits the issue, stating his constitutional duty as president is to keep the Union together, but simultaneously expressing his personal view of universal freedom.

The Richmond Whig is one of the less common—but still important—newspapers from the capital of the Confederacy.

In Four Years in Rebel Capitals: An Inside View of Life in the Southern Confederacy from Birth to Death, journalist T. C. DeLeon wrote that the Richmond Whig was among the South’s best wartime newspapers.

The Whig was allegedly involvement in a terror plot against New York City during the Civil War. The paper reputedly worked with the Confederate government to publish advertisements and editorials conveying secret messages to Southern sympathizers in the North. In October 1864, the Whig supposedly ran an editorial that signaled Southern supporters to set coordinated, widespread fires in New York, take over city and federal offices, and capture Major General John Adams Dix, the city’s military commander.

Read Lincoln’s letter, published 150 years ago today.

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Posted by on August 30, 2012 in General


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At the Second Battle of Bull Run, a Union General minimizes his defeat

‘We fought a terrific battle here yesterday with the combined forces of the enemy which lasted with continued fury from daylight until after dark, by which time the enemy was driven from the field, which we now occupy. . . . The enemy is still in our front, but badly used up. . . .’

Written on the final day of the Second Battle of Bull Run, Pope’s letter grossly exaggerates almost every aspect of the battle. Having underestimated the Confederate force, Pope either ignored or was unaware of the arrival of Confederate General James Longstreet’s forces. When Union troops attacked Stonewall Jackson’s troops on August 30, Confederate artillery crushed General Fitz John Porter’s corps and then Longstreet’s five divisions decimated the remainder of the Union force. Pope’s army was driven from the field in defeat.

Pope lost his command two weeks later, and blamed Porter, who was arrested, court martialed, and dismissed. Porter was exonerated by special commission in 1878.

Read Pope’s letter, published in a rare broadside 150 years ago today . . .

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Posted by on August 30, 2012 in General



In the news

Some of our highlight documents have been in the news recently:

The Emancipation Proclamation
Maine Antique Digest has published an article about our Lincoln-signed Emancipation Proclamation auction last month.

Thomas T. Eckert Civil War Telegraph Office Archive
Fine Books & Collections has an article on two major Civil War exhibitions coming this Fall at the Huntington Library, one of which features a selection from the Eckert Archive, which they acquired from us earlier this year.

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Posted by on August 6, 2012 in General


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