Skip to main content

Not The Bixby Letter

February 2024
1min read

Many people erroneously believe that the well-known facsimile of the letter (often printed on thick, yellowed “parchment” paper) is ample proof of Lincoln’s own authorship. A close examination, however, of the writing in the Bixby facsimile shows flaws when compared with authentic examples from President Lincoln—the handwriting in the Bixby facsimile is far too legible, slow, and hesitant to match Lincoln’s naturally sloppy script. Decades after Lincoln’s death two people copyrighted their own “versions” of the Bixby letter in an attempt to capitalize on its continuing popularity. The first copyright was obtained in 1891 by Michael F. Tobin, a dealer in prints, and the second one was made in 1904 by the Huber Museum. Thus the existence of these posthumously produced forgeries is not proof that Lincoln authored the original letter.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.