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Not The Bixby Letter

February 2024
1min read


I agree with Burlingame that the cadences and word choices of the Bixby letter do not seem entirely Lincolnian. I prefer a letter, less well known, that he wrote to a twelve-year-old girl whose father had died in battle. The language and the sentiment are unmistakably Lincoln’s own:

Executive Mansion
Washington, December 23, 1862

Dear Fanny,

It is with deep grief that I learn of the death of your kind and brave Father; and, especially that it is affecting your young heart beyond what is common in such cases. In this sad world of ours, sorrow conies to all; and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares. The older have learned to ever expect it. I am anxious to afford some alleviation of your present distress. Perfect relief is not possible, except with time. You can not now realize that you will ever feel better. Is not this so? And yet it is a mistake. You are sure to be happy again. To know this, which is certainly true, will make you some less miserable now. I have had experience enough to know what I say; and you need only to believe it, to feel better at once. The memory of your dear Father, instead of an agony, will yet be a sad sweet feeling in your heart, of a purer, and holier sort than you have known before.

Please present my kind regards to your afflicted mother.

Your sincere friend

A. LINCOLN

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