Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Abraham Lincoln Collection, 1856-1902

Finding aid created by
Christopher Tounsel, July 2010, and Shannon Wait, March 2011

Summary Information
Title: Abraham Lincoln collection
Creator: William L. Clements Library
Inclusive dates: 1856-1902
Bulk dates: 1856-1865
Extent: 26 items
The Abraham Lincoln collection contains 15 letters and documents written by Lincoln and 11 letters concerning Lincoln or the Lincoln family.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

M-816 et al.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Alternate Format:

Nine of the letters have been printed in the following eight-volume work: Lincoln, Abraham, and Roy Prentice Basler. Collected Works: The Abraham Lincoln Association. Springfield, Illinois. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953.

Preferred Citation:

Abraham Lincoln Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The items are arranged chronologically, with undated items at the end.


Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809-April 15, 1865) was born near Hodgenville, Kentucky, the son of carpenter and farmer Thomas Lincoln and his wife, Nancy Hanks. In 1816, the family moved to Indiana, where Nancy died in 1818. The next year, after returning to Kentucky, Thomas Lincoln married a widow, Sarah Bush Johnson, who encouraged young Abraham's intellectual pursuits. The Lincolns then moved to New Salem, Illinois, where Lincoln joined a debate society and began his political career. After an unsuccessful run for the Illinois legislature in 1832, he was elected as a Whig in 1834, 1836, 1838, and 1840. In 1842, he married Mary Todd (1818-1882), with whom he had four children: Robert, Edward, William, and Thomas ("Tad"), of whom only Robert survived to adulthood. After serving a term in the U.S. House of Representatives (1847-1849) and developing his law practice, Lincoln returned to politics in opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 and made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate. In 1856, he assisted in the creation of the Republican Party and campaigned on behalf of presidential candidate John C. Fremont. In 1859, he again ran for the U.S. Senate, participating in the famed Lincoln-Douglas debates against Democratic candidate Stephen A. Douglas, but the Illinois legislature selected Douglas for the seat. In 1860 and 1864, Lincoln was elected President of the United States, and he led the Union through the Civil War until he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth on April 15, 1865.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Abraham Lincoln collection contains 26 items by or pertaining to Abraham Lincoln, and spanning 1856 to 1902, with the bulk of materials concentrated in the years 1856 to 1865. See the "Detailed Box and Folder Listing" for an inventory of the items.

Subject Terms

    • Dana, Charles A. (Charles Anderson), 1819-1897.
    • Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865--Death and burial.
    • United States. Army. New York Infantry Regiment, 69th (1861-1865)
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • United States presidents.
    • Kearny, Philip, 1815-1862.
    • Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
    • Seward, William Henry, 1801-1872.
    Genre Terms:
    • Ephemera.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   1  
    Abraham Lincoln collection, 1856-1902, bulk  1861-1865 [series]
      [ca. 1845?] [Abraham] Lincoln and [William Henry] Herndon ADS (2 pages)
    Directions for legal research relating to a case between Robert Allen and the "Post-Office Department." Examine records to determine if Allen was "a contractor for the transportation of the mail on any route or routes, other than route No. 2701." Determine if there is any "receipt, paper, or entry purporting to be signed by Robert Allen, showing that there has ever been a final settlement between said Allen and said Department." Requests copies of documents, contracts, and papers relating to Allen's authority in the Springfield post office and its debts to him since January 1, 1841. Donated by Peggy Harrington, from the collection of Kevin Harrington, 2014.
      1850 April Term [Abraham] Lincoln and [William Henry] Herndon ADS (3 pages)
    Legal document relating to the case of Bale v. Wright & Hickox. Abraham Bale accuses Asa D. Wright and Virgil Hickox of owing $1,000 for wheat. " … the said defendants (although often requested so to do) have not as yet paid to the said plaintiff the said sum of money or any part thereof." Includes a copy of the account in question, from February 7, 1850. Requests for the Menard County Circuit Court clerk to issue a summons for Wright and Hickox. Filed February 19, 1850. Donated by Peggy Harrington, from the collection of Kevin Harrington, 2014.
      1856 April 9 . Abraham Lincoln and John T. Stuart DS; MacLean County, Illinois. (1 page)
    Legal document to postpone malpractice case Fleming v. Crothers and Rogers (the famed "Chicken Bone Case") until Eli K. Rogers is well enough to attend the trial. With revisions in the hand of Abraham Lincoln. Donated by Robert E. Heltzel in honor of Michael L. Hardy, Donald J. Dawson, Jr., and Joseph D. Lonardo.
      1856 August 21 . Abraham Lincoln ALS to Hezekiah G. Wells; Springfield, Illinois. (1 page)
    "I will be with you on the 27th I suppose I can reach in time, leaving Chicago the same morning."
      1860 June 10 . Abraham Lincoln ALS to John A. Dahlgren; Executive Mansion [Washington, D.C.]. (1 page)
    Asking Dahlgren's thoughts about "Mr. Blunt's new gun," and whether the government should purchase some of them.
      1861 July 15 . Abraham Lincoln ALS. (1 page)
    Expresses pleasure at the loyalty and valor of the New York 69th Regiment.
      1861 July 15 . William H. Seward ALS to B.O. Reilly; State Department [Washington, D.C.]. (2 pages)    [Note: attached to Lincoln's July 15, 1861 letter]
    "I have received for the Secretary of War [Simon Cameron] the explanations which do justice to the whole matter General Scott has also written to Col. Sherman." Reiterates Lincoln's statement that "the 69th will prove … as brave and loyal men."
      1861 July 23 . William H. Seward ANS. (1 page)    [Note: attached to Lincoln's July 15, 1861 letter]
    "We think the safety of the Country and the honor of the service require the 69th to review contents in their camp and defend the fortifications … We shall … bear full testimony to the gallantry … of the 69th."
      1861 September 3 . Philip Kearny ALS to Abraham Lincoln; Headquarters, N[ew] Jersey Brigade "Seminary." (1 page)
    Recommends Captain Moritz Pinner for the position of Quartermaster on his staff. Pinner is "a former officer in the Prussian Service to that position." Assures the President that he would be the right man for the job.
      1861 September 3 . Abraham Lincoln ANS to Philip Kearny. (1 page)    [Note: on back of Kearny's September 3, 1861 letter]
    Obliges Kearny's requests that Pinner be appointed Quartermaster for his staff.
      1861 January 1 . Abraham Lincoln ALS to George B. McClellan; Executive Mansion [Washington, D.C.]. (1 page)
    Lincoln has heard that "the doings of an Investigating Committee, gives you some uneasiness. You may be entirely relieved on this point." He points out that "As their investigation brings them acquaintances with facts, they are rapidly coming to think of the whole case as all sensible men would."
    Folder   : Oversize Manuscripts  
      1862 January 28 . Abraham Lincoln and Edward Stanton partially printed DS to William Warner. (1 page)
    Appointment of William Warner as a commissioner for handling allotment certificates for Civil War soldiers from the state of Michigan.
    Box   1  
      1862 July 21 . Abraham Lincoln ALS to George B. McClellan; War Department, Washington City, D.C. (1 page)
    "I hope to be able to tell you on Thursday, what is to be done with Burnside."
      1862 October 16 . Document. (1 page)
    Certificate of discharge for N.L. Christ.
      1862 November 6 . Abraham Lincoln ALS to Gideon Welles; Executive Mansion, Washington, [D.C.]. (3 pages)
    Lists ideas for the chartering, purchasing, and dispatching of vessels in order to "pursue the enemy, exhibit your authority only when all but necessity requires it." Lincoln inquired concerning what the government would pay for the capture of a "Secesh" vessel, to which "I could not answer [and] so refer the question to the Sec. of the Navy [Welles]."
      1863 June 10 . Abraham Lincoln ALS Joseph Hooker. (1 page)    [Note: Original housed in the "Gold Star Collection."]
    Prescribes strategy against Lee's Northern invasion.
      1863 August 29 . Abraham Lincoln ANS. (1 page)    [Note: on the back of the Discharge of N.L. Christ from October 16, 1862]
    "This man wants employment, and I shall be glad if it can be given him."
      1863 September 18 . Abraham Lincoln DS; Executive Mansion, Washington, D.C. (1 page)
    Assigns 2,270 "as the first proportional part of the quota of troops to be furnished by the Tenth district of the State of New York." He also orders a draft to be made in that district.
      1863 November 19 . Joseph Holt ALS to Abraham Lincoln; Judge Advocate General's Office, Washington, [D.C.]. (4 pages)    [Note: attached to Lincoln's April 27, 1864 ANS]
    Concerning the case of a chaplain, the Rev. C.H. Powell, who was dishonorably discharged; the chaplain asks "to be restored to his position; or, if this is not granted him to be honorably discharged from the service."
      1864 February 10 . Abraham Lincoln ANS to Edwin M. Stanton. (1 page)
    "Sec. of War, please see Col. Alger, who has come up on our instruction in regard to the proclamation." Regarding his December 8, 1863 proclamation [inclosed in the folder] concerning conditions under which someone may or may not be pardoned, issues relating to Southern state governments, and freed slaves.
    Folder   : Oversize Manuscripts  
      1864 July 4 . Abraham Lincoln and Edward Stanton DS to Orrin E. Davis. (1 page)
    Appointment of Orrin E. Davis as First Lieutenant in the Eighteenth Regiment of Infantry.
    Box   1  
      1864 September 21 . A[braham] Lincoln ANS. (1 page)    [Note: From the Stinchfield family papers.]
    Respecting a furlough request, presumed to be fore George Stinchfield (1840-1877). "This man wants a furlough, and I ask a fair hearing for him on the question."
      [1864] . Document. (2 pages)
    2 campaign envelopes. One envelope includes "Union Party Platform" on backside, and the other depicts Lincoln and [Jefferson] Davis fighting for the "Champion Belt."
      1865 February 9 . A.O. Aldis ALS to Jacob Collamer; St. Alban's. (3 pages)    [Note: attached to Lincoln's February 17, 1865 ANS]
    Discusses his esteem for H.K. Burgwyn and his son, who assisted Aldis's family in caring for his sick daughter. Burgwyn's son was taken prisoner, and his father writes that his Northern relatives want to see him; he needs to obtain "a parole for that purpose." Aldis has reached out to Collamer because Burgwyn believes that Judge Collamer's application would greatly assist in getting a parole from Lincoln.
      1865 February 17 . Abraham Lincoln ANS. (1 page.)
    Regarding Capt. Burgwyn's parole; "Let … Burgwyn be paroled in the war that Senator Collamer may ask."
      1865 April 17 . James Tanner AMsS to Henry F. Walch; Ordnance Office, War Department, Washington, D.C. (10 pages total.)    [Note: Original housed in the "Gold Star Collection."]
    Written in Pitman shorthand, with a contemporary translation. Tanner describes the final hours and last moments of Abraham Lincoln's life.
      1865 April 19 . Document. (3 pages.)    [Note: From the George William Taylor papers]
    Printed card admitting bearer to the Executive's Mansion Green Room; endorsed envelope states that this is for the purpose of viewing Lincoln's remains. Also includes badge commemorating his life; "A nation mourns the departed Patriot, Statesman, and Martyr, Born Feb. 12th, 1809, Died April 15th, 1865."
      1902 June 4 . John T. Hanks MsL to George B. Ayers; Canyonville, Douglas County, Oregon. (1 page)
    Regarding his personal ties to Abraham Lincoln; "I would say I have known Abraham Lincoln since childhood in Illinois--Lincoln and my father congregated from Indiana to Illinois together." Written by M.N. Colvin because Hanks "is old and his eyesight--not good."
      n.d. Laura Richards ALS to Mary Todd Lincoln; 274 F Street. (2 pages)    [Note: attached to Lincoln's undated ANS]
    Shares that her family is in much need of support since the death of her husband. "I am inclined to ask from you, the position of clerk in one of the departments for my eldest son."
      n.d. Abraham Lincoln ANS. (1 page)
    Acknowledges that letter is written by the widow of his former physician, Dr. Richards, and obliges her request that her son be made a department clerk.
    Additional Descriptive Data

    McPherson, James M.. "Lincoln, Abraham." In American National Biography, 2000.