Historians Solve Lincoln Mystery Letter to 'Dear Sir'
President asked ally to keep tabs on a possible supporter
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 9, 2014 5:10 PM CDT
Abraham Lincoln portrait, 1863.   (Wikimedia Commons)

(Newser) – A letter written by Abraham Lincoln is addressed only to "my dear Sir" and has a small section clipped out of it—but why? Researchers at the Papers of Abraham Lincoln project investigated the letter in which the president asks an ally to keep an eye on a possible supporter in the 1860 election, the AP reports. Lincoln asks the recipient to "keep up a correspondence" with a man whose name was cut out, because "I like to know his views occasionally." That phrase—"keep up a correspondence"—is what unraveled the mystery. Running the words through their searchable database, historians at the Papers of Abraham Lincoln identified the letter's recipient as one Leonard Swett.

That same phrase appeared in a previous letter Swett—an attorney and fellow Republican from Bloomington, Illinois—wrote Lincoln, in which Swett shared the details of his correspondence with "our friend TW of Albany." TW is likely Thurlow Weed, New York state political boss and Republican newspaper editor. Lincoln wanted Weed's backing in New York, but Weed preferred William Seward for the Republican nomination. Lincoln would end up winning Weed's support and making Seward secretary of state. "To be able to identify the date, recipient, and subject of such a brief letter is a remarkable achievement," said the director of the Papers project—where a half dozen volunteers are busy inputting nearly 200,000 documents into "aged computers" in Springfield, Illinois, the Chicago Tribune reports. (Click to read about another mysterious Lincoln letter.)

View 1 more image
More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
Historians Solve Lincoln Mystery Letter to 'My Dear Sir' is...
2%
66%
2%
23%
3%
5%
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Comments
Showing 3 of 30 comments
BrushMan
Mar 12, 2014 1:38 PM CDT
Over 16,000 books have been written about Abraham Lincoln, our greatest president. Many of these books either allude to or specifically report on Lincoln's ambiguous relationships with men. Lincoln lived with and shared a bed with Joshua Speed for four years, and they remained friends years after they no longer lived together. He also had a close relationship with Captain David Derickson, who would stay with Lincoln overnight at the Soldier's Home (a retreat from the White House) when Lincoln's wife Mary left town. There were reports of Captain Derickson wearing Lincoln's nightshirt, and Lincoln has been quoted as saying, with a "twinkle" in his eye, "The captain and I are getting quite thick."
Al Waishard
Mar 10, 2014 12:49 PM CDT
Liberal media collusion and malfeasance is nothing new.
Edgar
Mar 10, 2014 4:32 AM CDT
He was a Republican ! doesn`t that say it all ?