Note From Lincoln Found in Racist Book

Though he rejected the book's argument: curator

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 7, 2014 8:47 AM CDT

(Newser) – Abraham Lincoln perused a book of racist "science" before he was president and his note inside is proof, a museum says. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library confirms—by way of Lincoln's unusual style of writing the letters E and N—that one of the most popular Americans wrote an inscription inside a tattered copy of Types of Mankind, which has sat on a shelf at a small Illinois library for years. The book argues that different races were formed separately and thus African-Americans are not "fellow men," NBC Chicago reports, noting the argument was often used to justify slavery. Lincoln scribbled the name of the book's owner, Clifton Moore, inside the front cover but did not include his signature, the museum says.

So did the Great Emancipator buy the arguments he read? "Lincoln was worried that the whole idea that you could segregate one group of people based on some brand-new thinking would just carry on into other realms," a presidential library curator tells CBS Washington. "Everything we know about Lincoln's legal, religious, and scientific thinking tells us he rejected that argument." Though published in 1854, it isn't clear when Lincoln got his hands on the book. Below his inscription, however, is a note from a local attorney attesting to the fact that Lincoln wrote in the book in 1861, after he was elected president but before he left Illinois; some think it's possible he borrowed it to prepare for his presidential campaign. The Vespasian Warner Public Library eventually plans to put the book on display. (In other news, experts think they've identified a mysterious pen pal of Lincoln's.)

This undated photo shows what historical experts say is Abraham Lincoln's handwriting found inside a tattered book justifying racism.
This undated photo shows what historical experts say is Abraham Lincoln's handwriting found inside a tattered book justifying racism.   (AP Photo/Courtesy of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum)
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