An 1864 letter from Abraham Lincoln to Massachusetts schoolchildren fetched a record $3.4 million at auction yesterday, a record for an American manuscript, CNN reports. In the letter, Lincoln responded to a petition from 195 youngsters asking him to "free all the little slave children of this country" with a heartfelt reply saying it was God's will that they be freed. An anonymous American collector bought the letter.
Lincoln had already freed millions of slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation when the letter was written, but abolition was not complete until the Constitution was amended the following year. Twenty other Lincoln documents were in the collection auctioned at Sotheby's in New York, including pages from George Washington's diary and documents from Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.