Just in time for Presidents Day: A previously unknown, newly discovered letter written by Abraham Lincoln a year before his death has been found buried in a family safety deposit box. Its value? That would be $80,000, according to the Raab Collection, a dealer in important historical documents. The letter fits in that category. The paper is a pale sepia tone, the handwriting precise and elegant. The message is written on “Executive Mansion” stationary. Lincoln predicts that his re-election in 1864 would lead to a “glorious” victory for the Union in the Civil War.
His victory was not certain that year, but the course of the election changed after a series of battlefield victories. Lincoln defeated his Democratic opponent, Gen. George B. McClellan, the president’s former commander of the Army of the Potomac, by over a half-million votes and 191 electoral votes. He also had the support of 78 percent of Union soldiers. But on to the letter, dated Dec. 9, 1864:
“Much credit is due, from the loyal people of the United States, to such patriotic associations as that over which you presided, during the late presidential campaign, for the faithfulness and constancy with which they severally labored to bring about a result which, as we hope, will be as valuable and glorious to the future of this nation as it was truly gratifying and flattering to my own feelings,” Lincoln wrote to William Dixon, a local tax official who had congratulated the president on his electoral victory.
“It is rare to find such a great, unknown historical gem signed by President Lincoln. It gives us unique insight into Lincoln’s mind after his historic re-election during the Civil War,” says Karen Pearlman Raab, spokesman for the dealer.
The letter was discovered by the direct descendants of William Dixon, and has never been offered for sale. It’s also a teachable moment. Check those forgotten safe deposit boxes, folks, and maybe that old desk in the attic. You just never know.
“Life is a campaign. Making our country great again is a campaign. For me, to make America great again is absolutely a campaign. It’s not easy, especially when we’re also fighting the press.”
— President Trump, during a philosophical moment with journalists aboard Air Force One on Saturday
BRITS QUARREL OVER TRUMP
Americans are thinking about presidents on Monday. And so are the British.
The House of Commons will stage a debate to determine whether President Trump’s state visit to the United Kingdom later this year should be canceled.
Prime Minister Theresa May herself extended the cordial invitation, and has rejected a public petition to bar Mr. Trump from paying a call. Others are opposed, including Speaker John Bercow, who insists a state visit is an “earned honor,” and Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is troubled by what he calls Mr. Trump’s “Muslim ban.”
And so they will debate, while the British press frames the disagreement as an embarrassment for Ms. May. Ever-fearless C-SPAN will carry the proceedings live Monday; see the Brits in action at 11:30 a.m. EST.
SEEKING A MOTTO
The nation’s third political parties are already busy preparing for the 2018 midterms. The Green Party, the new People’s Party made up of Sen. Bernard Sanders‘ fans, and even an emerging “liberal tea party” are hoping to scoop up disappointed Democrats in the near future.
The Libertarian Party, meanwhile, is asking their flock to come up with a motto for their upcoming national convention in June, to be selected by popular vote among the followers. The themes for the past five years reflect an evolving party, perhaps. They are: “A Better Choice for America,” followed by “Gateway to Liberty,” “Liberty Will Win,” “Character Matters” and “Legalize Freedom.”
“Our 2018 Libertarian Party National Convention will be held June 30 to July 3 in New Orleans,” says Wes Benedict, executive director of the party, eager to expand its ranks before 2018 dawns.
MEANWHILE, OVER AT MOUNT VERNON
It is a tricky business to craft proper celebrations to honor a president while still engaging the easily bored, heavily distracted public. That is a daily challenge for Mount Vernon, which graciously hits the mark with ease. Here’s how George Washington’s ancestral home will celebrate Presidents Day.
On tap: “Pose Like the Prez” selfies, which allows the public to strike Washington’s heroic pose in painter Gilbert Stuart’s iconic “Lansdowne” portrait of the first president. A life-size copy of the painting is used as a backdrop, with colonial garb and appropriate props at the ready — swords included. Posers must take their own selfies, however. The results are endearing and social media-ready; the Twitter hashtag #PoseLikethePrez is involved.
Mount Vernon also offers a tribute to Washington and a solemn wreath-laying, an open house in Washington’s personal library, visits from historic impersonators of the era, hickory syrup tastings, a musical salute and complementary birthday cake with “General Washington.”
POLL DU JOUR
• 49 percent of Americans say “illegal Mexican immigrants” pose a national security risk; 80 percent of Republicans and 27 percent of Democrats agree.
• 40 percent of Americans overall say “Syrian refugees” pose a security risk; 71 percent of Republicans and 18 percent of Democrats agree.
• 40 percent overall say “Muslim tourists” pose a risk; 64 percent of Republicans and 23 percent of Democrats agree.
• 25 percent overall say “legal foreign students” pose a risk; 42 percent of Republicans and 13 percent of Democrats agree.
• 23 percent overall say “legal foreign workers” pose a risk; 42 percent of Republicans and 12 percent of Democrats agree.
• 22 percent overall say “legal foreign tourists” pose a risk; 35 percent of Republicans and 13 percent of Democrats agree.
Source: An Economist/YouGov poll of 1,500 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 12-14.
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