Title Reviewed:
Abraham Lincoln & the Widow Bixby

Author Reviewed:
F. Lauriston Bullard

[Author Unknown]


Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 200-201

Article Type:
Book Review

Download Source:

Abraham Lincoln & the Widow Bixby. By F. Lauriston Bul-lard. (New Brunswick, New Jersey, Rutgers University Press, 1946, pp. xiii, 154. $3.00.)

The minuteness and intensity of the interest in Abraham Lincoln is demonstrated by the publication of this small volume about a letter which some have felt was not a genuine Lincoln letter. It also reveals the fascination which some privileged people find in history by studying the evidence on all phases of one of its unsolved problems and by trying to reach a tenable conclusion about it. It is a detective story about a famous American, a story which will repay many different types of readers for their attention.

The letter which has received so much attention was one which President Lincoln wrote to a widowed mother who was thought to have lost five sons in the federal armies during the Civil War. It was a beautifully worded condolence. The quality of the letter is not lessened by the discoveries that only two of the sons were killed in action, that one was honorably discharged, and that two may have been deserters.

The author clears away the misstatements about the letter, presents the ascertainable facts about the mother to whom the letter was written, and shows that Nicolay and Hay considered that it was bona fide. He rejects the idea that John Hay wrote it for Lincoln as has been suggested. Furthermore, he believes that Hay could not have composed the letter for Lincoln but admits that he cannot prove the point conclusively. Fascimiles that have been manufactured and sold he, together with John Hay, regards as forgeries.

The book is an enjoyable piece of reading, which reveals a little of the depth of Lincoln's character.

Published by theĀ Indiana University Department of History.