Gilbert A. Tracy's "Uncollected Letters of Abraham Lincoln" brings upwards of three hundred and fifty letters written by Lincoln, together for the first time.
This selection, though not inclusive of all that Lincoln wrote of literary value, are representative of him as a man of letters, and undoubtedly include much of his finest work.
The letters, many of them of decided historical value, are rich in material which will delight any student of Lincoln.
They vividly illustrate the many-sided Abraham Lincoln:
The Great "Commoner"
The Loyal Friend
The Defender of the Weak
The Eloquent Lawyer
The Adroit Politician
The Temperate Statesman.
Many of his longest letters are here, but also some his shortest.
When in reply to an autograph collector he writes: "You request an autograph and here it is."
A young man who wishes to study law under him and Lincoln refers to a local "excellent lawyer (much better than I, in law-learning)" but advises the youth: "Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed, is more important than any one thing."
On the eve of his presidential nomination in 1860, he declines an invitation to deliver a lecture before the Harrison Literary Institute of Chicago: "I am not a professional lecturer. Have never got up but one lecture, and that I think rather a poor one."
Another human note is sounded when in July, 1864, the great president penned his thanks to a woman, who had passed the eighty-fourth year of life had given to the soldiers some three hundred pairs of stockings knitted by
He offered his services gratuitously to defend on a charge of murder the son of a widow from whose hands he had himself received various favors.
Instead of presenting a formal bill for his services, he once wrote: "I have news that we won our Gallatin and Saline county case. As the Dutch justice said when he married folks, 'Now vere ish my hundred tollers?'"
All in all, the letters include not only the human side of a great man, but many other writings which illustrate the man and his mind which will always have a special significance for our own time and value for the time to come.