LINCOLN, Abraham. Autograph letter signed ("A. Lincoln") as President, to Hon. W.B. Thomas, Executive Mansion, Washington, D.C., 19 March 1864. 1 page, 8vo, on Executive Mansion letterhead, integral blank, very slight fold separations, otherwise in fresh condition, with a very fine signature.
A PRESIDENTIAL LETTER TO BENEFIT THE PHILADELPHIA SANITARY FAIR
"My dear Sir, Below is an auto- graph for the Sanitary Fair as you request. Yours truly A. Lincoln."
Early in the war, several charitable groups merged to form the Women's Central Association for Relief, whose primary goal was to raise the hygienic standards of the military camps being established across the nation, and to provide needed medicines, clothing, bedding and other necessities to the thousands of wounded soldiers: "to do for the soldiers what the government did not do" (Boatner). Many across the North became active in the organization as the war progressed and casualties multiplied, and a number of high-profile "Sanitary Fairs" were held in different cities. One method employed to raise money was the sale of letters, signatures and facsimiles of a patriotic nature.
Thomas was a wealthy Philadelphia flour manufacturer and abolitionist, and was appointed collector of the customs at the port of Philadelphia in April 1861. In October 1863, when it appeared Washington was menaced by Confederates, Thomas wrote Lincoln and offered to raise, on short notice, an additional 10,000 men to help defend the capital. Lincoln declined (see Basler 6:525). The present letter is not in Basler or Supplements.