LINCOLN, Abraham. Autograph quotation signed ("A. Lincoln"), A KEY PASSAGE OF HIS SECOND INAUGURAL ADDRESS, written in the autograph album of Secretary of the Interior John P. Usher (1816-1889) of Indiana, which also contains inscriptions and signatures of Vice-President Andrew Johnson and 73 others including Mark Twain, four additional Presidents (U.S. Grant, Benjamin Harrison, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson), cabinet members, Senators and Congressmen, Army and Naval officers, [Washington, D.C.], n.d. [Lincoln's inscription undated, but ca. 4 March 1865].
8vo (9 3/8 x 5½ in.), Lincoln's inscription and signature on page  of the album, Andrew Johnson's directly below. THE ALBUM: 170 blank pages of good quality bond paper, gold-printed title-page reading "Autographs J.B. Lippincott & Co." (the glossy coating of that page oxidized as usual), bound in black morocco leather, covers with gilt and blind-tooled borders, "Autographs" in gilt decorative lettering in the center of each cover, spine richly gilt with dots, stars and small floral tools, page edges gilt, extremities rubbed, front cover detached.
"AND THE WAR CAME": A KEY PASSAGE FROM LINCOLN'S SUBLIME SECOND INAUGURAL ADDRESS
"Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war, rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came.
An album evidently begun by Secretary of the Interior Usher at the time of Lincoln's 1865 inauguration, containing the memorable passage by which Lincoln eloquently explains--in the simplest fashion possible--the clash of unyielding, irreconcilable ideologies which brought on "this terrible war." The Second Inaugural, which stands with the Gettysburg Address at the pinnacle of Lincoln's achievements as an orator, owes much to the events of the months which preceded its writing. By the summer of 1864, after three years of bloody war, the vast Union armies seemed hopelessly mired in the entrenchments before Petersburg. The war to preserve the Union seemed unwinnable in spite of recent, costly Union victories and the terrible toll of lives already exacted. It appeared to most observers--as it did to the President himself--that Lincoln had no chance of being re-elected to a second term. The Democratic party, capitalizing on the profound war-weariness of the Northern electorate, drafted a platform calling for peace "at the earliest possible moment," while talk of compromise on the issue of slavery and even acquiescence with secession itself was rampant.
By November, though, the situation had changed drastically. Sherman's armies had battered their way through Confederate defenses to take Atlanta, the symbolic heart of the South. Lincoln made several astute changes in the cabinet and worked diligently to rally his support in Congress and within the Republican party. On election day, November 8, with the votes of thousands of furloughed Union soldiers swelling the ballot returns, Lincoln won a sweeping victory, garnering 221 electoral votes to George McClellan's meager 21. Four months later, by the time of his inauguration, there were unmistakable signs that the Confederacy's strength was rapidly crumbling. The end of the war, it appeared, was finally in sight. It was, then, with a profound sense of thankfulness, tempered by a painful awareness of the horrific human suffering wrought by the war, an almost Biblical sense of the war as retribution for the sin of human slavery and a humbling sense of the magnitude of the task of reconstruction soon to face President and nation that Lincoln wrote his Second Inaugural Address, delivered from the east portico of the Capitol shortly after mid-day on 4 March 1865. Noah Brooks, the journalist who became close to Lincoln and was a witness, has left a famous account of the event:
[THIS AND FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH IN BOLD, INDENTED SLIGHTLY]
There was a sea of heads in the great plaza in front of the Capitol, as far as the eye could reach, and breaking in waves along its outer edges among the budding foliage of the grounds beyond. When the President and the procession of notables appeared, a tremendous shout, prolonged and loud, arose from the surging ocean of humanity around the Capitol building...Abraham Lincoln, rising tall and gaunt among the groups about him, stepped forward and read his inaugural address...As he advanced from his seat, a roar of applause shook the air, and, again and again repeated, finally died away on the outer fringe of the throng, like a sweeping wave upon a shore. Just at that moment, the sun, which had been obscured all day, burst forth in its unclouded meridian splendor, and flooded the spectacle with glory and with light. Every heart beat quicker at the unexpected omen
The inaugural address was received in a most profound silence. Every word was clear and audible as the ringing and somewhat shrill tones of Lincoln's voice sounded over the vast concourse. There was applause, however, at the words "both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish"; and the cheer that followed these words lasted long enough to make a considerable pause before he added sententiously, "and the war came." There were occasional spurts of applause, too, at other points along this wonderful address...There were many cheers and many tears as this noble address was concluded.
(Noah Brooks, Washington in Lincoln's Time, ed. Herbert Mitgang, 1958, pp.214-215.)
The Second Inaugural is justly regarded as a masterpiece. Taut, spare, bare of ornament or obvious rhetorical flourishes, it possesses "an emotional urgency entirely expressed in calm abstractions (fire in ice)" (G. Wills). Less than one-fifth the length of Lincoln's first Inaugural, it "ranks in its eloquence and its evocation of the meaning of this war with the Gettysburg Address" (James McPherson, Lincoln and the Second American Revolution, 1991, p.186). Gary Wills, in his searching exegesis of Lincoln's most famous address, Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America (1992), devotes an entire epilogue (entitled "The Other Address") to a careful consideration of the Second Inaugural, noting that "the Gettysburg Address, weighty as it is with Lincoln's political philosophy, failed to express the whole of Lincoln's mind" and "must be supplemented with his other most famous address, the Second Inaugural." Wills contends that the Second Inaugural "complements and completes the Gettysburg Address"; of Lincoln's many well-known addresses, he writes, the Second Inaugural "is the only speech worthy to stand with" the Gettysburg Address."
In an age when Presidential inaugural addresses often lasted up to two hours, the extreme brevity of Lincoln's Second Inaugural must have been disconcerting to many, and initially, in spite of the crowd's applause, Lincoln had the impression that the address had not been well received. But in a letter dated 15 March to Thurlow Weed, who had praised the speech, Lincoln wrote that he expected it in time "to wear as well as--perhaps better than--anything I have produced; but I believe it is not immediately popular. Men are not flattered by being shown that there has been a difference of opinion between the Almighty and them. To deny, it however, in this case, is to deny that there is a God governing the world. It is a truth which I thought needed to be told; and as whatever of humiliation there is in it, falls most directly on myself, I thought others might afford me to tell it."
Inscriptions and signatures on 41 pp. (mostly rectos only). CABINET, including former Sec. of Treasury Salmon P. Chase ("Freedom defended by the suffrage of all free men:"), Sec. of Interior John P. Usher, Sec. of State William H. Seward, Sec. of War Edwin M. Stanton, Sec. of Navy Gideon Wells, Advocate General J. Holt, Attorney General James Speed, Treasurer Francis A. Spinner, Postmaster General W. Dennison; SENATE AND HOUSE, including: Charles Sumner ("the sacred animosity between Freedom & Slavery can terminate only in the triumph of Freedom"), John Sherman, George W. Childs, J. Collamer, Henry Clay (clipped signature); MILITARY, including William T. Sherman, Gustavus Vasa Fox, George Dewey, David G. Farragut, George G. Meade, W.S. Rosecrans, Philip D. Sheridan, David Hunter, Lew Wallace, Lorenzo Thomas; and some later additions including Mark Twain ("Last of all came Satan also"), T. Ewing ("the Union is restored and we have peace"), Thomas Edison, Josephus Daniels, etc.
CENSUS OF MANUSCRIPTS OF LINCOLN'S SECOND INAUGURAL ADDRESS
1. Autograph manuscript signed, the final draft, given to John Hay on 10 April 1865. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
2. Autograph letter signed to Amanda Hall, 20 March 1865, incorporating transcript of the opening passage "Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray-that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled up by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as it was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said: 'The judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous together," Basler 8:367. Illinois State Library, Springfield, Illinois.
3. Autograph transcript signed of the last paragraph ("With malice towards none; with charity for all...") in the autograph album of Caroline R. Wright, wife of the Governor of Indiana (sold Christie's, 20 November 1992, lot 283, $1.32 million), private collection.
4. Autograph transcript of the passage "Both parties deprecated war..." In the autograph album of John P. Usher, as described here.
5. Autograph transcript signed of the last paragraph ("With malice toward none; with charity for all..."). Reportedly owned by descendant of John P. Usher, present whereabouts unknown.
1. John P. Usher (1816-1889), Secretary of the Interior (appointed 1863). Usher and most members of Lincoln's cabinet attended the Inaugural Ball on the evening of March 4, which was held in the Usher's Interior Department building, and it is entirely possible that Usher offered his autograph album to Lincoln and other signers during that event.
2. David C. Brooks, a nephew of the above. Inside the front cover is a decorative inscription: "To David C. A. Brooks From his Mother Most of these Autographs were obtained when my Uncle John P.Usher, was Secretary of the Interior in President Lincoln's Cabinet 1865."
3. Anonymous owner, (sale, Charles Hamilton Galleries, 10 April 1980, lot 126).