LINCOLN, ABRAHAM, President. Letter signed ("A Lincoln") as President, to Deacon John Phillips of Sturbridge, Massachusetts; text in the hand of John G. Nicolay, Washington, D.C., 21 November 1864. 2 pages, 8vo, on Executive Mansion stationery, evenly browned, neatly silked, page 4 with a note by a descendant of the recipient.
PRESIDENT LINCOLN, JUST RE-ELECTED TO A SECOND TERM, THANKS A 104-YEAR-OLD REPUBLICAN FOR HIS VOTE
A famous expression of thanks, written the same day as the celebrated letter of condolence to the widow Bixby of Boston. Deacon Philips, at 104 years of age, had ridden to town on election day to cast his vote for Lincoln. In an account given Lincoln by one of the Deacon's neighbors, "he rode from home, two miles, to our Town Hall...to cast this vote. He entered it between two unfurled flags of his country, bearing on the the Stars and Stripes; all within, at the same time rising, with uncovered heads, to do him homage. And when offered two votes [ballots] to take his choice, he said 'I vote for Abraham Lincoln'" (quoted in Basler, 7:118).
Lincoln writes: "I have heard of the incident at the polls in your town, in which you bore so honored a part, and I take the liberty of writing to you to express my personal gratitude for the compliment paid me by the suffrage of a citizen so venerable. The example of such devotion to civic duties in one whose days have already extended an average life-time beyond the Psalmists' limit, cannot but be valuable and fruitful. It is not for myself only, but for the country which you have in your sphere served so long and so well, that I thank you..." Basler, 7:118 (with lengthy note).
On page four, the note from Phillips's grandson explains that Deacon Phillips "had voted in every presidential election since the adoption of the Constitution, with the exception of the 1860 election." Both this and the well-known letter to Mrs. Bixby of the same day, consoling her for the alleged loss of five sons in Union service, have been the object of recent speculation that they may have in fact been composed by John Hay, not by the President. See the persuasive study by Michael Burlingame, "New Light on the Bixby Letter," in Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association vol. 16, no. 1 (Winter 1995), pp. 59-71, especially fn. 45.