LINCOLN, Abraham, President. Autograph manuscript, A SPEECH OF WELCOME AS PRESIDENT, delivered on the occasion of the reception of Luis Molina, Minister Plenipotentiary of Nicaragua, [Washington, D.C.], dated in pencil at top in an unknown hand "16 March, 1861."
1 pages, folio, 331 x 212 mm., originally folded three times horizontally (so as to fit into a coat pocket), blue morocco folding protective case. IN FINE CONDITION. Boldly and clearly penned, in the especially large and carefully legible hand which Lincoln habitually employed for copies of speeches he intended to deliver or read directly from the manuscript. With a 1919 ALS of Robert Todd Lincoln (1843-1926) presenting the manuscript (see below).
LINCOLN'S READING MANUSCRIPT OF A PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH OF WELCOME TO A SOUTH AMERICAN ENVOY
One of a very few Lincoln speech drafts or fragments of speech drafts which are not today part of the Lincoln Papers in the Library of Congress, deposited by Robert Todd Lincoln in 1919 (the same year he gave the present manuscript to a friend). There are few speech manuscripts of any type in other libraries and fewer still in private hands, other than small fragments from the Message to Congress, 1864, dismembered by the printer and surviving in scattered small fragments. Relatively little manuscript material survives to document Lincoln's oratorical gifts.
Foreign relations constitute an aspect of Lincoln's Presidential duties which is usually relegated to the background by most historians in order to focus, understandably, on his more momentous role as Commander-in-Chief and as Chief Executive during the crisis of the Civil War. But, as directed by the Constitution, it was the responsibility of the President, with Secretary of State Stanton, to receive and grant official recognition to the credentials of foreign ambassadors and ministers maintaining relations with the nation. Throughout the war, along with the important matters relating to the conduct of the war, the military situation, Congressional politics and a multitude of domestic affairs, Lincoln continued to conduct these official diplomatic ceremonies. These were occasions of considerable formality, which required a brief address of acknowledgement and welcome by the President, particularly when the diplomat in question held the highest rank, that of Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary, as in the present case of Molina of Nicaragua.
The manuscript, clearly a draft, includes one complete sentence which Lincoln deleted and rewrote at the end of the speech, and contains one deleted word (an error in transcription). It reads: "Mr. Molina I am happy to receive the Letters [of credence] you present, and to recognize you, Sir, as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Nicaragua, near the United States. In conferring a higher rank upon you, as a token of regard, on the part of the Government and the people of Nicaragua towards this country, they have done our Government and our people, an honor for which we are duly grateful; while they have also manifested an increased confidence in you, which we can attest, is deserved; and thereby, have done you a distinguished honor, upon which we congratulate you."
"On behalf of the United States I fully reciprocate, towards your Government and people, the kind wishes, and friendly purposes, you so generously express towards ours." [Next sentence lined through by Lincoln and re-written as the last sentence of the address.]
"Please communicate to His Excellency, the President of Nicaragua, my high esteem and consideration, and my earnest wish for his health, happiness and long life. Be assured, Sir, I do not allow myself to doubt that your public duties and social intercourse here will be so conducted as to be entirely acceptable to the Government and people of the United States."
The relative rarity of this type of Lincoln manuscript, a speech or fragment, may be gauged by a brief record of the few examples offered at auction since 1980:
1. Fragment, the peroration of an address on the inevitability of abolition, 1858. Given by Robert Todd Lincoln to an admirer (Sold at Christie's, 1996, $450,000).
2. Fragment, leaf from the "House Divided" address (sale, Sotheby's 1992, $1,440,000).
3. Quotation, from the Second Inaugural Address ("With malice towards none"). Written in the autograph book of Caroline Wright, 1865. (Sale, Christie's, 1992, $1,200,000).
4. Fragment, leaf on slavery, 1857-59 (sale, Sotheby's, 1992, $900,000).
5. Quotation, passage from 1863 Annual Message, regarding emancipation (sale, Christie's, 1992, $420,000).
6. Fragment, notes for Hartford Address, 2pp. (sale, Sotheby's 1981, $16,000).
7. Speech, full text of last Address, 11 April 1865 (sale, Doyle, 1984, $210,000).
8. Quotation, passage from Second Inaugural Address "Both parties deprecated war..." (sale, Hamilton, 1980, $13,000).
LINCOLN, Robert Todd. Autograph letter signed ("Robert T. Lincoln") to Isaac Markens in New York; Washington, D.C., 20 May 1919. 1 page, 8vo, personal stationery. "Dear Mr. Markens, I am enclosing to you a piece of Lincoln autograph mss which is not exciting but is characteristic. It was no doubt held in President Lincoln's hand when making the address to Mr. Molina, the newly accredited Minister to the United States on March 16th 1861. Please accept it with my compliments"
Provenance: Abraham Lincoln, retained with his Presidential Papers collected from the White House in the wake of his death, 1865; Robert Todd Lincoln, son of the above, by descent; Isaac Markens of 554 West 164th Street, New York, gift of the above (see letter above); the present owner