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Letter to Fanny McCullough, December 23, 1862

Considered one of the most beautiful and touching condolence letters of all time, this letter shows Lincolnís compassionate side. It was sent to Fanny McCullough, daughter of Lincolnís long-time friend, William McCullough. Serving as Lieutenant Colonel of the 4th Illinois Cavalry, McCullough was killed on December 5, 1862, near Coffeeville, Mississippi. His death left Fanny so distraught that her mental health was in jeopardy, and mutual friends asked Lincoln to send her this note. Fanny eventually found the happiness that Lincoln wished for her, marrying Frank D. Orme. She kept Lincolnís letter until her death in 1920, after which the letter was sold to a private collector for $60,000, the largest sum ever paid until that time for a Lincoln letter. Here are Lincolnís touching words:

Executive Mansion,

Washington, December 23, 1862.

Dear Fanny

It is with deep grief that I learn of the death of your kind and brave Father; and, especially, that it is affecting your young heart beyond what is common in such cases. In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares. The older have learned to ever expect it. I am anxious to afford some alleviation of your present distress. Perfect relief is not possible, except with time. You can not now realize that you will ever feel better. Is not this so? And yet it is a mistake. You are sure to be happy again. To know this, which is certainly true, will make you some less miserable now. I have had experience enough to know what I say; and you need only to believe it, to feel better at once. The memory of your dear Father, instead of an agony, will yet be a sad sweet feeling in your heart, of a purer and holier sort than you have known before.

Please present my kind regards to your afflicted mother.

Your sincere friend

A. Lincoln


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