Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln ALS Likely Regarding Emancipation

Abraham Lincoln ALS Likely Regarding Emancipation

Single page autograph letter signed, 4.75" x 7.5", on Executive Mansion letterhead. Dated "May 5, 1864", and signed by President Lincoln as "A. Lincoln". Presented matted, framed and glazed in a taupe mat, with spectacular fillets and a brown and silver frame. Framed dimensions of 20" by 17.5"



Complete transcript shown below:


"Hon. Jno A.J. Creswell

My dear Sir

I shall be pleased to receive the gentleman named at 2 P.M. today.

Yours truly,



It is unclear from President Lincoln’s statement whether he intended to meet with Congressman John A. J. Creswell or with someone Creswell recommended. If Lincoln met with Congressman Creswell, it was likely to discuss the progress of the constitutional convention and prospects for emancipation in Maryland. Throughout the Spring of 1864, Lincoln had worked with Creswell to encourage the abolition of slavery in Maryland, while ensuring that the state remained committed to the Union. Lincoln’s own Postmaster General, Montgomery Blair of Maryland, opposed both radical abolitionists and emancipation in Maryland. On March 7, Lincoln wrote to Creswell, “I am very anxious for emancipation to be effected in Maryland in some substantial form. I think it probable that my expressions of a preference for gradual over immediate emancipation, are misunderstood. I had thought the gradual, would produce less confusion and destitution; and therefore would be more satisfactory; but if those who are better acquainted with the subject, and are more deeply interested in it, prefer the immediate, most certainly I have no objection to their judgment prevailing. My wish is that all who are for emancipation in any form, shall co-operate, all treating all respectfully, and all adopting and acting upon the major opinion, when fairly ascertained.”


However research also shows in the diary of one of Lincoln’s secretaries, John Hay, it is indicated that later that day/evening, Lincoln met with Congressmen Green Clay Smith (1826-1895) of Kentucky and James M. Ashley (1824-1896) of Ohio, with perhaps this letter alluding to their meeting. They may have been present to discuss the prospects for emancipation in Kentucky, though the conversation “drifted into politics” and specifically the coming presidential election. Smith insisted that no one could beat Lincoln. Smith was a Unionist Democrat who served as a delegate the June 1864 Union Convention in Baltimore that nominated Abraham Lincoln for reelection. He went on to become an Unconditional Unionist and supported the 13th Amendment.  James M. Ashley was an abolitionist Republican who authored the bill abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia in 1862 and the first bill that ultimately became the 13th Amendment.



The Lincoln letter offered here, and the person to whom it was addressed (Creswell), leads to the most probable purpose of the meeting being one of discussing abolition. Of equal significance on this day is Ulysses S. Grant started the sustained offensive known as the Overland Campaign.  Grant (who had been appointed two months before to command all the armies of the United States) was undertaking a massive, coordinated campaign involving all the Union Armies. Grant himself was at the head of an Army of 120,000 soldiers, advancing toward Richmond to engage Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, now numbering 64,000 soldiers, beginning a war of attrition with major battles at the Wilderness (May 5-6), Spotsylvania (May 8-12), and Cold Harbor (June 1-3). William Sherman, with 100,000 men, was beginning to advance toward Atlanta to engage Joseph E. Johnston's 60,000 strong Army of Tennessee.


Lincoln's office at this time was on the east end of the of the second floor of the White House. His work table stood between two tall windows that faced the south lawn, affording a panorama of the incomplete Washington Monument, the red-roofed Smithsonian, and the Potomac River. In the center of the chamber, which doubled as the Cabinet Room, stood a long oak table around which the members arranged themselves in order of precedence. (Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin). On the day of his appointment with Creswell, Lincoln would have been surrounded by evidence of the ever-expanding war, with battlefield maps everywhere -  rolled in standing racks, placed in folios on the floor, and hanging on the walls or reclining against.


John Andrew Jackson Creswell (1828-1891) was born in Maryland and graduated from Dickinson College in 1848. He studied law and gained admission to the bar in Baltimore in 1850. He opened a law practice in Elkton, Maryland (between Baltimore and Philadelphia), and became active in Democratic politics. He was elected as a member of the state House of Delegates in 1860 as a Democrat. As a Unionist, he served as adjutant general of Maryland in 1862-1863. He represented Maryland in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1863 to 1865 as an Unconditional Unionist and in the U.S. Senate from 1865 to 1867. While a member of the House, he was a strong advocate for the abolition of slavery and the passage of the 13th Amendment. President Ulysses S. Grant appointed him as Postmaster General, and Creswell held that position from 1869 to 1874, when he resigned. He returned to the practice of law and served as counsel for the United States before the Alabama Claims Commission from 1874 to 1876. He was later the president of two banks.



Scarce, with another Lincoln ALS with similar content having recently sold at Heritage for $35,000

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.



Item: 66596

Price: $18,000.00
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Abraham Lincoln
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