President Lincoln Writes the Daughter of a Friend Killed in Battle

December 23, 1862

At the request of Supreme Court Justice David Davis, President Lincoln writes a letter to the daughter of Colonel William McCullough, an old friend from Bloomington, Illinois who had been killed battle.  According to Davis biographer Willard King, “At her father’s death, Fanny succumbed to melancholia and her mind was despaired of.  The news gave Davis inexpressible pain.  ‘I love her as I would a child & believe that if I was at home, that I could do a great deal to lift her out of her great grief,’ he wrote.  ‘I will see Mr. Lincoln again, & prompt him to write her.  He promised the other day that he would.’  The President’s letter to Fanny McCullough is one of the finest in the Lincoln literature.”  President Lincoln writes 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 is such cases.  In this said 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 knew 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.”  He closed the letter: “Please present my kind regards to your afflicted mother.  Your sincere friend.”

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Published in: on December 23, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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