November 21, 1864
President Lincoln writes a Massachusetts veteran of the Revolutionary War, 105-year-old John Phillips, who had voted for President Lincoln’s reelection: “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 Psalmist’s 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. Your friend and Servant
President Lincoln sends a letter to a Boston mother who supposedly had lost several sons in the war. There are serious doubts about whether President Lincoln or aide John Hay actually wrote the letter to Mrs. Lydia Bixby: “I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.
I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.
I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom.
The information provided to the White House was incorrect. Mrs. Bixby had actually only lost two sons. And one was a Confederate sympathizer.
President Lincoln writes former Georgia Congressman Augustus R. Wright: “Admitting that your cotton was destroyed by the Federal Army, I do not suppose any-thing could be done for you now. Congress has appropriated no money for that class of claims, and will not, I expect, while the active war lasts.”