Herndon, William H., to Mr. Graff. Letter, Jan. 13, 1882 | Illinois History and Lincoln Collections
This collection consists of one letter from William H. Herndon, of Springfield, Illinois, to a Mr. Graff, dated January 13, 1882.
William H. Herndon, of Springfield, Illinois, was a law partner of Abraham Lincoln. After the death of Lincoln, Herndon sought to write an account of Lincoln as a person, rather than a hero. The biography, which he had written with Jesse W. Weik, received mixed reviews, as it challenged many traditional conceptions of the Lincoln family.
This collection contains a January 13, 1882 letter from William H. Herndon to a Mr. Graff. In the letter, Herndon questioned the authenticity of speech made by Abraham Lincoln in response to a "Committee of Colored People" from Baltimore who, in 1864, visited the White House and presented Lincoln with a Bible. Herndon believed the speech as published in books by Francis Bicknell Carpenter and Osborn H. Oldroyd "makes Lincoln say things which he never uttered nor any sane man would utter." He continued, that the books "makes Lincoln a fool or a hypocrite or an ass or a combination of the three." Herndon requested that Mr. Graff carefully read the two speeches and then find members of the Committee to see if the speech was accurately portrayed in the books. He also asks Graff to find out who had written the speech down and when it was written down. Herndon was certain that the latter half of the published speech was false, and wanted to "nail it so."
The Library purchased this letter in 1985.