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The Papers of Abraham Lincoln is a long-term project dedicated to identifying, imaging, transcribing, annotating, and publishing all documents written by or to Abraham Lincoln during his entire lifetime (1809-1865).

Japanese Diplomacy Amid Civil War

Papers of Abraham Lincoln receives images of Lincoln letters to Japan

March 26, 2015

SPRINGFIELD—The Papers of Abraham Lincoln has added three more documents to its collection by obtaining images of letters Lincoln wrote to the Shogun of Japan in 1861.

Many historic documents were destroyed by fire in the bombing of Tokyo during World War II, but these letters survived. They are held in the Diplomatic Archives of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Ms. Takako Day, a native of Japan who lives in DeKalb, Ill., contacted the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum regarding her research on Lincoln’s 1862 meeting with Joseph Heco, the only Japanese person Lincoln ever met. Day agreed to help obtain copies of the diplomatic documents, and she personally obtained the digital images on a recent visit to Japan.

The letters concern America’s ambassadors to Japan. In one, Lincoln assures Shogun Tokugawa Iemochi that Townsend Harris would represent the views of the Lincoln administration. The second and third letters announce Harris’s resignation and the appointment of Robert H. Pruyn as the new Minister Resident to the Japanese government.


  • Lincoln 1863

    Lincoln in 1863

  • Gettysburg Address

    One of the five extant copies of the Gettysburg Address.  Courtesy of the White House Historical Association.

  • Lincoln 1864

    Lincoln in 1864.

  • Lincoln endorsement

    Lincoln endorsement discharging an under-age soldier, November 1863.  Courtesy of a private collector.

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The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln, Second Edition

The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln

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The Papers of Abraham Lincoln
Director, Dr. Daniel W. Stowell
112 North Sixth Street
Springfield, Illinois 62701-1507
Phone: (217) 785-9130
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