Abraham Lincoln to Mary Lincoln, 2 July 18481Washington, July 2, 1848.My dear wife:
Your letter of last sunday came last night–2 On that day, (sunday) I wrote the principal part of a letter to you, but did not finish it, or send it till tuesday, when I had provided a draft for $100 which I sent in it–3 It is now probable that on that day (tuesday) you started to Shelbyville; so that when the money reaches Lexington, you will not be there– Before leaving, did you make any provision about letters that might come to Lexington for you?– Write me whether you got the draft, if you shall not have already done so, when this reaches you– Give my kindest regards to your uncle John, and all the family–4 Thinking of them reminds me that I saw your acquaintance, Newton, of Arkansas, at the Philadelphia Convention– We had but a single interview, and that was so brief, and in so great a mul multitude of strange faces, that I am quite sure I should not recognize him, if I were to, meet him again– He was a sort of Trinity, three in one, having the right, in his own person, to cast the three votes of Arkansas– Two or three days ago I
<Page 2>sent your uncle John, and a few of our other friends each a copy of the speech I mentioned in my last letter; but I did not send any to you, thinking you would be on the road here, before it would reach you–5 I send you one now– Last wednesday, P. H. Hooe & Co, dunned me for a little bill of $5–38 cents, and Walter Harper & Co, another for $8–50 cents, for goods which they say you bought– I hesitated to pay them, because my recollection is that you told me when you went away, there was nothing left unpaid– Mention in your next letter whether they are right– Mrs Richardson is still here; and what is more, has a baby– so Richardson says, and he ought to know– I believe Mary Hewett has left here and gone to Boston–6 I met her on the street about fifteen or twenty days ago, and she told me she was going soon– I have seen nothing of her since– The music in the Capitol grounds on saturdays, or, rather, the interest in it, is dwindling down to nothing– Yesterday evening the attendance was rather thin– Our two girls, whom you remember, seeing first at Carusis, at the exhibition of the Ethiopian Serenaders, and whose peculiarities were the wearing of black fur bonnets, and never being seen in close company with other ladies, were at the music yesterday–7
<Page 3>One of them was attended by their brother, and the other had a member of Congress in tow– He went home with her; and if I were to guess, I would say, he went away a somewhat altered man—most likely in his pockets, and in some other particular– The fellow looked conscious of guilt, although I believe he was unconscious that every body around knew who it was that had caught him–
I have had no letter from home, since I wrote you before, except short business letters, which have no interest for you–
By the way, you do not intend to do without a girl, because the one you had has left you? Get another as soon as you can to take charge of the dear codgers– Father expected to see you all sooner; but let it pass; stay as long as you please, and come when you please– Kiss and love the dear rascals–affectionatelyA. Lincoln
4Mary Lincoln accompanied her husband to Washington, DC when he assumed his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in December 1847, but by April 1848, she and the children had returned to her father’s house in Lexington, Kentucky. The separation pleased neither party, and in May and June, Lincoln and Mary made arrangements for Mary and the children to return to Washington. By the third week of July, she and the children were reunited with Lincoln.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:257, 262; Betty Boles Ellison, The True Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2014), 71-72.
5Lincoln might have been referring to his speech on internal improvements delivered in the House on June 20, 1848.
6Mary Hewett could not be positively identified. Roy P. Basler, editor of The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, suggests poet and editor Mary E. Hewitt as a possibility. Another prospect was Mary Hewitt, daughter of a prominent Baltimore attorney, who would marry Abner Doubleday.
Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 1:496; JoAnn Smith Bartlett, Abner Doubleday: His Life and Times (USA: JoAnn Smith Bartlett, 2009), 80.
7The “Ethiopian Serenaders” was the name adopted by several blackface minstrel troupes popular in the United States and Great Britain in the mid to late nineteenth century.
Stephen Johnson, ed., Burnt Cork: Traditions and Legacies of Blackface Minstrelsy (Amherst and Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2012), 84-86, 101 n21, 102 n22; Eric Lott, Love & Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), 153, 180, 269, n26; The Juba Project, https://www.utm.utoronto.ca/~w3minstr/featured/juba_and.html, accessed 13 September 2019.
Autograph Letter Signed, 3 page(s), Box 5, University of Chicago (Chicago, IL).