Presidental Letter Collection
Lincoln's response to Mikveh Israel's condolences on his son Willie's death.

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Record 2/8
Copyright Congregation Mikveh Israel
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Collection Presidential Letters
Creator Abraham Lincoln
Date May 13, 1862
Abstract William "Willie" Lincoln was the third son of Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln born in December 1850. He died at the age of 11. He was named after Mary's brother-in-law Dr. William Wallace.

Willie became ill in early 1862, most likely typhoid fever contracted from drinking contaminated water, and gradually weakened until both parents spent much time at his bedside. Finally, on Thursday, February 20, 1862, at 5:00 p.m., Willie died. Abraham said, "My poor boy. He was too good for this earth. God has called him home. I know that he is much better off in heaven, but then we loved him so. It is hard, hard to have him die!" Both parents were greatly affected, and Willie's younger brother, Tad, cried for nearly a month. Lincoln generated no official correspondence for four days. Mary was so distraught that Lincoln initally feared for her sanity because Tad was also sick with the same illness at the time, though he survived.

Saddened by this tragedy, Rev. Sabato Morais reveled his deep affection for Lincoln in a sermon a passage of which follows:

"Bless the President of the United States; bless him for his sterling honesty, bless him for his firmness and moderation. Rekindle with joy his domestic hearth; pour on him the balm of divine consolation. Grant that the issues of his momentous obligations be a united and prosperous country. Grant that the end of his career be the maintenance of this Government, unimpaired and unsullied as bequeathed by our illustrious ancestors."

The sermon quickly found its was into print, and Abraham Hart the Parnas of Mikveh Israel sent copies to Lincoln. This is the only known letter to an American Jewish Congregation.

TRANSCRIPT:

"My Dear Sir,

Permit me to acknowledge the recipt of your commumication of April 23d containing a copy of a Prayer newly delivered at your Synagogue, and to thank you heartily for your expressions of kindness and confidence.

I have the honor to be Your Obt. Servant,

A. Lincoln

A Hart Esq
Pres. Cong. Hope of Israel
Phila."
Object Name Letter, Lincoln
Title Lincoln's response to Mikveh Israel's condolences on his son Willie's death.
Images used courtesy of Congregation Mikveh Israel

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Last modified on: April 19, 2012