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This Famous Abraham Lincoln Letter Wasn't Actually Written By Lincoln

The Bixby letter is one of the most famous letters sent by Abraham Lincoln. It’s a brief letter of consolation sent from the President to Lydia Parker Bixby, a widow who lost five sons in the Union Army during the American Civil War.

The letter reads as a personal condolence to Lydia, and has been praised as some of Lincoln’s finest work. However new analysis has found that the letter probably wasn’t written by Lincoln at all.

Using the same technique that outed JK Rowling as the author of the Robert Galbraith novels, and identified the creator of Bitcoin, researchers say that they have solved the mystery of who wrote the letter.


 A copy of the Bixby letter from the Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons:

Dear Madam

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 word 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.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln.

A team from the Center for Forensic Linguistics at Aston University think they can prove the letter was in fact written by Lincoln’s secretary, John Hay. They conclude that the letter almost certainly wasn’t authored by Lincoln, despite the original letter being lost and unavailable for analysis.

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