Letter to Mary Lincoln (June 16, 1863)

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#117 on the list of 150 Most Teachable Lincoln Documents

Annotated Transcript

“It is a matter of choice with yourself whether you come home. There is no reason why you should not, that did not exist when you went away. As bearing on the question of your coming home, I do not think the raid into Pennsylvania amounts to anything at all.”

On This Date

HD Daily Report, June 16, 1863

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How Historians Interpret

“So little correspondence has survived between husband and wife that one is tempted to make much of a pittance.  It is irresistible because Lincoln chose his words so carefully.  Clearly she had asked whether she should come home; plainly he told her the war should not keep her away.  So his first two sentences are telling.  He would not order her to come home—it was not his way to order her about, any  more than it was her habit to submit.  The second, cryptic sentence addresses a great chasm between them.  Simply translated, it means that since she left, nothing has changed; and if she wanted to be apart from him before, it will be no different now.  The tone is distant and cool, not at all welcoming.”

Daniel Mark Epstein, The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage (New York: Ballentine Books, 2008), 396

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Washington City, D.C. 
June 16. 1863 
 
Mrs. Lincoln 
Philadelphia. 
It is a matter of choice with yourself whether you come home. There is no reason why you should not, that did not exist when you went away. As bearing on the question of your coming home, I do not think the raid into Pennsylvania amounts to anything at all 
A. LINCOLN
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