Letter to Mary Lincoln (September 21, 1863)


#89 on the list of 150 Most Teachable Lincoln Documents

Annotated Transcript

“The air is so clear and cool, and apparantly healthy, that I would be glad for you to come. Nothing very particular, but I would be glad [to] see you and Tad.”

On This Date

HD Daily Report, September 21, 1863

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How Historians Interpret

“By the seventh week of Mary’s absence, Lincoln’s entreaties for her to return home become more wheedling: on September 20 – ‘I neither see nor hear anything of sickness here now,’ and on September 21- ‘The air so clear and cool, and apparently healthy that I would be glad for you to come.’ He also tried to use go-between to try to get his family back to Washington, writing on the twenty-second: ‘Mrs. Cuthbert did not correctly understand me I directed her to tell you to use your own pleasure whether to stay or come; and I did not say it is sickly and that you should on no account come… I really wish to see you. Answer this on receipt.’ Mary responded that she had called for transportation to return from New York and that she was anxious to return home.”

Catherine Clinton, “The Fiery Furnace of Affliction,” in 1863: Lincoln’s Pivotal Year, ed. Harold Holzer and Sarah Vaughn Gabbard (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2013), 81.

“Only a dozen short telegrams between the Lincolns remain from that summer. In these brief communications, Lincoln talked about the heat, shared news of the Kentucky elections, and asked her to let ‘dear Tad’ know that his nanny goat had run away and left his father ‘in distress about it.’ Only in mid-September, as the time drew near for Mary’s return, did Lincoln admit that he had missed her, repeating in two separate telegrams his eagerness to be reunited with her and with Tad. Mary understood that he was ‘not given to letter writing,’ and so long as she was assured of his good health, she remained content.”

Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005), 540.


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Washington, D.C. 
Sept. 21. 1863
Mrs. A Lincoln 
Fifth Avenue Hotel New-York
The air is so clear and cool, and apparantly healthy, that I would be glad for you to come. Nothing very particular, but I would be glad [to] see you and Tad.
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