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Full text of "Four Lincoln firsts"

973.7L63 

A A nil f 



Angte, PaulM 

Four Lincoln firsfs 




LINCOLN ROOM 

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS 
LIBRARY 




MEMORIAL 

the Class of 1901 

founded by 

HARLAN HOYT HORNER 

and 

HENRIETTA CALHOUN HORNER 



FOUR LINCOLN FIRSTS 

By Paul M. Angle 



[Separate from the Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America] 
Volume Thirty-six, First Quarter, 1 942 



Copyright 1942 by The Bibliographical Society of America 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 



http://archive.org/details/fourlincolnfirstOOangl 



'S.7U 



FOUR LINCOLN FIRSTS 

By Paul M. Angle 



In the f reparation of this paper I have been aided most generously by Ernest J. 
Wessen, Mansfield , Ohio; Daniel H. New hall. New York; Harold Lancour, Li- 
brarian, The Cooper Union Library; Joseph Gavit, Associate Librarian, New 
York State Library; Gail Curtis, Reference Librarian, Michigan State Library; 
and Paul North Rice, Chief of the- Reference Department, New York Public Li- 
brary. All undertook extensive research in my behalf, and this note of acknowl- 
edgment is far from adequate recognition of their services. 

I 

Subtreasury Speech > December 26 y 183Q 

IN Illinois, a century ago, politics centered at Springfield. 
There lived such aggressive leaders as Stephen A. Douglas, 
John Calhoun, John T. Stuart, E. D. Baker, and Abraham 
Lincoln, while others equally prominent and mettlesome were 
frequently attracted to the state capitol by the sessions of the leg- 
islature and the courts. Given an occasion, there was certain to be 
speechmaking, and then as now, speeches got into print. 

In the fall of 1839, the time was ripe for political oratory. 
Martin Van Buren, in the White House, was unpopular, and the 
Whigs of Illinois were elated by the prospect of toppling him 

* Read at the Society's Meeting held in Chicago, December 30, 1941. 



2 Bibliographical Society of America 

from what they were pleased to call his throne. The President, 
however, had staunch defenders, unafraid to meet his critics in 
open argument. In November, when a number of leaders of both 
parties were brought together in Springfield by a court session, a 
nightly debate of nearly a week's duration took place. A month 
later, after the opening of the biennial session of the legislature 
had brought the politicians together again, the performance was 
repeated. One of the Whig speakers on both occasions was Abra- 
ham Lincoln, then serving his third term as a member of the 
House of Representatives from Sangamon County. 

Lincoln's speech in the second debate, delivered on the night of 
December 26, 1839, was an argument against the subtreasury, 
presented so effectively that the Whigs decided to print it in pam- 
phlet form and distribute it as a campaign document. It was the 
first of his speeches to be accorded this distinction. Because of this 
fact, and because the form in which most collectors have seen it 
has mystified them, it deserves to be included in this discussion. 

The mystery I shall state in the words of a dealer of long ex- 
perience. I quote from a letter received some years ago : 

I have enclosed in your package today a copy of Fish 5 1 8 of which I want 
your opinion. This piece, the last owner told me, came out of John Hay's library, 
having been presented to him by Thos. J. Henderson. 

According to my records you and Governor Horner are the only collectors 
that have it. It is on the want lists of all the others. Stewart never saw it nor Mc- 
Lellan. 

But what is it? Obviously, it was not printed in 1839. Is this Henderson the 
old time Illinois man who was a Congressman in 1 874 when he was 50 years old? 
And where did he get it? It is on pulp paper which was not used until the middle 
80s. 

It certainly is a good piece but I suspect it is comparatively modern. If you 
throw any light on it I will appreciate it. 

Light came not from me but from Thomas J. Henderson him- 
self, who had been, as my correspondent surmised, a prominent 
Illinois Republican congressman. Henderson died in February, 
1 9 1 1 . Two months later a sketch of his life was published in the 
Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society. 1 In that sketch sev- 

1 Vol. IV, No. 1, pp. 67-81. 



Four Lincoln Firsts 3 

eral paragraphs were quoted from the manuscript of a speech 
which death had prevented him from delivering on Lincoln's 
Birthday. There he related that his father — like Lincoln, a 
Whig member of the Illinois legislature — had been present at 
the political debate in Springfield in December, 1839. Hender- 
son wrote : 

Abraham Lincoln made a speech on the Whig side, replying to Mr. Douglas 
and Mr. Lamborn, which was of so much ability and force that when the Legisla- 
ture met, the Whig members had the speech printed in pamphlet form as a cam- 
paign document, and when my father came home from Springfield he brought a 
number of copies of the speech with him, and attracted as I was, by the eloquent 
peroration of Mr. Lincoln's speech, although but a boy, I preserved a copy of the 
speech and committed the peroration to memory. . . . Some years ago I brought 
with me to Washington City the copy of this old speech, which I had preserved 
and still keep, and at his request, I permitted John G. Nicolay to copy and pub- 
lish it in one of the last volumes of his and John Hay's life of Lincoln. 

If I had not preserved this pamphlet copy of Mr. Lincoln's speech, when a 
boy, I have good reason to believe the speech would have been lost, for a few years 
ago at the request of some friends, I had a reprint of the speech made by Gibson & 
Sons, in Washington, and presented a copy of it to John Hay, then Secretary of 
State of the United States, and when I did so, I asked him the question, whether 
he or John Nicolay in their researches for material for the life and speeches of 
Abraham Lincoln, had found any other copy of the speech than the one I per- 
mitted them to copy and publish, and he said, no, they never found any other copy. 

Even without Henderson's copy of the original pamphlet, the 
text of Lincoln's Subtreasury Speech would have been preserved, 
for it was published in the Sangamo Journal before it was issued as a 
pamphlet. Nevertheless, the original edition is very rare. The 
Illinois State Historical Library, however, has an uncut copy in its 
collection. It is a ten-page pamphlet which measures 7 by 9^ 
inches, and has the following caption title : 

Speech of Mr. Lincoln, | At a Political Discussion, | In the Hall of the House 
of Representatives, December, 1839. | At Springfield, Illinois. 

The Henderson reprint also has ten pages but is somewhat 
smaller, measuring 6% by 9^ inches. It too has a caption title, 
identical with that of the original edition. The paper, however, is 
wood pulp, and the type much too modern for the year 1839. 



4 Bibliographical Society of America 

Paper and type should enable all except tyros to recognize the re- 
print for what it is, but for anyone so unsure of himself as to need 
other means of identification, it may be noted that on p. 10 of the 
reprint there are 28 lines, instead of 33 as in the original. 

II 

The "House Divided" Speech 

Disdaining strict accuracy, we may say, with Alexandre Dumas, 
"twenty years after." It is the night of the 16th of June, 1858, 
and Abraham Lincoln is about to address the members of the Re- 
publican State Convention, who that afternoon had selected him 
as the man in the party most likely to defeat Stephen A. Douglas 
for election to the United States Senate. The crowd in the Hall of 
the House of Representatives listens intently as he begins slowly 
and with emphasis: 

If we could first know zvhere we are, and whither we are tending, we could 
then better judge what to do, and how to do it. 

We are now far into the jijth year, since a policy was initiated, with the 
avowed object, and confident promise, of putting an end to slavery agitation. 

Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only, not ceased, but 
has constantly augmented. 

In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached, and 
passed. 

Then came the paraphrase 2 which furnished the title by which 
the speech has ever since been known : "A house divided against 
itself cannot stand." 

It was a bold speech and a good speech, and because of its pre- 
diction of certain strife, it aroused as much controversy as any- 
thing Abraham Lincoln ever said. For these reasons the identifi- 
cation of the first separate publication of the speech would be a 
matter of interest. But there is an additional reason for establish- 
ing the original text. In Lincoln's published writings the "House 

2 "If a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand." Mark. Ill, 25. 



Four Lincoln Firsts 5 

Divided" speech is printed in straight roman type, and divided 
into orthodox paragraphs. In all contemporary printings, on the 
other hand, the text is heavily italicized and set in very short 
paragraphs. The effect of the two different typographical styles 
upon a reader is materially different. Which conveys the impres- 
sion Lincoln desired? 

Very soon after the adjournment of the convention, its pro- 
ceedings were published by the proprietors of the Illinois State 
Journal. This pamphlet, octavo, 3 with twelve pages, has this cover 
title: 

Proceedings | of the | Republican State Convention, | held at | Springfield, 
Illinois, I June 16, 1858. | [Ornamental rule] | Springfied: | Bailhache & Baker, 
Printers. 

Except for the cover, three short paragraphs on p. 9, and half a 
column on p. 1 2, all type used in this pamphlet was lifted from 
the June 17 and June 18 issues of the Illinois State Journal— the, 
convention proceedings from the issue of the 1 7th, the speeches 
of Lincoln and Gustave Koerner from that of the next day. The 
use of the newspaper type distinguishes this from a second edition 
which has the same title and the same general appearance, but 
which was completely reset. One may assume, I think, that the 
publishers, anticipating no extraordinary demand, distributed the 
type after one printing, and then found that there was a large 
enough market to justify another edition. Fortunately, for pur- 
poses of easy identification, the typesetters had difficulty with the 
word "Springfield" in the title of both editions. In the first, they 
spelled it "Springfied" in the next to the last line; in the second, 
it was spelled "Spingfield" in the fifth line. Typographical er- 
rors have their uses. 

Among those in attendance at the Republican State Convention 
was C. W. Waite, editor of The True Republican of Sycamore, De 
Kalb County, Illinois. Waite was impressed by the convention, 

3 The Illinois State Historical Library has three copies of this pamphlet, all uncut. 
They measure, in inches: 6}& x 9^, 6j4 x 10^, and 7^2 x io}4- 



6 Bibliographical Society of America 

and ran a four-column account of it in the first issue of his paper 
to be published after his return home — that for June 22. 4 In that 
account is this sentence: 

As Mr. Lincoln's speech was phonographically reported, we shall attempt to 
give no abstract of it this week, but will present it entire to our readers in our next 
issue. 

True to its promise, The True Republican for June 29, 1858, 
carried the text of Lincoln's speech. With it appeared this editorial 
endorsement: 

Of course every Republican will carefully read the speech of Hon. Abram 
Lincoln, which we publish in another column. It was reported phonographically, 
with all the emphases which the distinguished speaker made accurately marked. 
As we glance over the emphasized portions, every gesture is vividly recalled to our 
mind, and the convincing and earnest tones again ring in our ear. 

Perhaps the demand for copies of the paper containing Lin- 
coln's speech outran the supply 5 perhaps it was simply Waite's 
enthusiasm that led him to lift the type from his issue of June 29 
and print Lincoln's speech separately in a sextodecimo pamphlet 
of 1 6 pages. Whatever the reason, the honor of issuing the first 
exclusive publication of one of Lincoln's greatest speeches must 
go to him and to the Sycamore True Republican. 5 

Here is the full title — a cover title — of one of the very rarest 
items in Lincolniana: 

Speech | of | Hon. Abram Lincoln, | Before the | Republican State Conven- 
tion, I June 16, 1858. I "The result is not doubtful. We shall not fail — if | we 
stand firm, we shall not fail." | [Rule] | Sycamore. | O. P. Bassett, Pr., True Re- 
publican Office I 1858. 

Comparison of texts poses an interesting question. The True 
Republican text is inferior to that of the Proceedings — on p. 4 of the 
former two paragraphs are transposed, on p. 10 two lines are 
dropped out, and not quite so many words are italicized. Even so, 

4 The True Republican was a weekly. 

5 The edition of the "House Divided" speech brought out by the Albany Evening 
Journal — Evening Journal Tracts No. j — was published during the campaign of 
i860. The text of that pamphlet is something of a mystery. In italics, it is identical 
with the Proceedings, but there are important and unaccountable variations in 
language. 



Four Lincoln Firsts y 

in paragraphing and italics the degree of similarity between the 
two texts is too great to be accidental. One must conclude, with 
Douglas C. McMurtrie, 6 that the compositor who set the True 
Republican type had before him either a copy of the Illinois State 
Journal for June 1 8, 1 858, or one of the Proceedings pamphlets. 

Yet Waite insisted that the speech was "phonographically"— 
that is, stenographically — reported, and certainly led his readers 
to believe that he printed it from a shorthand record. On the 
other hand, William H. Herndon stated that Lincoln wrote the 
"House Divided" speech 

on stray envelopes and scraps of paper, as ideas suggested themselves, putting 
them into that miscellaneous and convenient receptacle, his hat. As the conven- 
tion drew near he copied the whole on connected sheets, carefully revising every 
line and sentence, and fastened them together, for reference during the delivery 
of the speech, and for publication. 7 

Horace White was even more explicit: 

I sat a short distance from Mr. Lincoln when he delivered the "house-di- 
vided-against-itself" speech, on the 1 7th of June. This was delivered from man- 
uscript, and was the only one I ever heard him deliver in that way. When it was 
concluded he put the manuscript in my hands and asked me to go to the State 
Journal office and read the proof of it. I think it had already been set in type. Be- 
fore I had finished this task Mr. Lincoln himself came into the composing room 
of the State Journal and looked over the revised proofs. He said to me that he had 
taken a great deal of pains with this speech, and that he wanted it to go before the 
people just as he had prepared it. 8 

Here, apparently, is contradiction, one man asserting that the 
speech was printed from a stenographic report, others that it was 
printed from manuscript copy. The differences between the True 
Republican and Illinois State Journal texts are slight, but in view of 
Lincoln's insistence that the speech be printed accurately, the 
truth of the matter is worth establishing. 

6 "A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand" By Abraham Lincoln The 
Text of This Celebrated Speech as Originally Written, Paragraphed, Italicized & 
Proofread by its Author, Printed in its Entirety for the First Time since its Con- 
temporary Publication. With an Introduction by Douglas C. McMurtrie. Chicago 
and New York, 1936. 

7 W. H. Herndon. Life of Lincoln, New York, 1930, p. 324. 

8 Herndon & Weik. Abraham Lincoln, The True Story of a Great Life, New 
York, 1893, II, p. 92. 



8 Bibliographical Society of America 

On reflection, there appears to be no real contradiction. The 
proceedings of the convention were reported stenographically. 
That we know. Waite, therefore, undoubtedly saw a stenogra- 
pher at work, perhaps saw him taking notes while Lincoln was 
speaking. In all probability, he assumed that the Journal's report 
of the speech came from these notes. He was simply mistaken. 

Ill 

The Cooper Union Address 

Students of Lincoln's life are agreed that his address at 
Cooper Institute on February 27, 1 860, was essential to his nomi- 
nation for the Presidency. Without the favorable impression that 
he created on that occasion, it is unlikely that his aspirations 
would have been taken seriously. And of major importance in 
creating that impression were the thousands of pamphlet copies 
of his speech distributed after its delivery. A study of those pam- 
phlets, therefore, is of historical as well as bibliographical im- 
portance. 

The New York Tribune, most influential newspaper in the 
country, printed Lincoln's speech in full in its issue for February 
28, i860. In that same issue appeared an editorial, presumably 
by Horace Greeley, praising the speech and speaker in glowing 
terms: 

The Speech of Abraham Lincoln at the Cooper Institute last evening was one 
of the happiest and most convincing political arguments ever made in this City, 
and was addressed to a crowded and most appreciating audience. Since the days 
of Clay and Webster, no man has spoken to a larger assemblage of the intellect and 
mental culture of our City. Mr. Lincoln is one of Nature's orators, using his rare 
powers solely and effectively to elucidate and to convince, though their inevitable 
effect is to delight and electrify as well. We present herewith a very full and ac- 
curate report of this Speech ; yet the tones, the gestures, the kindling eye and the 
mirth provoking look, defy the reporter's skill. The vast assemblage frequently 
rang with cheers and shouts of applause, which were prolonged and intensified 
at the close. No man ever before made such an impression on his first appeal to a 
New-York audience. . . . 

We shall soon issue his Speech of last night in pamphlet form for cheap circu- 
lation. 



Four Lincoln Firsts 9 

In this same issue of the New York Tribune appeared an adver- 
tisement which had been running since February 2 1 — an adver- 
tisement of The Tribune Campaign Tracts. Listed were No. 1 , Wil- 
liam H. Seward's "Irrepressible Conflict" Speech j and No. 2, 
Henry Wilson's speech entitled, "Democratic Leaders for Dis- 
union." Unnumbered, but advertised as available, was Cassius M. 
Clay's speech at Cooper Institute, February 17, i860; while it 
was also announced that orders for Helper's Impending Crisis 
could be filled on the day of receipt. 

On March 1 this notice, which was kept standing for months, 
was enlarged by the addition of No. 3 — Seward's speech of Feb- 
ruary 29, 1 860, in the U. S. Senate. On March 6 it was enlarged 
again — this time with the announcement of No. 4— "Speech of 
Abraham Lincoln of Illinois, delivered at the Cooper Institute." 
An editorial in the same issue contained this statement: "The 
Speech of Abraham Lincoln of Illinois, at the Cooper Institute 
in this City . . . has just been issued in pamphlet form on large 

type at this office " (Dealers please note: price was 4^ a single 

copy, 25^ per dozen, $1.25 per 1 00, $ 1 0.00 per 1 ,000. ) 

The New York Tribune, therefore, had Lincoln's Cooper Union 
Speech in pamphlet form on sale just eight days after its delivery. 

But what of other editions of the speech, issued by other pub- 
lishers? At least a dozen editions were printed in 1 860. Not long 
ago, when I asked a veteran bookman for his opinion about them, 
his reply was: "Which of these was the first is anybody's guess." 

The guessing, however, can be very greatly restricted. The 
contents or imprints of several prove that they were published 
after Lincoln's nomination. They, therefore, are eliminated as 
possibilities. Moreover, the publication dates of most of those 
which remain can be established definitely or approximately. 

Closest in time to Tribune Tract No. 4 was probably the Chi- 
cago Press & Tribune y s edition with the title, Press £5? Tribune Docu- 
ment No. 1. This paper printed Lincoln's speech in its issue of 
March 2, i860, and praised it editorially. On March 9 it an- 



i o Bibliographical Society of America 

nounced, under the heading, "Press and Tribune Documents for 
i860": "We shall immediately issue in pamphlet form the two 
most effective political documents of the year— the speeches of 
Abraham Lincoln at the Cooper Institute, New York, and of 
William H. Seward in the Senate of the United States. ..." I 
have not been able to establish the exact date of publication, but 
even if the pamphlet came out within a day or two, it was later 
than Tribune Tract No. 4 by several days. 

In Lincoln's home, the Illinois State Journal printed the Cooper 
Union Address on March 3. On March 1 3 it ran this notice under 
the heading, "Campaign Documents": "We shall shortly issue a 
revised pamphlet edition of Mr. Lincoln's Great New York 
Speech, printed with large type and on good paper. Also Mr. Sew- 
ard's late speech in the United States Senate. ..." Although this 
notice headed the city column, which was devoted to live local 
news and was changed daily, it was kept standing until April 3, 
and then dropped. Not until April 24 did the following notice 
appear, also at the head of the city column : 

Journal Campaign Documents 
No. 1. 
A vindication of the principles of the Republican party, embraced in the 
speech of Abraham Lincoln, delivered in Cooper Institute, New York City, 
Feb. 27, i860. Now ready. 

Evening Journal Tract No. 5, the Albany Evening Journal's 
pamphlet edition of the Cooper Union Address, was published at 
about the same time. Tract No. 2, Seward's speech of February 
29, was advertised at the paper's masthead on and after March 8, 
but the notice was not enlarged to include Tract No. 5 — Lincoln's 
speech— until April 23. Another newspaper publication of the 
speech — Detroit Tribune Tract No. 5 — came at least weeks later. 
The Detroit Tribune did not publish Lincoln's speech in its news 
columns until May 28, and an editorial reference in the same 
issue proves that at that date the paper had it available in no other 
form. 



Four Lincoln Firsts 1 1 

Only one other edition of the Cooper Union Address can be 
considered as a possible contestant of Tribune Tract No. 4's claim 
to primacy. 9 That is a sixteen-page octavo pamphlet with the fol- 
lowing cover title : 

The Republican Party Vindicated —The Demands | of the South Explained. 
[Rule] I Speech | of j Hon. Abraham Lincoln, | of Illinois, | at the | Cooper 
Institute | New York City. | [Rule] | Washington: | i860. 

In addition to the text of the address, this pamphlet contains a re- 
porter's account of the extemporaneous speeches made at the 
meeting by Horace Greeley, James W. Nye, James A. Briggs, 
and Judge Culver. 

While the New York Tribune was the source of most printings 
of the Cooper Union Address, the text of The Republican Party 
Vindicated came from the New York Herald, which published 
Lincoln's speech in full in its issue for February 28. The Tribune 
and Herald versions, moreover, vary in several particulars. Most 
of the variations are of little consequence, but two are important. 
Between the second and third sentences in the paragraph be- 
ginning, "To enumerate. . ." as the speech is printed in The Com- 
plete Works of Abraham Lincoln, V, p. 301, The Republican Party 
Vindicated {Herald text) has this sentence: "He was a Georgian, 
too." It also has this passage after the sentence, "The elections 
came, and your expectations were not quite fulfilled," V, p. 315: 
"You did not sweep New York, and New Jersey, and Wisconsin, 
and Minnesota, precisely like fire sweeps over the prairie in high 
wind. You are still drumming at this idea. Go on with it. If you 
think you can, by slandering a woman, make her love you, or by 
villifying a man make him vote with you, go on and try it." The 
passage was punctuated, if the reporter is to be believed, with 
"laughter," and "boisterous laughter and prolonged applause." 

This text, moreover, was the one used by the Republican Exec- 

9 I am not ignoring New-Yorker Demokrat Flugblatt No. 4 — a German trans- 
lation of the Cooper Union Address. The fact that the other titles in the series were 
identical with those of the Tribune Tracts indicates that all were German translations 
of the New York Tribune campaign documents. I have been unable to locate a file of 
the New-Yorker Demokrat. 



LIBRARY 

UNIVERSITY OP HHMnrf 



1 2 Bibliographical Society of America 

utive Congressional Committee in the edition of the Cooper 
Union Speech which it published and circulated. It was also used 
in the party pamphlet that contains the speech of John Hickman, 
July 24, 1 860, in addition to Lincoln's address. The fact that both 
these pamphlets also have the title, The Republican Party Vindi- 
cated—The Demands of the South Explained , which was used, I 
think, in no other edition, may mean that all three were pub- 
lished at about the same time. If that is the case, the first Wash- 
ington edition undoubtedly came out after Lincoln's nomination. 
On the other hand, the use of the same title may be without sig- 
nificance as far as the date of publication is concerned. The best 
reason for assigning priority to Tribune Tract No. 4 lies in the 
fact that in 1 860, New York and Washington were at least a day 
apart as far as mail was concerned. Presumably, the New York 
Tribune got out Tribune Tract No. 4 as soon as possible after the 
delivery of Lincoln's speech. If The Republican Party Vindicated 
was also issued as soon as possible, it would have been at least a 
day later. 

The textual differences between the three Washington pam- 
phlets and all others raise the question of the correct text of the 
address. According to Lincoln's own statement, 10 Tribune Tract 
No. 4 was published without supervision on his part, but Journal 
Campaign Document No. 1— the Springfield publication — had 
the benefit of his own "hasty supervising." The text of the latter, 
however, is identical with the former 5 the only differences are in 
spelling and capitalization. However, the Nott-Brainerd edition, 
published by The Young Men's Republican Union of New York, 
differs from all earlier editions in one important respect — the 
correction of a factual statement — and in several minor matters of 
phraseology. Because Lincoln read the proofs of this edition, 11 

10 Lincoln to Charles C. Nott, Springfield, May 31, i860. Gilbert A. Tracy. 
Uncollected Letters of Abraham Lincoln, pp. 149-51. 

11 The Address of the Hon. Abraham Lincoln . . . With Notes by Charles C. Nott 
& Cephas Brainerd. New York, i860. The Editors' Preface is dated September, 1 860. 
A facsimile reprint of this pamphlet, with an added Introduction and the Nott- 
Lincoln correspondence, was published in 1907. 



Four Lincoln Firsts i 3 

and carried on a correspondence with one of its editors, this is the 
authoritative text. Fortunately, in the case of the Cooper Union 
Address, the editors of Lincoln's writings departed from their 
customary practice of following the poorest possible version. 
Both Nicolay & Hay and Lapsley adhered to the Nott-Brainerd 
text — the latter even to the reproduction of italics. 

IV 

The Gettysburg Address 

Beyond question, Lincoln's greatest speech — perhaps the 
greatest speech in the English language — is the Gettysburg 
Address. 

Collectors have generally agreed that the Gettysburg Address 
was first put into print, aside from the newspapers, in a 4 8 -page 
booklet entitled An Oration Delivered on the Battlefield oj Gettys- 
burg . . . , by Edward Everett, published by Baker & Godwin, 
New York, 1863, although two Boston publications 12 have had 
some stout champions. But one of the fascinations of bibliography 
comes from the possibility that at any time a new discovery may 
overturn accepted beliefs. Such a discovery was provided by the 
Lincoln Collection of the late Governor Henry Horner, which is 
now a valued possession of the Illinois State Historical Library. 

In this collection is a 16-page pamphlet, uncut, unopened, 
measuring 7 by 10 J^ inches, with the following cover title: 

The Gettysburg Solemnities. | [Double rule] | Dedication | of | The Na- 
tional Cemetery | at | Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, | November 19, 1863, | with 
the I Oration of Hon. Edward Everett, | Speech of President Lincoln, | &c, &c, 
&c. I [Ornamental rule] | Published at the Washington Chronicle Office. 

This pamphlet contains a description of the Gettysburg battle- 
field, an account of the activities at Gettysburg on November 1 8 

12 Address of His Excellency John A. Andrew, to the Two Branches of the Legis- 
lature of Massachusetts, January 8, 1864, Boston, 1864, and Addresses of Hon. Ed- 
ward Everett, at the consecration of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg . . . , Boston : 
Little, Brown and Company, 1864. 



1 4 Bibliographical Society of America 

and 19, the text of the short speech which Lincoln delivered 
there on the evening of the 1 8th, Edward Everett's address, and 
Lincoln's speech of dedication. Except for a few column inches, 
the pamphlet was printed from type lifted from the issues of the 
Washington Chronicle for November 18, 19, 20, and 21. Included 
in the newly set material was the text of Lincoln's speech — the 
one feature of the pamphlet that gives it distinction. 

(Curiously, the Washington Chronicle failed to publish Lin- 
coln's speech in its daily issues. Everett's oration was printed in the 
issue for November 20 ; in that of the following day appeared 
dispatches describing the ceremonies and concluding: "The Presi- 
dent then delivered his address j which, though short, glittered 
with gems, evincing the gentleness and goodness of heart peculiar 
to him, and will receive the attention and command the admira- 
tion of all the tens of thousands who will read it.") 

When newspaper type has been used for a separate publication, 
one may safely assume that the separate publication was issued 
with little delay. In this case, however, we need not rely on as- 
sumptions. In the Washington Chronicle for November 20 ap- 
peared this notice: "Edward Everett's Great Oration and the 
Proceedings of the Dedication of the National Cemetery at 
Gettysburg, will be issued tomorrow in pamphlet form. — For 
Sale at the Chronicle Office." On the next day the same no- 
tice appeared without change. Since that was the day— November 
21— when the Chronicle merely mentioned Lincoln's speech, I 
think we may assume that the publication of the pamphlet was 
held up until the text of his address was available. If this assump- 
tion is correct, the pamphlet was not published before November 
22, but there can be little doubt that it was issued then, or, at the 
latest, a day or two afterward. Certainly it appeared long before 
the carefully printed, 48-page booklet which has heretofore been 
credited with first publication. 

Now, having, as I believe, identified the true first printing of 
the Gettysburg Address, I regret the necessity of pointing out the 



Four Lincoln Firsts 1 5 

fact that the text to be found in The Gettysburg Solemnities is a 
faulty one. Here it is: 

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a 
new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men 
are equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, 
or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are now on a 
great battle-field of that war. We are met to dedicate a portion of that field as the 
final resting-place of those who have given their last life-blood that that nation 
might live. But in a larger sense we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we 
cannot hallow this ground. The brave men living and dead who struggled here 
have consecrated it far above our poor power to add to or detract. [Applause.] 
The world will little know nor long remember what we say; but it can never for- 
get what they did here. [Applause.] And it is for us living to be dedicated here to 
the unfinished work that they have thus far so nobly carried forward. [Applause.] 
It is rather for us here to be dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that 
from this honored day we take increased devotion to that cause for which they 
here gave the last full measure of devotion. That we here highly resolve that 
these dead shall not have died in vain ; that the nation shall, under God, have a 
new birth of freedom. [Applause.] And that government of the people, by the 
people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth. [Applause.] 

Note that the sentence, "It is altogether fitting and proper 
that we should do this," is omitted. The other differences be- 
tween this and the accepted text will be readily apparent to every 
reader. 

The textual deficiencies of this version of the Gettysburg Ad- 
dress lead one to ask when the accepted text was first printed. Be- 
fore that question can be answered we must ask another: What is 
the accepted text? The answer is not so simple as one would think. 

In Abraham Lincoln: A History™ Nicolay and Hay present a 
version taken, according to their footnote, from an autograph 
copy of the address dated November 19, 1863. The text, how- 
ever, is not that of Lincoln's first draft, nor is it that of the fair 
copy which he made on the morning of November 19. 14 In an 

13 VIII, p. 202. 

14 The five extant manuscript copies of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address are printed 
in facsimile in William E. Barton. Lincoln at Gettysburg, Indianapolis, 1930, and 
Charles Moore. Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural, Boston and 
New York, 1927. 



1 6 Bibliographical Society of America 

article entitled, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address™ John G. Nicolay 
undertook to show how the "authentic text" of the address— by 
which he meant the one printed in Abraham Lincoln: A History — 
was established. He related that soon after Lincoln's return from 
Gettysburg, David Wills, who had arranged the dedication, asked 
the President for a copy of his remarks. 

To comply with this request [Nicolay wrote], the President reexamined his 
original draft, and the version which had appeared in the newspapers, and saw 
that, because of the variations between them, the first seemed incomplete, and 
the others imperfect. By his direction, therefore, his secretaries made copies of 
the Associated Press report as it was printed in several prominent newspapers. 
Comparing these with his original draft, and with his own fresh recollection of 
the form in which he delivered it, he made a new autograph copy — a careful and 
deliberate revision — which has become the standard and authentic text. 

So Nicolay said. But if this "careful and deliberate revision" 
was ever sent to Wills, the latter failed to use it in the official ac- 
count of the ceremonies— the Little, Brown and Company publi- 
cation of 1 864. There the text appears to be that of the New York 
Tribune, with two variations which probably resulted from type- 
setters' carelessness or editorial meddling. Moreover, the manu- 
script which Nicolay described is not known to exist, so if Lincoln 
really intended it to be the official version, we shall probably 
never know exactly how he wanted his greatest speech preserved 
for posterity. 

Actually, I think we do know exactly how Lincoln wanted his 
speech preserved. In February, 1 864, George Bancroft asked for 
a copy of the address in order that it might be included in a vol- 
ume of facsimiles entitled, Autografh Leaves of our Country's 
Authors. Lincoln complied, but because he wrote on both sides of 
the paper, his manuscript was not suitable for reproduction. At 
Bancroft's request he sent a second copy on March 1 1, 1 864, this 
time writing only on one side of the sheets. This copy was duly 
reproduced in the book for which it was intended, which was pub- 
lished by Cushings & Bailey, Baltimore, 1 864. As far as is known, 
this was Lincoln's final revision. 

15 Century Magazine, February, 1894, pp. 596-608. 



Four Lincoln Firsts 1 7 

Verbally, this is the text which Nicolay & Hay printed in 
Abraham Lincoln: A History. There, however, they set it in one in- 
stead of three paragraphs, and failed to follow exactly Lincoln's 
punctuation and capitalization. When they printed the speech in 
the Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, they took more editorial 
liberties. This time they followed Lincoln's own paragraphing, 
but "four score" was rendered "fourscore," "can not" was 
changed to "cannot," several commas were omitted, and three 
dashes were changed to semicolons. Arthur Brooks Lapsley, in 
the Federal Edition of The Works of Abraham Lincoln, New York 
and London, 1906, VII, p. 20, did much better. Had he only put 
a comma after the first "nation" in the sixth line of the text and a 
period at the end of the twenty-first line, he would have achieved 
complete accuracy. These variations, of course, are of small im- 
portance, but when editors have before them a text which the 
author has revised with care, there can be no excuse for any de- 
parture from it. 

Now to answer the questions which precipitated this digression : 
The accepted text of the Gettysburg Address is that which Lin- 
coln prepared for Autograph Leaves of our Country* s Authors, and it 
was first published, but only in facsimile, in that book. In type, a 
wholly accurate text is not to be found in any of the standard 
compilations of Lincoln's writings. 

Throughout this paper I have emphasized, perhaps unduly, 
the comparison of texts. The emphasis, however, has been delib- 
erate. That we have no reliable edition of Lincoln's writings is a 
standing reproach to American scholarship. The fact that the edi- 
torial shortcomings which Lincoln's published works exhibit re- 
sulted from carelessness and lax standards rather than from intent 
does not mitigate the misfortune. The greatest need in all Lin- 
colniana is an inclusive, scholarly edition of Lincoln's writings. 
And textual accuracy is bibliography's greatest potential contri- 
bution to that end. 






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