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A House Divided
Posted at 09:31 AM ET, 06/17/2011

Lincoln, Lee letters on auction block today

Letters written by President Abraham Lincoln and Robert E Lee and opera glasses Lincoln took with him to Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865 are expected to have new owners by the end of today. Sotheby’s, the auction house that will sell those items plus other Civil War treasures, said they should each bring in more than $100,000 at the sale.

The letter Lincoln wrote to a woman seeking leniency for her husband who helped a Confederate soldier is surprisingly harsh but it also was never sent. The 16th President sometimes did not immediately send such letters and then changed his mind about the message a day or so latter. This was one of those letters.

The one written by Lee was composed the same day he resigned his U.S. Army commission was sent to his brother, Capt. Sidney Smith Lee. In it he tells his brother, “...the war seems to have Commenced & I am liable at any time to be ordered on duty which I Could not Conscientiously perform.”

By Linda Wheeler  |  09:31 AM ET, 06/17/2011

 
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