Several versions of the Sullivan Ballou letter, with small variations, seem to exist. Film maker Ken Burns believes that is because the letter was hand copied multiple times. The original appears to have been lost. Burns believes it was buried with Ballou’s wife when she died at age 80 in 1917. She never remarried. This version is from “For Love and Liberty,” a history of the letter, its writer and his times, by Robin Young, who credits the Rhode Island Historical Society.

Michael E. Ruane