Author's Corner

Fourth of July: On Lincoln and his letter


As the country celebrates the Fourth of July holiday with its typical fare of burgers and beer, fireworks and fun in the sun, I want to take a moment to share the words of one of great writers of American history.

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(Flickr: Laura Bittner)

(Flickr: Laura Bittner)

Oh yes, there are so many — London, Fitzgerald, Whitman and Hemingway.

But, did you know that President Abraham Lincoln was an accomplished poet?

In this letter to a grief-stricken mother who’d lost her son in the Civil War, Lincoln delivers the most eloquent expression of sympathy and gratitude.

Letter to Mrs. Bixby:

Executive Mansion,
Washington, Nov. 21, 1864.

Dear Madam,–

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln

Such a beautifully written letter! It reminds me that we may be losing this treasured tradition of letter-writing.

Take a moment today to remember the sacrifices of the brave and loyal patriots who have delivered us this great nation.

And consider writing a brief letter of thanks, in your own hand, to a veteran or even a loved one — keeping an important writing tradition alive for another generation to come.

Kerri S. Mabee is managing editor at and founder of Breeze Media & Communications. Learn more about her at kerrismabee.comFollow @EducatedWriter.



Kerri S. Mabee

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