Abraham Lincoln in Illinois
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives

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March 12, 1866

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This document is the first page of a four-page letter from United States Secretary of State William H. Seward to Illinois Governor Richard J. Oglesby. In the letter, Seward seeks a pardon for Willis A. Bogart, a former servant of Seward's and a Civil War veteran. Bogart had been sentenced to two years and six months in jail for committing a crime in Chicago.

Seward wrote the letter on March 12, 1866, almost one year after the death of Lincoln. The letter is written on black-bordered stationary known as mourning paper. Almost a full year after the assassination of Lincoln, Seward was still mourning his death.

Seward had served as Secretary of State under Lincoln and was one of his closest advisors in Washington. On the same evening Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, Seward was attacked by a knife-wielding co-conspirator of Booth's. Seward survived the attack and continued to serve as Secretary of State under Lincoln's successor, Andrew Johnson.

Oglesby was a close Illinois friend of Lincoln's who gave him the nickname "the Rail Splitter" at the 1860 Republican State Convention. He was elected three times as Illinois governor and once as a U. S. senator. Oglesby was in Washington, D. C. when Lincoln was assassinated and was present at his deathbed. He helped ensure that Lincoln was buried in Springfield, rather than Washington, and he became president of the National Lincoln Monument Association, the organization that constructed and maintained Lincoln's Tomb.

Points to Consider

In what ways does our nation mourn the death of a president?

What things in your town commemorate a past president?

Many textbooks mention "Seward's Folly." What is this and how has it affected our country?

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