Tuesday, June 9, 2009
A very rare and priceless document signed by Abraham Lincoln has been found in the Hawaii State Archives. Scholars are thrilled with the find, but are puzzled how it ended up in Hawaii.
What makes this letter so unique is its association with The Emancipation Proclamation. Although Lincoln signed the Emancipation on January 1, 1863, he had issued a Preliminary Proclamation on September 22, 1862 which basically gave notice of his intended actions concerning slavery in the Confederacy if the states were still in rebellion on the first day of 1863.
This letter found in Hawaii was also issued on September 22, 1862 and is a directive to Lincoln's Secretary of State, William H. Seward, to affix the Seal Of The United States to the Preliminary Proclamation in order to make it official. The Preliminary Proclamation itself is in the New York State Library.
An expert from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum traveled to Hawaii to verify the letter's authenticity. While it will remain in the Hawaii archives, there is a possibly that it will be loaned to the museum in Springfield, Illinois. The image in this post is of the letter.
The mystery is just how did this document end up in Hawaii in the first place? Speculation thus far has settled on a collector named Bruce Cartwright, who is known to have come to Hawaii in 1935 and donated numerous documents to the archives. The truth may never be known.