Lincoln Letters

In June of 1995, while browsing the shelves of The Book Baron in Anaheim, California, I can across a small red leather volume titled, Lincoln Letters: First Public Suggestion of Mr. Lincoln's Name as Presidential Nominee, by Clara Green Murphy. The book (Monaghan 1730) reproduces a letter written by Murphy's father, Israel Green, to the Cincinnati Gazette, dated November 6, 1858, and a letter from Green to his daughter dated November 3, 1882.

The 1858 letter to the editor of the Cincinnati Gazette is purported to be the first public suggestion in a newspaper of the possibility of Lincoln running for President. The letter from Green to his daughter relates the circumstances surrounding the letter to the Gazette.

Tipped inside the back cover of the book is a reproduction of the original letter, that was written by Israel Green shortly after Lincoln was elected president, using the same text as the 1858 letter. A statement below the reproduction reveals that at the time the book was published (1909), the letter was owned by Green's nephew, R.M. Green.

This little book was published by Clara Green Murphy in an edition of six copies, all reserved for members of her family. My copy is inscribed by Murphy to R.M. Green, the then owner of the reproduction letter in Israel Green's hand. On a free endpaper of the book are four small slits, and I speculate that R.M. Green had stored the original letter in this book. However, this statement will forever remain as speculation, due to the fact that when I bought the book, the letter was not laid in.

Due to the brevity of this slim volume, I am able to reprint its entire contents:

Lincoln Letters
by Clara Green Murphy

First Public Suggestion of Mr. Lincoln's Name as a Presidential Nominee, By Israel Green, With Letter to His Daughter, Giving Reasons for Same

The Kelmscott Press
Downer's Grove

In Loving Remembrance of my Father C.G.M.

A Ticket for 1860
Correspondence of the Cincinnati Gazette

Findlay, Ohio, Nov. 6, 1858.

Permit a daily reader of your valuable paper, residing in the Northwest, to suggest to the consideration of the triumphant and united a Opposition, the names of the following distinguished and patriotic statesmen as standard-bearers in the approaching Presidential election:

For President,
Abraham Lincoln
of Illinois. Vice-President,
John P. Kennedy, of Maryland.

There, sir, is a ticket that can command and receive the united support of the entire Opposition.

With the above ticket in the field; with a banner on which shall be inscribed Union and Harmony; protection to American capital and American labor, skill and enterprise; improvement of Western rivers and harbors; free labor, and unrelenting opposition to the interference of the General Government in favor of the spread of slavery; opposition to any further acquisition of foreign territory; to humbug squatter sovereignty; to the principles involved in the Dred Scott decision. Let us oppose the appointment to office of profit members of either branch of Congress during the term for which they shall be elected; oppose extravagance and favoritism in the public expenses, and favor a return to the early principles and practices of the founders of our Government. Let us preserve the elective franchise, pure and untarnished.

With such standard-bearers and such a platform, the great Opposition, or American-Republican party, can go before the people of the nation in 1860 with the full assurance of a triumphant victory over the present Pro-Slavery Democracy.

A Member of the Philadelphia Convention in 1856.

This letter was republished June 18, 1860, with an editorial introductory, in these words:

First Nomination of Lincoln.

The first proposal of Mr. Lincoln's name for the Presidential nomination, in any public journal, as far as we are aware, was made by a correspondent of the "Gazette," and published in our columns on the 10th of November, 1858.

The writer of the letter was Israel Green, at that time a resident of Findlay, Ohio.

Letter of Israel Green to his daughter, Mrs. Clara Green-Murphy:

Mt. Vernon, Ohio, Nov. 8, 1882

My Dear Daughter:

I am in receipt of your welcome letter of the 1st inst. I have only one copy of the "Daily Cincinnati Gazette," containing my letter suggesting Abraham Lincoln for President in 1860, written at Findlay, Ohio, where, you will remember, we were living at the time, Nov. 6, 1858.

I do not claim any great merit in the composition of the letter, for it was penned in a great hurry, under the following circumstances:

You will remember that I aided in organizing the Republican party, in this State, on the 17th of June, 1854, as a delegate from Morgan County. Was a delegate from the Muskingum, Washington, and Morgan Congressional District in the memorable Philadelphia National Convention, June 17, 1856; voted for the nomination of Fremont, and aided in securing his nomination as the first Presidential candidate of the young and vigorous Republican party. From the State and National organizations of the party to the present time I have taken and active interest in its success, rejoiced when victories were gained under its banners, and mourned when defeated.

In 1858, Judge Douglass and Mr. Lincoln were opposing candidates for U.S. Senator from the State of Illinois. Lincoln challenged Douglass to meet him in joint debate in each of the Congressional districts of that state, and discuss before the people the principles advocated by the two parties. I carefully read the speeches, replies, and rejoinders of each; and on the 6th November, while sitting alone in my drug store in Findlay, thinking of the masterly speeches made by Lincoln at the several points in the state, how ably and grandly he bore himself; the great enthusiasm his presence and manners aroused among the people; the love the masses seemed to have for him, I said to myself, "There is the very man the Republican party should nominate for President in 1860." So thinking, I went to my desk and hastily wrote the letter in question, and it appeared in the Gazette on the 10th. In May, 1860, the Chicago Convention nominated Lincoln for President and he was triumphantly elected. There never sat in the presidential chair a man more beloved, trusted, and confided in than "Honest Old Abe."

Sincerely and truly yours,

Israel Green

The inscription inside the front cover of the book reads:

To R.M. Green
July 9th 1909 Oroville Calf.
From cousin
Clara Green Murphy
Delphi Ind.

Abraham Lincoln Toni Kin Qa Aesop Towoyake Kin.

by James W. Garvie

Collectors, by their nature, are a strange breed. I have yet to figure out the Beanie Baby craze. It never fails to amaze me at how much some folks are prepared to pay for those little sacks of dried beans. I have argued that McDonalds would be further ahead in their corporate profits if they would only trash their food line and sell foodless "happy meals" to the unending lines of blue-haired old ladies trying to obtain the rare "Blinky the Rat" Teenie Beanie Baby with a crisp hang tag (mint in the bag, of course).
I, on the other hand, can hide behind my obsession for accumulating Lincoln books and pamphlets by claiming that they can be read and used, unlike the Beanie Babies stuffed into countless dresser drawers across the nation. I read and use my books, and they add to my understanding of Abraham Lincoln, the Civil war, and nineteenth century politics. However, there are times, I must admit, when this thinly veiled rationale for an otherwise irrational mania to "collect" breaks down. The presence of certain titles that can be found in my library raises suspicion (particularly on the part of my wife) as to the utilitarian nature of my collection.

An excellent example of such an item is Abraham Lincoln Toni Kin Qa Aesop Towoyake Kin. It contains a brief sketch of the life of Lincoln and several of Aesop's fables. It does not, however, pass muster as a pamphlet that I can read, as it is written in the Santee Native American dialect.

After the American policy of extermination left the Native American nations decimated, the United States government turned to trying to assimilate those Natives Americans who were left.
1 Accordingly, young Native Americans were regularly shipped off to boarding schools where there were immersed in the Anglo-American way of life. One such school for the Lakota (Sioux) nation was operated by Alfred L. Riggs at the Santee Indian Agency in Nebraska.

From 1884 to 1900, the Santee school employed James W. Garvie as a teacher. Garvie was half Native American, being the son of a Sioux mother and a Scottish father. Garvie's father, a merchant by trade, had moved to St. Paul, Minnesota in 1852. It was here that he met Garvie's mother, who was a granddaughter of Rising Thunder, a chief from the Sissetonais nation. Their son, James, was born on August 10, 1862. Not long after, the elder Garvie was killed trying to protect his merchandise during the infamous Sioux uprising in late 1862.

At a very young age, James Garvie himself was sent off to a Mission boarding school; the Presbyterian Mission School at Sisseton, South Dakota. He prospered there and did well enough to be able to continue his education by enrolling in Beloit College, in Wisconsin. He studied at Beloit from 1878 until 1881, when his mother died. He thereafter devoted his life to teaching Native Americans.

While in the employ of the Santee School, Garvie was responsible for translating documents, articles and pamphlets into the Santee dialect. He was also a regular contributor to the periodical Iapi Oaye, popular among the plains Indians.

In 1893, Riggs had Garvie prepare a brief outline of the Life of Abraham Lincoln. Riggs felt that the story of Lincoln's efforts to provide an education for himself would be an excellent object lesson for the youngsters attending the Santee School. To fill out the small pamphlet, eight of Aesop's fables were added to the Lincoln sketch. The fables were translated by Miss Jennie W. Cox and Miss Eunice Kitto.

The whole was printed by the students at the Santee School, obviously serving as another vehicle for some students, those learning the printing trade. The end product was 5-1/2" x 4-3/8". The sketch of Lincoln occupies pages 1 through 17. Following a blank page, the Aesop's fable section begins, and the pagination begins anew, running an additional 10 pages. The interior pages are sewn together and the whole then pasted into the stiff outer wrapper.

Apparently the pamphlet was intended for the internal use of the Santee School, for it did not receive a wide circulation. The publication went unnoticed by all the major early Lincoln bibliographers and collectors. In fact, it was lost in obscurity until the early 1940s, when some 25 to 30
2 copies were discovered by Joseph L. McCorison, Jr., a Lincoln enthusiast and then President of Yankton College of Yankton, South Dakota. McCorison announced his discovery in the September 1943 issue of The Abraham Lincoln Quarterly.3 When McCorison wrote his article, James Garvie was still alive and was able to provide McCorison with many facts pertinent to the little pamphlet, as well as a brief outline of the narrative.4

Being unable to read Santee, I will never be able to read is Abraham Lincoln Toni Kin Qa Aesop Towoyake Kin. But I am pleased to own a copy of this rarity nonetheless.

1 The editorial opinions of the treatment of Native Americans by the United States government are entirely my own.
2 Monaghan (3856) notes 24 copies.
3 J.L. McCorison, Jr. "The Lincoln Collector: A Unique Dakota Biography of Lincoln" in The Abraham Lincoln Quarterly (Springfield: The Abraham Lincoln Association, 1943) 334-339. McCorison's narrative contains references to Native Americans that this author found to be of questionable taste, but not unusual for the day and age.
4 McCorison stated in his article that he planned to publish a complete translation of the sketch of Lincoln's life as written by Garvie. I have been unable to find any further reference to this translation. If anyone knows of such a translation, I would be grateful if they would communicate the fact to me.

© Copyright Daniel E. Pearson, 1999


I have recently learned that Lincolniana dealer Chuck Hand is offering for sale a copy of Abraham Lincoln Toni Kin. This offers readers of this website the unusual opportunity to obtain a rare copy of this highly collectable pamphlet. You can email Mr. Hand by clicking on this link: Chuck Hand.