Commendation good enough for Abraham Lincoln

Dr Tim Verhoeven has unearthed a previously unknown document written by Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the USA.

Dr Tim Verhoeven has unearthed a previously unknown document written by Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the USA.

A Monash University historian has unearthed a previously unknown document written by Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States.

Dr Tim Verhoeven, from the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies, came across the document while undertaking research at the Manuscript Division of the Bibliothèque de Genève, Switzerland. He then informed the Papers of Abraham Lincoln project, who have now confirmed its authenticity and its status as a major discovery.

“I found this document while looking through the personal papers of Father Hyacinthe Loyson, a French Catholic priest who sensationally resigned from his Order on the eve of the first Vatican Council of 1869," Dr Verhoeven said.

“Before Father Loyson resigned, he had met an American widow Emily Merriman who was touring Europe. They fell in love and, in 1872, the two married. The new Lincoln document was contained in her papers.”

The document is contained in a letter of introduction written on 22 May 1863 for Ms Merriman by the most famous American preacher of the day, Henry Ward Beecher, brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Lincoln added several lines of recommendation for Ms Merriman in his own hand.

Dr Verhoeven cited Lincoln’s words in his book, Transatlantic Anti-Catholicism: France and the United States in the Nineteenth Century, where he discussed the relationship between Loyson and Merriman.

The researchers at the Papers of Abraham Lincoln Project have now uncovered more of the story around Ms Merriman and the Lincoln reference. Ms Merriman was one of the first female newspaper correspondents in the US, and met Lincoln whilst covering the inaugural ball of 1865 for the New York Times.

The Papers of Abraham Lincoln is a long-term project dedicated to finding and publishing all Lincoln documents. The project is administered through the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, and co-sponsored by the Centre for State Policy and Leadership at the University of Illinois Springfield and by the Abraham Lincoln Association.

Transatlantic Anti-Catholicism: France and the United States in the Nineteenth Century by Dr Timothy Verhoeven is published by Palgrave Macmillan.