1. Creator/Author:
  2. Berry Brothers, Ltd. (2)

Bixby Letter Print

Berry Brothers, Ltd.
Michigan, Detroit
Origin Date:
overall: 12 in x 9 1/2 in
Item ID:
Holding Institution:
Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection, courtesy of the Indiana State Museum
Available for Viewing:
Fine Art


This print features a head and shoulders engraved portrait of President Abraham Lincoln in the upper left corner with the text in script of his letter to Mrs. Bixby below. The publisher's name and a note are in the lower left corner: "An engrossed copy of this fac simile letter of President Lincoln to Mrs. Bixby, hangs on the walls of Brasenose College, Oxford University, England, as a specimen of the purest English and most elegant diction extant. It is said that as a model of expressive English, it has rarely, if ever, been surpassed. We are sending out copies of this letter, with the feeling that every home where it hangs upon the wall, will, in some way, be bettered." In September of 1864, Massachusetts Governor John A. Andrew wrote the War Department suggesting that the President write Mrs. Lydia Bixby, a Boston widow who purportedly had lost five sons in the war, a letter of condolence. President Lincoln wrote the letter on November 21, 1864, which was delivered to Mrs. Bixby by Massachusetts Adjutant-General William Schouler on November 24, 1864. Apparently he had stopped by the Boston Evening Transcript newspaper office on the way to Mrs. Bixby's house because the text of the letter was published in the November 25, 1864, afternoon "second edition" of the newspaper. The text of the letter is known only by the newspaper account as the original handwritten letter has never been found. The Bixby letter is widely regarded as one of Lincoln's finest, although some controversy exists concerning the authorship of the letter. The text reads: To Mrs. Bixby, Boston, Mass., Dear Madam, I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjustant 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" Part of the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection, courtesy of the Indiana State Museum