The Lookout

Note from Lincoln spares soldier’s life

The Lookout
Copyright National  Archives
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Copyright National Archives

Abraham Lincoln declared the end of slavery with his Emancipation Proclamation. But he also reviewed death sentences of soldiers who were  court-martialed during the Civil War.

Slate's David Plotz renewed interest in one such hand-written note he saw after he toured the National Archives' vaults recently.

The document immortalizes Lincoln's decision to spare a soldier's life. Michael Delaney had deserted one Colorado regiment in 1862, but was fighting for another when he was arrested. Lincoln overturned the death sentence since the man had re-enlisted, writing with dazzling succinctness,

Let him fight instead of being shot. A Lincoln

As Slate's Plotz noted, "I guess it's not surprising that the author of the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Address could manage to convey humanity, common sense, and a flash of dark wit in just seven words."

A post on the Facebook page (yes, it has one) of the Foundation for the National Archives adds, "This document is a great example of how even the tiniest margin notes can make a record breathtaking."

A spokesperson for the National Archives emailed Yahoo News that Lincoln's note is not a new discovery. As the Atlantic Wire makes clear, the message has been previously documented in biographies of the 16th president.

More than a footnote in history, this little gem is certainly new to us, and worth a look.

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