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The American statesman, Lincoln's ambassador to France, writes as President of the New York Public Library, trying to track down old associates. A rare signature!
Typed Letter signed: "Yours very Sincerely,/ John Bigelow" in black ink, 3p, 6¼x7½. New York Public Library, President's Office, 1905 March 31. To Edgar S. Van Winkle, Esq. in full, with handwritten additions in bold face: "I am greatly obliged to you for what appears to be a complete list of the members of the Column. I have a list given to me - I think I received it from Mr. Pritchard - when it became my turn to preside at one of our monthly dinners. Curiously enough, the name which does not appear on my list and which I had tried in vain to recall, is of the person to whom you are indebted for the list you have kindly sent me. It is so long since I had any tidings of Mr. Whittemore, who took up his residence in Liverpool I believe or somewhere in England before the Civil War, that I presumed he had long since gone to join the majority, but of this I had no evidence. By your list I learn that he died in the same year as Mr. Evarts, so that when I proposed to Mr. Evarts (or rather to his son-in-law, Mr. Beaman) that Evarts, Godwin and I, as the only surviving members of the Column, should present its symbol to the Century, we should have given it but an imperfect title. Am I correct in supposing that the 'William L. Whittemore' from whom you received this list is a son of the William T. Whittemore of the Column? And if so, - as the letters 'T' and 'L' are so easily and so often mistaken for each other - that the middle word of their names differed? This is a matter of little importance, as in our law. De medias [sic minimis?] nominis non curat lex; still, Henry Clay many years ago set the pace by which every patriotic American strives to march when he said, 'I would rather be right than be President.' If as I presume, you have kept the original letter of your correspondent with the list he forwarded, can you make a better use of it than to send it to the Column, with a brief history of its acquisition by you, that it may be placed among the archives with the symbol?/ I presume you have a copy of an Anniversary Poem written by your father in 1835 and printed in '53. If you have not, it will give me pleasure to send you one. I have already sent one to the Century Association. I thank you again for your thoughtfulness in sending me this list, and also for the sympathetic terms of the note which accompanied it." New York lawyer and newspaper editor John Bigelow (1817-1911) broke with the Democratic Party on the issue of slavery, and was active in formation of the Republican Party. He was appointed by President Lincoln to diplomatic posts in France during the Civil War, rising to the position of Ambassador, and working successfully with Charles Francis Adams, his counterpart in Britain, to prevent British and French recognition of the Confederacy. Returning to the Democratic Party, he served as New York's Secretary of State under Governor Samuel Tilden, and managed Tilden's Presidential campaign of 1876. He wrote several books on international relations, as well as biographies of Tilden and of Benjamin Franklin. He later served as President of the New York Public Library. The plaza fronting the main branch is named in his honor. Corners worn and creased. Normal mailing folds. Light surface creases. Ink slightly haloed, but all legible. Edges slightly creased. Otherwise, fine condition.

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Born: November 25, 1817 in Malden-on-Hudson, New York
Died: December 19, 1911 in New York City, New York

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