The Raab Collection, a Philadelphia-based purveyor of historic autographs, is taking advantage of the Oscars-induced Lincoln frenzy with the sale of a letter written by First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln on April 18, 1864, a year before her husband’s assassination. It’s going for $15,000.
Preparing for the following day’s White House reception, Mrs. Lincoln wrote the letter to the assistant secretary of the treasury to request that security guard Charles Forbes watch their 11-year-old son Tad while they were busy with the event.
“It’s sort of odd to think of them writing a Treasury Department official asking Lincoln’s footman to come, essentially his body guard, to come babysit one of their young children,” Nathan Raab told CBS. “But that’s what happened here. And, in fact, he often babysat for young Tad.”
Of course, Mrs. Lincoln’s trust of Forbes would later crumble once it came to light that he was the guard who opened the door for John Wilkes Booth at the theater where the President was assassinated.
— Rachel Corbett
(Photo: Detail of Mary Todd Lincoln’s letter, for sale at the Raab Collection)