Can a Letter Change History?

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Slide 1

Can a letter change history? A closer look at historical documents

Slide 2

Discuss who the following person from history is…

Slide 5

Discuss changes you noticed between the 2 images.

Slide 6

Why do you think he has a beard now?

Slide 7

In 1860, eleven-year-old Grace Bedell penned a letter to then presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln, suggesting that he might “look a great deal better” with whiskers. Her letter touched Lincoln. In fact, he grew a beard. Grace Bedell met Lincoln in person the following year as his inaugural train journeyed to Washington, D.C. The meeting had a profound impact upon the rest of her life.

Slide 8

Here is a copy of her letter to Abraham Lincoln

Slide 10

Envelope the letter came in

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Content of letter

Slide 13

Discuss things you notice about the letter.

Slide 14

Here is how Mr. Lincoln responded

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Miss Grace Bedell, My dear little Miss Your very agreeable letter of the 15th is received - I regret the necessity of saying I have no daughters - I have three sons - one seventeen, one nine, and one seven years of age - They, with their mother, constitute my whole family - As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think people would call it a piece of silly affection if I were to begin it now? Your very sincere well wisher A. Lincoln (The original letter was sold to a private party)

Slide 16

Here is a photograph of Abraham Lincoln after the Civil War. This was taken 5 years after the 2nd image from earlier.

Slide 18

Discuss changes

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Credits Source: Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Department of Education 212 North Sixth Street Springfield, IL 62701

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