I love reading stories of long-lost historical items being unearthed, and doubly so when they involve such finds as this. While it’s incredible to think that Congressional records are really this messy, imagine how it would feel to be the one shuffling through handwritten pages and seeing the signature A. Lincoln between your hands?
Lighty has been searching the records of the United States Senate at the National Archives for several months. As he examined records from the Thirty-seventh Congress, Lighty found a cross-reference sheet that gave locations for reports from the War, Navy and Interior Departments in a set of volumes. Although not part of his originally intended search, Lighty decided to request those volumes anyway. Archivist Rodney Ross retrieved them from the stacks, and within them, Lighty found the first page of one official copy and an entire second copy of Lincoln’s Second Annual Message, both of which were signed by Lincoln.
One copy of the 86-page message is signed on the last page by Abraham Lincoln and safely resides in the vault at the National Archives, but the first two pages had long been misfiled, until now. The first page contains the observation, “And while it has not pleased the Almighty to bless us with a return of peace, we can but press on, guided by the best light He gives us, trusting that in His own good time, and wise way, all will yet be well.” The second copy signed by Lincoln was not known to exist.