Abraham Lincoln PSA MINT 9 Civil War-Dated Pass to Banished Confederate War Widow

A Civil War-dated pass signed and inscribed by 16th U.S. President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) as: "Allow Mrs. J.K. Dougherty of Clay County, Mo. to remain in New Jersey so long as she does not misbehave. Feb. 17, 1865 A. Lincoln." February 17, 1865. N.p. [Washington, D.C.] Encapsulated and PSA/DNA graded MINT 9. Expected wear including toning. Scattered isolated water stains including one touching the last few letters of "Lincoln." Else near fine and very legible. The card measures 3.125" x 1.875" while the slab measures 5.25" x 3.125." The pass is not found within the "Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln" compiled by the University of Michigan.

The card with actual spacing appears as:

"Allow Mrs. J.K. Dougher
ty of Clay County, Mo.
to remain in New Jer
sey so long as she
does not misbehave.

Feb. 17, 1865 A. Lincoln."

President Lincoln issued this pass to "Mrs. J.K. Dougherty." This was almost certainly Mrs. John Kerr Dougherty of Clay County, Missouri, a Confederate war widow. Born Irene Frances Reed (1839-1889), she had married John Kerr Dougherty (1835-1864) in 1856. John Kerr Dougherty was the youngest son of Major John Dougherty (1791-1860), a wealthy Missourian fur trapper, slave-holding landowner, Indian agent, interpreter, and Whig politician in the state legislature. The elder Dougherty's final residence, Multnomah, was located in Liberty, Clay County, Missouri, in a region known as "Little Dixie" near the state's western border with Kansas.

John Kerr Dougherty enlisted as a Sergeant in Co. D, 3rd Missouri Infantry Regiment, a Confederate unit organized near Springfield in January 1862. He was killed during the Battle of Franklin on November 30, 1864, and was interred at the McGavock Confederate Cemetery near the battle field. John Kerr Dougherty's older brother Lewis Bissell Dougherty (1828-1925) served as First Lieutenant in the same Confederate regiment.

What was Mrs. J.K. Dougherty, a Confederate officer's wife, doing up North in February 1865? She was following the terms of her military banishment from Clay County, Missouri, originally issued by Acting Provost Marshal General Joseph Darr, Jr. on November 15, 1865, just two weeks before her husband's death.

The details of Mrs. J.K. Dougherty's exile can be found by consulting contemporary newspapers, notably the November 19, 1864 and January 2, 1865 issues of the "Daily Missouri Republican" (please see scans of these articles included for reference.) Special Orders No. 294, dispatched from the Headquarters of the Missouri Office of the Provost Marshal General at St. Louis, Missouri, ordered that "Mrs. J.K. Dougherty," along with her sister-in-law (Mrs. Lewis Dougherty) and a half a dozen other "female residents of Clay county, Missouri" report within 30 days to headquarters, "for the purpose of being sent beyond the lines of the United States forces."

Mrs. J.K. Dougherty and the other women, some of them accompanied by young children, presented themselves at Liberty, Missouri on December 22, 1865, after which the party was "forwarded under a military escort to St. Louis." Their destination was Memphis, Tennessee, which was "beyond the Federal lines." Possible editorial bias temporarily put aside, the newspaper explained that "The offences [sic] of these ladies consisted in having husbands or sons in the rebel army." It is unknown whether Mrs. J.K. Dougherty knew at this point--a month after the Battle of Franklin--that her husband had been killed. It is more than possible that she knew she was being banished for her dead husband's military service.

Less than two months later, in mid-February 1865, Mrs. J.K. Dougherty applied to President Lincoln for permission to reside in New Jersey, well "beyond the lines of the United States forces" where she could not abet or assist the Confederates in any way. It has been proposed elsewhere that the phrase used in Lincoln's pass, "so long as she does not misbehave" was mischievous. It is much more feasible, however, that Lincoln was deadly serious: it was imperative that all Confederate sympathizers, particularly those with personal axes to grind (a Confederate family member killed in action, subject sentenced to military exile, etc.) be vigilantly overseen and controlled, as a matter of national security.

It has been suggested by amateur presidential autograph collector Dr. William R. Coleman in the Fall 1975 issue of "Manuscripts" that Mrs. J.K. Dougherty wanted to go to New Jersey to find her husband's body. This is highly improbable, as her husband's remains were located hundreds of miles to the southwest in Tennessee, around where the 3rd Missouri Infantry Regiment was known to have been fighting. We contend that Mrs. J.K. Dougherty may have been seeking out her sister-in-law, Annie Dougherty Ruff (1824-1909), whose husband, Union General Charles Frederick Ruff, was stationed at Philadelphia during the Civil War. Annie later died in Bay Head, New Jersey.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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