Written days before the 1864 presidential election, this previously undiscovered brief note to an unspecified recipient ( but we feel more than likely his son), uses unusual language for Lincoln. He seems to congratulate, in a fatherly way, a younger man for delivering hopeful news about the upcoming election, held six days later on November 8, 1864. This item is new to market and never before offered being recently discovered by us. 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Autograph Note Signed, to unknown recipient, November 2, 1864, Washington, D.C. 1 p., slabbed to a completed size of 7.25" x 4.25." PSA authenticated and encapsulated insuring its genuineness and protection in perpetuity.

Complete Transcript

"Bravo! my good boy. Whether Mr L. shall be re-elected or not, he feels sure that you will stick to the cause of the country.
A. Lincoln
Nov. 2, 1864."

It employs Lincoln’s second known use of “Bravo.” Three weeks earlier, he had sent a cipher telegram to Indiana Governor Oliver P. Morton, congratulating Morton on his reelection on October 11. Lincoln concluded his October 13 telegram with “Bravo, for Indiana, and for yourself personally.” The state elections in Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania were seen as harbingers for the presidential election a month later. In the presidential election, Lincoln and Johnson won Indiana with 53.6 percent of the vote to McClellan’s 46.4 percent.

Lincoln also rarely used the phrase “the cause of the country.” It appears twice in his recorded 1861 writings, three times in 1862, twice in 1863, and none thereafter except this note. Among his most important uses of the phrase were in a May 9, 1862, dispatch to General George B. McClellan: “The success of your army and the cause of the country are the same”; and in a congratulatory message to the Army of the Potomac on December 22, 1862: “you possess all the qualities of a great army, which will yet give victory to the cause of the country and of popular government.” In this note, Lincoln refused to equate his reelection with the “cause of the country,” feeling victory in the Civil War to be more important than the election.

Lincoln’s use of “Mr. L.” about himself is unusual but not unprecedented. He used it frequently in the 1860 autobiography he wrote for John L. Scripps and also used it occasionally early in his presidency.

The familiar language used at the beginning of this note suggests that the recipient was close to the President, though he immediately returns to referring to himself in the third person. The brevity of the note suggests that it may have been sent as a telegram in response to a received telegram or letter. The tone of the note does not suggest it was written for a visitor to the President. For example, his note for a Methodist minister from Binghamton, New York, who visited the President at the White House that day reads, “For G. H. Blakeslee—A. Lincoln—Nov. 2, 1864.”

The reference to “my good boy” likely suggests Lincoln’s oldest son Robert T. Lincoln as the recipient, and the reference to “Mr L.” in the next sentence suggests a tongue-in-cheek joy. After graduating from Harvard College in July 1864, Robert T. Lincoln began attending Harvard Law School in September 1864. On October 11, the President telegraphed his son, “Your letter makes us a little uneasy about your health. Telegraph us how you are. If you think it would help you make us a visit.” Robert responded to his father by telegraph the same day, “Indisposition only temporarily I will write today.” In February 1865, President Lincoln signed the commission of his son as “Assistant Adjutant General of Volunteers with the rank of Captain” and Robert joined the staff of General Ulysses S. Grant for the final months of the war. Robert T. Lincoln finally received his L.L.D. from Harvard in June 1893.

Historical Background

The 1864 presidential election pitted President Lincoln against his Democratic challenger, General George B. McClellan. Although McClellan had been the commander of the Army of the Potomac and general-in-chief of the Union Army, the Peace platform adopted by the Democratic National Convention in Chicago declared the war a failure. The party was bitterly divided between War Democrats, who favored continuing the war to restore the Union while leaving slavery alone; moderate Peace Democrats, who favored an armistice and a negotiated peace that would likely protect slavery in a reconstructed union, and radical Peace Democrats, who favored an immediate end to the war without securing Union victory. McClellan was a War Democrat, but the platform was written by radical Peace Democrat Clement Vallandigham, and Peace Democrat George H. Pendleton was nominated for vice president.

In 1864, Republicans created the National Union Party to attract War Democrats, Unconditional Unionists, and Unionist Party members who would not vote for the Republican Party, though most state Republican parties did not change their name. President Abraham Lincoln won the nomination of the “National Union Party” at its Baltimore convention, and won re-election with his new running mate War Democrat Andrew Johnson.

Although Lincoln was convinced by August 1864 that he would not be reelected, General William T. Sherman’s capture of Atlanta in early September and General Philip Sheridan’s successes in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia from August to October ensured his victory. Without the participation of the seceded states, Lincoln and Johnson won 55 percent of the popular vote and an overwhelming 212-to-21 victory in the Electoral College. McClellan and Pendleton carried only Kentucky, Delaware, and McClellan’s home state of 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.


Accepted Forms of Payment:

American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Money Order / Cashiers Check, Paypal, Personal Check, Visa, Wire Transfer


Unless otherwise indicated, we do our own in-house worldwide shipping!

Applicable shipping and handling charges will be added to the invoice. We offer several shipping options, and remain one of the few auction houses who proudly provides professional in-house shipping as an option to our clients. All items will ship with signature required, and full insurance. Most items are sent via Federal Express, with P. O. Box addresses being sent through USPS. We insure through Berkley Asset Protection with rates of $.70 per $100 of value, among the lowest insurance rates in the industry. Our shipping department cameras document every package, both outgoing and incoming, for maximum security. In addition, we compare our shipping and handling rates against those of other auction houses, to ensure that our charges are among the lowest in the trade.

Upon winning your item(s), you will receive an invoice with our in-house shipping and handling fees included. ***We will ship to the address as it appears on your invoice. If any changes to the shipping address need to be made, you must inform us immediately.***

International shipments: In order to comply with our insurance provider, all international shipments will be sent via Fed Ex and customs paperwork will show a value of $1.00. International buyers should contact our office directly with any questions regarding this policy.

Third Party Shipping Option: If a third party shipper is preferred, the buyer is responsible for contacting them directly to make shipping arrangements. For your convenience, we have provided some recommended shippers. For your protection, we will require a signed release from you, confirming your authorization for us to release your lots to your specified third party Please copy and paste this following link into your browser: At that point, our responsibility and insurance coverage for your item(s) ceases. Items picked up by third party shippers are required to pay Connecticut sales tax. Items requiring third party shipping due to being oversized, fragile or bulky will be denoted in the item description.

Please see our full terms and conditions for names of suggested third party shippers.

After payment has been made in full, University Archives will ship your purchase within 10 business days following receipt of full payment for item.

Please remember that the buyer is responsible for all shipping costs from University Archives' offices in Wilton, CT to the buyer's door. Please see full Terms and Conditions of Sale.

University Archives

You agree to pay a buyer's premium of up to 25% and any applicable taxes and shipping.

View full terms and conditions

Bid Increments
From: To: Increments:
$0 $99 $10
$100 $299 $20
$300 $499 $25
$500 $999 $50
$1,000 $1,999 $100
$2,000 $2,999 $200
$3,000 $4,999 $250
$5,000 $9,999 $500
$10,000 $19,999 $1,000
$20,000 $49,999 $2,500
$50,000 + $5,000