Lincoln’s life in New Salem has been known with a considerable degree of fullness to biographers. But the episode which must have seemed to Lincoln himself to transcend all other experiences in that brief but important period—his love for Ann Rutledge has been the subject of conjecture, confusion, and doubt. Eminent students have denied altogether the reality of Lincoln’s passion for Ann; others have accepted the tradition in general outline. Now it becomes possible to reveal in full light and at first hand the story—so full of tenderness and hope, so tragic in its close—which has hitherto rested on contestable report. Not only did Lincoln and Ann hold each other dear; the actual letters which passed between them remain. We have also a diary kept by Ann’s cousin and intimate, ‘Mat’ Cameron, naively recording her observations of the courtship. With these precious letters and Mat’s unstudied diary have been preserved other fresh and valuable memorabilia of Lincoln. We have letters which he wrote to John Calhoun, former Surveyor of Sangamon County, Illinois, who employed Lincoln and was closely associated with him during the New Salem years; a memorandum written by Calhoun’s daughter Sally in 1848, embodying her father’s recollections of… Read full this story
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