Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
(800) 937-3880

Lot #43
Mary Todd Lincoln Autograph Letter Signed on Lincoln Assassination Conspiracy

Mary Todd implicates President Johnson in the Lincoln assassination conspiracy: "That miserable inebriate Johnson, had cognizance, of my husband's death"

This lot has closed

Estimate: $40000+
Sell a Similar Item?


Mary Todd implicates President Johnson in the Lincoln assassination conspiracy: "That miserable inebriate Johnson, had cognizance, of my husband's death"

ALS signed “Mary Lincoln,” four pages on two adjoining sheets, 5.25 x 8, March 15, [1866]. Handwritten letter to her friend Mrs. Sally Orne in Philadelphia, marked "Private," in full: "I neglected to request you to send me the pamphlet, you spoke of, if you have a spare copy. My own intense misery, has been augmented, by the same thought—that, that miserable inebriate Johnson, had cognizance, of my husband's death—Why, was that card, of Booth's found, in his box, some acquaintance certainly existed. I have been deeply impressed, with the harrowing thought, that he, had an understanding, with the conspirators & they, knew their man. Did not Booth, say, 'There was one thing, he would not tell.' There is said, to be honor, among thieves. No one ever heard, of Johnson, regretting my sainted husband's death, he never wrote me a line of condolence, and behaved in the most brutal way. Why, is not Davis, brought to trial? As sure, as you & I live, Johnson, had some hand, in all this—if he does not receive his condemnation here (and I think, he is receiving it), if there is a place of reward & punishments—as there surely is—his fate, will be to suffer—he is too hardened to feel, in this world. I will trouble you no more today or perhaps, for some time." In a postscript penned on the reverse, Lincoln bolsters her case for conspiracy: "Another, most important item, in this case, why did Preston King, commit suicide—I knew him well & naturally, a more cheerful man, never lived, did, this lady, cite his case? A bosom friend of Johnson—hearing knowledge of this transaction, naturally good hearted—he could not live—Talk of insanity—it was not so." In fine condition, with light overall creasing, and minor splitting to the ends of the folds. On the afternoon of April 14, 1865—just hours before shooting President Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre—John Wilkes Booth left a visiting card in the mail box of Vice President Andrew Johnson's private secretary, William A. Browning, at the Kirkwood House hotel in Washington, DC, where both men were staying. In pencil, Booth wrote: 'Don't wish to disturb you. Are you at home? J. Wilkes Booth.' Most historians believe that the card was left for Vice President Johnson—either to ascertain his location and make him a target of the assassination conspiracy, or, possibly, to implicate him as a conspirator. If the latter was Booth's intent, his gambit proved successful—Mary Todd Lincoln, in the grievous aftermath of her husband's brutal murder, believed that the card represented a connection between Johnson and Booth, and was thus evidence of a conspiracy at the highest levels of government. Mrs. Lincoln further notes that Johnson failed to console her upon her husband's death, and also declined to prosecute Jefferson Davis for leading the rebel states. She goes on to posit that Preston King, a former senator and close friend of Andrew Johnson—and who was largely responsible for Johnson's vice-presidential nomination—learned the truth of the matter and killed himself: on November 13, 1865, King committed suicide by tying a bag of bullets around his neck and leaping from a ferryboat in New York Harbor. Contemporary reporting in the New York Times said that King's 'nervous system has been seriously deranged for nearly three weeks,' and that he had been overwhelmed with stress from his efforts to eliminate corruption in New York's customs department. A remarkable and historic handwritten letter by the former first lady as she sought to make sense of her husband's tragic death. Past sales history: Sotheby's, Fine Printed and Manuscript Americana, March 15, 1986.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autograph and Artifacts Featuring Presidents
  • Dates: #658 - Ended February 08, 2023

This item is Pre-Certified by PSA/DNA
Buy a third-party letter of authenticity for $75.00

*This item has been pre-certified by a trusted third-party authentication service, and by placing a bid on this item, you agree to accept the opinion of this authentication service. If you wish to have an opinion rendered by a different authenticator of your choosing, you must do so prior to your placing of any bid. RR Auction is not responsible for differing opinions submitted 30 days after the date of the sale.