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Long-Lost Letter Sheds Light on Lincoln’s Faith

(RNS) On the eve of the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, a long-lost letter has surfaced that describes President Abraham Lincoln’s belief in God.

The Raab Collection of Philadelphia plans to sell a recently discovered letter written in 1866 by William Herndon, a Springfield, Ill., lawyer and Lincoln confidant.

“Mr. Lincoln’s religion is too well known to me to allow of even a shadow of a doubt; he is or was a Theist & a Rationalist, denying all extraordinary — supernatural inspiration or revelation,” wrote Herndon of the nation’s 16th president.

“At one time in his life, to say the least, he was an elevated Pantheist, doubting the immortality of the soul as the Christian world understands that term. He believed that the soul lost its identity and was immortal as a force. Subsequent to this he rose to the belief of a God.”


The collection estimates the letter is worth $35,000.

Lincoln’s faith has long been an elusive topic for historians. He was never baptized, did not join a church and usually did not discuss his beliefs.

“In rare instances, he divulged his true feelings to one close friend, longtime confidant and law partner, William Herndon,” said Nathan Raab, vice president of the Raab Collection. “He did believe in God, however difficult it might be to easily define those beliefs.”

– ADELLE M. BANKS, Religion News Service

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    Obviously one of my favorite presidents didn’t push his faith on anyone or run around broadcasting it. Knew he was a smart man!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Deal

    Lincoln allowed his wife to hold seances in the White House to contact her dead son. To my knowledge he never participated. However, the man is the head of the household and this is an abomination to our LORD.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cmaglaughlin

    After the death of his little boy, Willie and a trip to Gettysburg, Lincoln shared with his pastor his deep sadness and despair. He listened to his pastor’s encouraging words that, “in Christ,” he would see his Willy again in heaven. Right there Lincoln became a Christian. In fact, a letter from his pastor shares how, after leaving the Presidency, Lincoln was looking forward to going overseas and becoming a missionary for Christ. Here is just a snippet quote from his wife:

    “… As my husband was known to be the most loving and devoted husband & father we will allow these falsehoods a place where they deserve. We all — the whole world have been greatly shocked — at the fearful ideas — Herndon — has advanced regarding Mr. Lincoln’s religious views. You, who knew him so well & held so many conversations with him, as far back as twenty years since, know what they were. A man, who never took the name of the Maker in vain, who always read his Bible diligently, who never failed to rely on God’s promises & looked upon Him for protection, surely such a man as this, could not have been a disbeliever, or any other than what he was, a true Christian gentleman. No one, but such a man as Herndon could venture — to suggest such an idea. From the time of the death of our little Edward, I believe my husband’s heart was directed towards religion & as time passed on – when Mr. Lincoln became elevated to Office – with the care of a great Nation, upon his shoulders – when devastating war was upon us then indeed to my knowledge – did his great heart go up daily, hourly, in prayer to God – for his sustaining power. When too – the overwhelming sorrow came upon us, our beautiful bright angelic boy, Willie was called away from us, to his Heavenly Home, with God’s chastising hand upon us – he turned his heart to Christ

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    Deal, I really hope you’re kidding with the crack about “the man being head of the household. OMG—that is such BS, and/or extremely sexist. Men and women are equal, Deal, incase you haven’t come into the 21st century yet.

    As for Mrs. Lincoln having seances in the White House–so what? She was in misery having lost their son. If this helped her handle her grief—why not? Losing a child has got to be one of the most horrible experiences in life, as the parents are not suppose to outlive their children. How is trying to get in contact with a loved one who has died be an abomination to anyone’s diving being? It’s not.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cmaglaughlin

    The definitive treatise on the subject…Very interesting, to say the least!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    pagan the man is the head of the household, man and woman were not created to be equal. I defend my wife not the other way around, if there is a noise downstairs in the dead of night I don’t hand my wife the gun and say go see about it honey. Some Americans try to emasculate men and turn women into what men and it is not right and a bad thing to confuse kids with.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    cknuck, no one said you can’t defend your wife and try to save her from the intruder etc. My man would do the same thing, but I’m saying I’d do the same thing to defend my husband. Our marriage is equal—he and I make decisions together, not him telling me what is going to be done nor do I tell him. My impression from Deal was that Males are superior to women, thus they run things—-unfortunately in the past husbands basically owned their wives, and the women legally had no rights at all. At least in my house and that of my parents and grandparents that wasn’t true, because of their marriage relationship AND the laws of the land that were changed (women were finally acknowledged as having brains & RIGHTS as human beings, and were no one’s property—could vote, work outside the home if they wanted etc). So as to the statement that women weren’t created equal? I totally disagree with you—–and if the Bible says so? Well, I certainly disagree with it (on that and a lot of other issues, but that’s for another time). I (we) raised my beautiful daughter (who happens to be a 2nd degree Black Belt in TKD and a wonderfully kind and compassionate woman) to be her own person, and not be 2nd to any man (or woman for that matter). I (we) raised our son to realize and understand that women were his equal, legally and in every other way. He too is a kind and compassionate man. Both are married to partners that they treat as equals. IMO, that is the way it should be.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Deal

    The head of woman is her husband, and the head of man is Christ Jesus and the head of Christ Jesus is God the Father. It is an attitude of submissiveness and not a code of conduct. Whether you believe it or not does not matter for that is the pattern that God the Father has established. Any woman having problems with that should realize that even Jesus Himself submitted to God the Father. He was always in total submission to God the Father. Necromancy is abomination. Read Deuteronomy. It is an examplery for us today of what our LORD’s estimate is towards trying to contact the dead and in those days you were stoned to death. It brings a curse upon the person and their family. Lincoln was assassinated and his wife was “mentally” off the remainer of her life.A direct result of occult involvement Martial arts comes from yoga, and is part of the occult, therefore a person practicing martial arts has exposed themselves to the kundalini awakening…………..the serpent power. In a few years, whether sickness, physical, or mental, or fracturing of your family relationships or even death comes knocking, then cry out to the Lord Jesus and repent of your sins and unbelief, for you are now on Satan’s territory and he will squeeze you just like a lemon and toss you away. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory in Christ Jesus OUR LORD. THANK YOU FOR THE BLOOD OF JESUS. HE PAID A DEBT HE DID NOT OWE, I OWED A DEBT I COULD NOT PAY! I PRAY FOR YOU SISTER.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    pagan equality in the home is up to the couple in that the woman will be a woman and the man a man I am so happy that my wife is different and not equal. It was never God’s plan that the woman would be equal to the man or the man equal to the woman, just one reason why homosexuality is not normal. Why do you think men do not have babies, or even why though your daughter may have a black belt will not be a match for a man in good shape, (fyi she’s not suppose to be). Not being equal is romantic and wholesome and has nothing to do with ruling over another. You can’t tell me you don’t want your husband to be the leader or stand up for you at least a little better than you having to do it. lol

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    Deal, you certainly have a warped outlook on TKD, Yoga etc. They are wonderful disiplines—and I’m very proud of my daughter. She has worked hard to get where she is in TKD, with a great teacher and mentor to guide her. As to this SATAN dude? It’s hard to worry about something that doesn’t exist. Obviously in your narrow world, there is no room for anyone else’s beliefs as being even close to “RIGHT”. Fine for you, doesn’t work for me. Your narrowness is the kind that turns off many who might consider following your world what you consider to be Christianity. My 2 very devout sisters are my example of Christianity—not the narrow minded Bible quoting that you do. My first 17 years were in a loving Christian home—I just decided it wasn’t for me and haven’t gone back since to what I was taught. So all your ideas about Ms. Lincoln (who, yes, was mentally ill before and after her son’s death) and the fact that President Lincoln was killed, have nothing to do with her trying to talk to her dead son. Ms. Lincoln had an illness, President Lincoln was killed by a human being. Easy. As to Mr. SATAN? What about it?

    You claim that Jesus was always doing what his Dad said. Great. Does that mean I’m supposed to do that too? Not if my Father wanted to have me killed. (he didn’t). Jesus, IMO was an example of a man not thinking for himself. If the book you follow, written many, many years after JC died, copied and recopied (not accurately I’m sure—as it has once again been put out in yet another translation–up to date etc.) then go for it. Lots of incest, war, death, etc. to make for good reading—but not for a guide. Some nice poetry.

    All the above to say: If you love living in your little world, being told what to do by someting/one you can’t see (but maybe hear) with a submissive women in your life—happy for you dude. I choose to live my remaining years just like I have in the past. Happily married with great kids—who know who they are and neither they or their spouses choose to be told what to do by an invisible being—so they aren’t worried about the invisible bad dude either. My grandson is also going to be his own person—he already is at a year old. ALL is GOOD. BTW—Happy Easter.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    cknuck, whether my daughter could stand up to a man in TKD has yet to be tested—however, I’d pity the man who tried to honestly hurt her. She is not a tiny built woman and is 6 ft. tall. She is very good at what she does.

    Why don’t men have the babies? You couldn’t handle it!! :o)

    Happy Easter, if I don’t remember to say so later. I know it means a lot to you.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    The one item I agree with you on is that we (men) could not handle having babies. The rest I am certain you feel better getting out. =:-D

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