Mar 10, 2020 - Sale 2533

Sale 2533 - Lot 146

Price Realized: $ 1,820
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 1,000 - $ 1,500
(LINCOLN, ABRAHAM.) Story of Caroline Johnson, a freed slave who gained an audience with President Lincoln. Manuscript document, 4 pages (8 1/4 x 5 inches) on one folding sheet; light wear at folds, moderate foxing. Np, circa 1865

Additional Details

Caroline Johnson was a freedwoman who made her living in Philadelphia crafting wax fruit, and served as president of the city's Colored Women's Sanitary Commission. Offered here is a short narrative of her life. After the Emancipation Proclamation, she sought a meeting with President Lincoln to thank him personally, accompanied by a minister: "Upon her return to Philadelphia, she related her interview with the President and his wife. . . . Her minister made a few appropriate remarks which were listed to with great attention. When he was finished he turned to Mrs. Johnson and said perhaps she would make a few remarks also, and I tell you Mrs. said she felt 'as if I had not a word to say, and I cast my eyes upon the floor, when the fire began to burn within me, and I tell you it was the spirit. I looked up and said Mr. President, I believe God has hewn you out of the rock for this great and mighty purpose. So many have been led away by bribes, by silver and gold, but you have stood firm because God was with you, and he will be with you if you are faithful unto the end.' After which she presented Abraham & Mary Lincoln with this magnificent basket of wax fruit upon a table covered with shells and pebbles made by her own hands. The President and his wife having examined them and expressing great admiration, then addressed her in the most beautiful manner, saying 'You must give God the praise and not man.'"
The story of Johnson's visit to Lincoln has been told many times; it was perhaps first reported in the National Anti-Slavery Standard in early March 1865, from there being picked up by several newspapers, and making its way into F.B. Carpenter's 1866 book "Six Months at the White House." The present narrative is similar in broad outlines to the published versions of the story, but is quite distinct in the wording and quotations. It may represent an alternative account of the famous meeting.