The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln…Expressions of Condolence and Sympathy

In response to Abraham Lincoln’s death on April 15, 1865, the Government Printing Office compiled over 900 pages of condolence letters sent from around the world.  The letters, written by citizen groups, dignitaries, and government officials, express the shock of Lincoln’s death and reflect on the impact of his life and death on the United States and the world. 

The 1867 volume of The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln…and the Attempted Assassination of William H. Seward…on the Evening of the 14th of April, 1864: Expressions of Condolence and Sympathy Inspired by These Events in Special Collections at Southern Miss was the personal copy of Cassius M. Clay, former minister to Russia and Kentucky statesman.  Included in the hundreds of letters found in the volume is correspondence from Clay to William H. Seward, who was seriously injured by Lewis Powell, an associate of John Wilkes Booth, on the same evening that Lincoln was assassinated.  In the letter, Clay writes:

“I know not how to express my grief for the loss of our great and
good President Lincoln, and my indignation at the crime of which
he is a victim.  I thank God that you are spared to us, and I trust
that our country and the nations will still continue to reap the
fruit of your patriotic labors and pacific sentiments.”

Two documents are adhered in the front of the book including the resolution to create the resource and the letter of gift to Clay.  These additional documents provide a unique context into the book that may not be found in other copies of this resource. Clay’s signature and a note about the receipt of the item are also included in the book, which was recently donated by a Southern Miss alumna. 

To view this item, visit Special Collections in McCain Library & Archives Room 305. For more information about the book, contact Jennifer Brannock at or 601.266.4347. To see more Items of the Month, click here.

Text by Jennifer Brannock, Curator of Rare Books & Mississippiana.