Rare Signatures

The following story suggests there may be at least one document with the signatures of both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis signed in their capacities of President for their respective nations. Please let me know if you are aware of the document’s present location.

During the final months of the war, desperate conditions in the South also led humanitarian instincts to authorize contraband trade that might otherwise have been denied. In one instance, Lincoln was approached directly by a Baptist minister, Rev. Thomas Teasdale, who was a representative of the Mississippi State Orphans Home. Before the war, Teasdale had served temporarily at a church in Lincoln’s hometown and was warmly recognized by the president.


Teasdale asked permission to ship cotton purchased with Confederate money through the lines to New York, where it could be sold to purchase supplies for the orphanage. The pastor formalized his request by presenting a petition by the orphanage board describing the impoverished conditions and endorsed on the back by President Jefferson Davis. Evidently offended by the Davis endorsement, Lincoln responded by explaining that economic shortages were intentionally employed to motivate Southerners “to give up this wicked rebellion.” Teasdale replied that “the hapless little ones” were not perpetrators of the war but merely victims of it. Lincoln softened, replying, “That is true and I must do something for you.”

Lincoln wrote a note to Union General Canby in New Orleans, authorizing—but not ordering—the general to accommodate Teasdale. The president then endorsed the back of the orphanage petition, encouraging the secretaries of War and the Treasury to meet with Teasdale regarding his “praiseworthy effort.” Lincoln wrote his endorsement below that of Davis, thereby transforming the document into perhaps the only one to have the signatures of both Davis and Lincoln in their capacities as presidents.*
*Philip Leigh Trading With the Enemy (Yardley, Penna.: Westholme Publishing, 2014), 136-7

My Civil War Books

Lee’s Lost Dispatch and Other Civil War Controversies
Trading With the Enemy
Co. Aytch: Illustrated and Annotated


One thought on “Rare Signatures

  1. Pingback: Signatures Sold $122,500 | Civil War Chat

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