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With Malice Toward None

Curious about what was in Abraham Lincoln’s pockets on the night of his assassination? How about his English grammar skills when he was a young student? Ever wonder about what kind of fashion sense his wife had?

Abraham Lincoln. Ambrotype by T. Painter Pearson, 1858 Contents of Abraham Lincoln's pockets on the night of his assassination, April 14, 1865

“With Malice Toward None: The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Exhibition” opened at the Library of Congress on Feb. 12, 2009, in celebration of the 200th birthday of America’s 16th president, offering the public the opportunity to view rarely seen treasures from the Library’s collections. This major exhibition, made possible through the generous support of the Union Pacific Corp., runs through May 9, 2009, after which it will travel to Sacramento, Chicago, Indianapolis, Atlanta and Omaha.

For those unable to visit in person, or for those wanting a preview, the exhibition is also available online.

"With Malice Toward None: The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Exhibition" charts Lincoln’s growth from prairie lawyer to preeminent statesman and addresses the monumental issues he faced, including slavery and race, the dissolution of the Union, and the Civil War.

The exhibit reveals Lincoln the man, whose thoughts, words, and actions were deeply affected by personal experiences and pivotal historic events. By placing Lincoln’s words in a historical context, the exhibition gives visitors a deeper understanding of how remarkable Lincoln’s decisions were for their time and why his words continue to resonate today.

The exhibition draws on the vast and varied collections of Lincoln material in the Library and includes letters, photographs, political cartoons, period engravings, speeches and artifacts. The actual grammar book studied by Lincoln in his effort to master English, the notes he prepared in advance of his debates with Sen. Stephen Douglas, and the personal scrapbook he assembled of newspaper clippings of the debates bring this iconic figure to life.

Other items include campaign and election ephemera and such treasures as an autobiography Lincoln supplied to admiring biographers, his penciled "Farewell Address" as he boarded the train from Springfield, Ill., his first and second Inaugural Addresses, the Bible upon which he took the oath of office on March 4, 1861 (recently used by President Barack Obama for his oath-taking), his unforgettable Gettysburg Address, and the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Military enthusiasts will have the opportunity to see the highly critical letter Lincoln wrote but never sent to Gen. George Meade following the Battle of Gettysburg, the signed commission of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant as Lieutenant General, several inquiring and sometimes reprimanding letters to Gen. George McClellan, and the letter of thanks to Gen. William T. Sherman for the capture of Savannah, Ga.

The exhibition will include the Lincoln family Bible, a seed-pearl jewelry set belonging to Mary Todd Lincoln, a caned chair from the Lincoln and Herndon Law Office on loan from the Union Pacific Railroad Museum, and daguerreotype photographs of the Lincoln family. A seldom-seen exchange of letters during the 1860 presidential campaign between the Republican candidate and Miss Grace Bedell concerning the possible benefits of his growing a beard will be loaned to the exhibition from the Benjamin Shapell Family Manuscript Foundation and the Detroit Public Library. Aspiring poets will enjoy Lincoln’s early attempts at this difficult art form, as well as Walt Whitman’s Civil War diary and verse.

In the Library’s American Memory collections, Mr. Lincoln’s Library pulls together not only his papers but also more than 200 musical compositions that reflect upon the 16th president.

Further exploring the Library’s online resources, Abraham Lincoln: A Resource Guide offers additional materials relating to the president, including references in online exhibitions, digital assets in several Library divisions, webcasts and other American Memory collections.

A. Abraham Lincoln. Ambrotype by T. Painter Pearson, 1858. Prints and Division. Reproduction Information: Reproduction Nos.: LC-USZ62-132820 (b&w film copy neg., from print that is reverse of original ambrotype), LC-USZ62-17403 (b&w film copy neg., from print that shows Lincoln facing in same direction as the ambrotype); Call No.: PRES FILE - Lincoln, Abraham--Portraits--Meserve no. 10 [item] [P&P]

B. Contents of Abraham Lincoln's pockets on the night of his assassination, April 14, 1865. Rare Book and Special Collections Division. Reproduction Information: Reproduction information not available.