To celebrate Lincoln’s Birthday and Valentine’s Day: a look back at the touching, moving, fake love letters of Abraham Lincoln and Ann Rutledge. In 1929, the Atlantic got taken in by one of the great historical hoaxes, inspiring its editors to publish the tastefully named three-part story “Lincoln the Lover.” It was quickly debunked by young scholar Paul M. Angle, later the director of the Chicago Historical Society. If you like fake histories, it’s great reading. Unfortunately, the stories are behind a paywall, but here are some excerpts:
My Beloved Abe
I am glad you sed that girls aint suposed to no like boys. but I will . . . sum-time I no. cos you need a wife who will be a help to you, not a drag-bak like sum ar. my hart runs over with hapynes when I think youre name . . . . I dreem of yore . . . words every nite and long for you by day. I mus git super now. all my hart is ever thine.
My Beloved Ann:
. . . my treasured one I should now be standing between you and such trials. O! when will success crown my untiring efforts I sicken at many failures especially as no more am I lazy in the discharge of my duties. forgive this long-faced letter, as I should now be upholding you in hope for the future, for I but to-day have been greatly assured of my election as member to the Legislature. So perhaps our dreams will come true. . . . I feel unusually lifted with hope of relieving your present worry at an early date and likewise doing myself the best turn of my life. with you my beloved all things are possible. . . .
With great affection Abe
Oh Maid! thou art so beauteous
That you bright moon is rising, in all haste
To gaze on thee,
[Next, she sent him a Bible]
It was my mothers she giv it to me. I love it so much that I want you to hav it. pleas read it all. it will make you feel different.
[Then, she took sick]
My Beloved Abe
Pleas do not cum to-nite I am ailing with a cole. Ma sez I must take a swet rite after super. . . . you ar all in all to me. he never persued his love for me like you do. so tender and kare-taking. . . . I study hard with overflowing hart to make you hapy and I long to proclaim worthynes in your site. I kin rite to you like you to me betern trying to talk with everbody around like is most allways the case. . . . think of me as I think of you for I am thine forever and ever
P.S. Cum tomoro nite eny-way
My Dearly Valued Ann
. . . I have been saying over and over to myself surely my traditional bad luck cannot reach me again through my beloved. I do long to confirm the confidence you have in heaven — but should anything serious occur to you I fear my faith would be eternally broken. . . . My fervent love is with you
[Then, she died]