Lincoln, Abraham,

Lincoln, Abraham, accepted the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from Princeton in 1864 shortly after his reelection to a second term. The degree was conferred at a meeting of the trustees on December 20th of that year, and President Maclean wrote to Lincoln the same day to inform him of their action. The reply, in Lincoln's own handwriting, is one of the University's treasured possessions -- ``among the title deeds to our Americanism,'' as Dean Gauss once put it. The letter is as follows:

``Executive Mansion
Washington, December 27, 1864

My Dear Sir:
I have the honour to acknowledge the reception of your note of the 20th of December, conveying the announcement that the Trustees of the College of New Jersey have conferred upon me the Degree of Doctor of Laws.

The assurance conveyed by this high compliment, that the course of the government which I represent has received the approval of a body of gentlemen of such character and intelligence in this time of public trial, is most grateful to me.

Thoughtful men must feel that the fate of civilization upon this continent is involved in the issue of our contest. Among the most gratifying proofs of this conviction is the hearty devotion everywhere exhibited by our schools and colleges to the national cause.

I am most thankful if my labors have seemed to conduce to the preservation of those institutions under which alone we can expect good government and in its train sound learning and the progress of the liberal arts.

I am, sir, very truly
Your obedient servant
A. LINCOLN

Dr. John Maclean


From Alexander Leitch, A Princeton Companion, copyright Princeton University Press (1978).

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