Great News from the National Constitution Center

1954.1563. The Rosenbach Museum & Library. May not be reproduced without permission.
Abraham Lincoln [detail]John C. Yorston and Co., 1896. 1954.1563.

Congratulations to our friends across town at the National Constitution Center! Last Friday they announced the good news that they’ve acquired acquired a printed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln and William Seward.

The Rosenbach isn’t fortunate enough to have a copy of the Leland-Boker printing of the Proclamation, but we do have an interesting document related to other reproductions of the document. It seems President Lincoln donated his original manuscript copy of the Proclamation to the Chicago Northwestern Sanitary Fair in 1863. It was purchased there by Thomas B. Bryan for $3000. Bryan then presented the mauscript to the Soldiers Home in Chicago. Seeing an opportunity to raise additional funds for the Home, the United States Sanitary Commission produced lithograph facsimiles of the manuscript. Framed copies sold for $5.00. To kick off the enterprise, the Bryan circulated a subscription book which was signed by President Lincoln, Vice President Hannibal Hamlin, Secretary of State Seward, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, the other members of Lincoln’s cabinet, and members of Congress from every state. It’s a great, historic autograph collection — and all for a good cause, to boot. The book is now part of the Rosenbach’s Americana collection.

When I first heard the Constitution Center’s news, I thought this subscription book related to the Leland-Boker printing. That would have been a great connection. Either way, we’re thrilled to see a copy of this printing come back to Philadelphia where it originated.

The NCC’s site has a link to Seth Kaller, Inc., the dealer who helped them secure this copy. Check out their site for a great overview of the Emancipation Proclamation and the history of the Leland-Boker printing.

AMs 432/28.  The Rosenbach Museum & Library.  May not be reproduced without permission.United States Sanitary Commission. Subscription book for facsimiles of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Washington, D.C., October 1863. AMs 432/28.