President Abraham Lincoln's manuscript proclamation in Bonhams June Books & Manuscripts auction

Fine Books and Manuscripts including Russian Literature
19 Jun 2012
New York

Bonhams will be offering a rare autograph manuscript proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln as part of the June 19 Fine Books and Manuscripts auction. The manuscript is a draught version of the March 26, 1864 proclamation giving the President the right to grant amnesty to Confederate Prisoners (pre-sale est. $200,000-300,000). The existence of this important draught was unknown for well over a century, but as we approach the 150th anniversary of the Amnesty Proclamation its significance is ever more apparent.

This highlighted piece of American history underscores a crucial aspect of Lincoln's attitude to Reconstruction. On December 8, 1863, although the final Confederate surrender was more than eighteen months away, Abraham Lincoln issued his historic Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, extending an olive branch to any rebels who would accept it. Lincoln would grant a full pardon and restoration of all rights of property to anyone who pledged to "faithfully support, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the union of all the States there under." The Government was so overwhelmed by requests for amnesty that in March of the following year the President had to issue a second Proclamation, clarifying exactly which "insurgent enemies" were entitled to the pardon.

In June, Bonhams will be offering an important draught of that statement, in which Lincoln explains that Confederate prisoners already in the custody of the United States are not automatically entitled to a pardon under the terms of the December Amnesty, but that instead he personally will review each plea on a case by case basis. History lovers and serious collectors of fine and rare manuscripts will be fascinated by this lot, which comes as one and a half pages on blue-lined legal folio paper, the same paper that he used for the first draught of the Gettysburg Address and his final speech.

Bonhams is also offering several highlights of Americana, such as a Revolutionary War journal written by Timothy Newell, a Boston Selectman, which covers the Siege of Boston and describes the Battle of Bunker Hill (pre-sale est. $50,000-80,000), and a collection of 33 original architectural drawings of the Union Pacific Railroad (pre-sale est. $10,000-15,000). Other important lots include an extremely rare folio containing the first edition of the 2nd United States Census (pre-sale est. $10,000-20,000), along with the first known plans drawn for the Mulberry Harbours, the mobile ports used during allied D-Day operations in World War II (pre-sale est. $40,000-80,000).

The work will be available to preview at the Bonhams New York headquarters at 580 Madison Avenue from June 15 - 19.

Press Contacts:

Julie Saunders Guinta (917) 206-1681


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

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