Read Abraham Lincoln's emotional letter consoling the family of a fallen soldier -- sent days after his son died
A head-on photograph of Abraham Lincoln taken on November 8, 1863 (Wikimedia Commons)

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow recalled a letter by President Abraham Lincoln that was sent to a grieving family of a soldier in the Civil War. Maddow was comparing it to the way President Donald Trump has behaved in the days following the deaths of the four soldiers in Niger.


While the letter itself is profound, Maddow noted that the timing was of particular importance. The letter came in December of 1862, just two days before Christmas and after the death of the Lincolns' son. William Wallace "Willie" Lincoln was the third son of the Lincolns and they were wrecked with their own family grief. All the while the Civil War raged on.

Maddow cited historian Michael Beschloss, who said that this isn't merely an example of the perfect presidential letter but also likely helpful to anyone suffering from a great loss.

The letter was to Fanny McCullough, the daughter of a long-time friend William McCullough. Lincoln seems to reference the death of his son as well as the death of his mother, who died when Lincoln was just nine-years-old.

You can read the full letter from President Lincoln below:

Dear Fanny,

It is with deep grief that I learn of the death of your kind and brave Father; and, especially, that it is affecting your young heart beyond what is common in such cases. In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares. The older have learned to ever expect it. I am anxious to afford some alleviation of your present distress. Perfect relief is not possible, except with time. You can not now realize that you will ever feel better. Is not this so? And yet it is a mistake. You are sure to be happy again. To know this, which is certainly true, will make you some less miserable now. I have had experience enough to know what I say; and you need only to believe it, to feel better at once. The memory of your dear Father, instead of an agony, will yet be a sad sweet feeling in your heart, of a purer and holier sort than you have known before.

Please present my kind regards to your afflicted mother.

Your sincere friend

A. Lincoln