A Wish to Remain Anonymous


Lincoln seems to have been under no illusions about the literary merit of his poetry, telling Johnston in this letter, “I am not at all displeased with your proposal to publish the poetry, or doggerel, or whatever else it may be called, which I sent you. I consent that it may be done . . . but let names be suppressed by all means. I have not sufficient hope of the verses attracting any favorable notice to tempt me to risk being ridiculed for having written them.” Johnston duly published anonymously Lincoln’s most serious poetic effort, “My Childhood Home I See Again” (shown alongside) in the Quincy Whig on 5 May 1847.

Springfield , February 25, 1847 Dear Johnston: Yours of the 2d of December was duly delivered to me by Mr. Williams. To say the least, I am not at all displeased with you proposal to publish the poetry, or doggerel, or whatever else it may be called, which I sent you. I consent that it may be done, together with the third canto, which I now send you. Whether the prefatory remarks in my letter shall be published with the verses, I leave entirely to your discretion; but let names be suppressed by all means. I have not sufficient hope of the verses attracting any favorable notice to tempt me to risk being ridiculed for having written them. Why not drop into the paper, at the same time, the “half dozen stanzas of your own”? Or if, for any reason, it suit your feelings better, send them to me, and I will take pleasure in putting them in the paper here. Family well, and nothing new. Yours Sincerely, Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865) Autograph letter, signed, Springfield, to Andrew Johnston, 25 February 1847 Shapell Manuscript Collection; SMF 353