The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

November 6, 2007

<img src="http://www.joplinglobeonline.com/images/zope/extra.gif" border=0> Writing to President Lincoln <font color="#ff0000">w/ Grace Bedell letters and photos </font>

Joe Hadsall

jhadsall@joplinglobe.com

PITTSBURG, Kan. — With flowing script, 15-year-old Grace Bedell wrote a letter on Jan. 14, 1864, to President Lincoln, asking for a U.S. Treasury job.

“After a great deal of forethought on the subject, I have concluded to address you, asking for your aid in obtaining a situation,” Bedell wrote.

Karen Needles, a Pittsburg State University graduate who is a documents researcher based in Washington, D.C., revealed the letter during a presentation Monday at PSU.

The letter provides insight into the later life of Bedell, who has been called “Lincoln’s Little Correspondent.”

Bedell never got that job, Needles said. She speculated that Lincoln never saw the letter from the girl who was famous for her suggestion in a letter written during Lincoln’s campaign for president in 1860 that he grow a beard.

“I am that little girl grown to the size of a woman,” Bedell wrote. “I believe in your answer to that letter you signed yourself, ‘Your true friend and well-wisher.’ Will you not show yourself my friend now?”

“I think it’s tragic for both of them,” Needles said. “If she had gone to work there, who knows what would have happened in her life?”

The letter shows that Bedell wanted to support herself by working at the U.S. Treasury. Though she had “never known want,” she was eager to help ease a financial burden caused by her father’s loss of land.

“A word from you would secure me a good paying situation, which would at least enable me to support myself if not to help my parents,” she wrote. “This, at present — is my greatest ambition.”

Needles said Bedell’s family situation wasn’t dire.

“According to an 1860 census, her father made about $2,000 a year,” Needles said. “That put them in the middle class. Though she said her father lost land, I don’t think she was destitute.”

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