SIMEON DRAPER (January 19, 1806 – November 6, 1866) was a prominent merchant and politician in New York City. During the Civil War, he was the federal government’s agent for receiving, storing and selling captured cotton from the Confederate States of America. The money was used for the Union war effort.
A post-war investigation indicated that Draper used his post to recover from financial setbacks during the Panic of 1857 by diverting some of the proceeds to his personal use.
WILLIAM PITT FESSENDEN of Maine was the architect of many of the nation’s wartime revenue policies as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee during the Civil War. Fessenden was skilled at generating funds to support the war. His intimate knowledge of the nation’s war time needs led President Abraham Lincoln to appoint Fessenden as Secretary of the Treasury, a position he held from July 1864 until March 1865. The Maine legislature returned Fessenden to the Senate in 1865. He served until his death in Portland, Maine, on September 8, 1869.
Offering a 2 pp, 7 ½ x 9, ALS from Draper to Fessenden, dated April 22, 1865, one week after Lincoln died after suffering a gunshot wound at the hands of John Wilkes Booth. The letter is written on appropriately black bordered mourning paper in honor of the President’s death.
From New York, Draper writes, “…The dreadful event which bond my paper in black has upset all one’s thoughts and left us in contemplation of the great and uncertain…which mortals are called to explore. I have more moments than I can tell you, thought of you, with grateful feelings and jealous duration. I have often wished I could see you that I might talk over matters and learn from you whether I have the power to serve you or yours. I will…take a train to Portland and see you…Perhaps you will take a [trip by] sea…in July or August on one of the cutters.
“I am going to Charleston [SC] tomorrow to dispose of the cotton there under the donations of the Secretary of the Treasury. I hope, pray and intend to vindicate your kindness and confidence and pray you to command me freely.
“Friend and Servant
“Hon. W.P. Fessenden
A wonderful Lincoln mourning letter coupled with the sale of Confederate cotton. Toning, folds. Overall in excellent condition. The images of Draper and Fessenden are from the internet.
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