Christie's is auctioning a handwritten copy of the 1864 speech Abraham Lincoln delivered at the White House after being re-elected in the midst of an unpopular Civil War that both he and his opponents believed might cost him his job.
The four-page manuscript, which remained in the family's hands until 1916, will be sold on the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth on Feb. 12, 2009, the auction house announced Thursday. It is expected to fetch more than $3 million.
Lincoln's son, Robert Todd Lincoln, presented the manuscript to New York Congressman John A. Dwight as a thank-you for his efforts in securing funding for the construction of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
In 1926, Dwight's widow gave the document to the Southworth Library Association in Dryden, N.Y. Proceeds from the sale will go toward a new wing for the library, located in New York's Finger Lakes region. According to the library's Web site, it was displayed only once, during the 1976 bicentennial celebration.
Lincoln delivered the speech to a large crowd on Nov. 10, 1864, after winning a second term with 55 percent of the popular vote. He said the results "demonstrated that a people's government can sustain a national election in the midst of a great civil war."
Lincoln also expressed gratitude to "almighty God for having directed my countrymen to a right conclusion" and called on them to "reunite in a common effort to save our common country."
Lincoln's war policies were unpopular, and his prospects for a second term had looked bleak. He himself believed that Democrat George B. McClellan, a popular former Union general, would win.