Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 65,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Lincoln, Abraham (1809-1865) to John P. Usher

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC05620 Author/Creator: Lincoln, Abraham (1809-1865) Place Written: Washington, D.C. Type: Letter signed Date: 3 May 1864 Pagination: 1

Summary of Content: Discussing the Battle of Fort Pillow, Tennessee, President Lincoln informs Usher, Secretary of the Interior, "it is now quite certain that a large number of our colored soldiers, with their white officers, were, by the rebel force, massacred after they had surrendered ... " Requests Usher's counsel regarding the government's course of action following the Fort Pillow events. The letter was also sent to the rest of the cabinet, including Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles (see GLC07698). Signed by Lincoln. Written on Executive Mansion stationery.

People: Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

Historical Era: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877

Keywords/Subjects: Fort Pillow Massacre, Fortification, President, Civil War, Military History, Union Forces, Lincoln's Cabinet, Battle, Battle of Fort Pillow (Fort Pillow Massacre), African American Troops, African American History, Confederate States of America, Death, Atrocity, Massacre, Prisoner of War, Surrender, Government and Civics

Sub Era: The American Civil War African Americans and Emancipation