1. On this day in 1865, in one of the greatest inaugural addresses in American history, Abraham Lincoln, beginning his second term as president, spoke at a time of triumph: The Civil War was winding down and slavery receding into the history books. Yet Lincoln, filled with sadness and reflection, spoke not of victory, but of the damage that had been done to the country. He reminded both victor and vanquished that both sides had erred in going to war, despite their bitter disagreement over the war’s central issue, slavery.

    "With malice toward none; with charity for all," Lincoln said, "let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds."

    The address is inscribed, along with his Gettysburg Address, in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. In 2012 Peter Hitchens described the address as “one of the most overwhelming pieces of political prose ever crafted in any language.”

    Lincoln had no way of knowing, of course, that in the crowd that day was the actor John Wilkes Booth — who would assassinate the president just six weeks later.

    Here’s what else happened on this day in history

     

  2. In 1860, an 11-year-old girl wrote to Abe Lincoln, suggesting he grow a beard. He not only responded, he obliged.

    "Hon A B Lincoln…

    Dear Sir

    My father has just home from the fair and brought home your picture and Mr. Hamlin’s. I am a little girl only 11 years old, but want you should be President of the United States very much so I hope you wont think me very bold to write to such a great man as you are. Have you any little girls about as large as I am if so give them my love and tell her to write to me if you cannot answer this letter. I have got 4 brothers and part of them will vote for you any way and if you let your whiskers grow I will try and get the rest of them to vote for you you would look a great deal better for your face is so thin. All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husbands to vote for you and then you would be President. My father is going to vote for you and if I was a man I would vote for you to but I will try to get every one to vote for you that I can I think that rail fence around your picture makes it look very pretty I have got a little baby sister she is nine weeks old and is just as cunning as can be. When you direct your letter direct to Grace Bedell Westfield Chautauqua County New York. 

    I must not write any more answer this letter right off Good bye

    Grace Bedell”

    Lincoln responded a few days later: 

    "Miss Grace Bedell

    My dear little Miss 

    Your very agreeable letter of the 15th is received — I regret the necessity of saying I have no daughters — I have three sons — one seventeen, one nine, and one seven years of age — They, with their mother, constitute my whole family — As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think people would call it a piece of silly affectation if I were to begin it now? 

    Your very sincere well wisher,

    A. Lincoln”

    While he made no promises about the beard to Bedell, he stopped shaving and allowed the beard to grow not long after their exchange and was elected as the 16th president of the United States a few weeks later. On his inaugural train ride from Illinois to Washington, D.C., the president-elect stopped in Bedell’s hometown of Westfield, N.Y., and asked to meet her.

    (Source: theweek.com)