Lot 8028: LS signed "Mrs. Lincoln," one page, 5 x 8, Executive Mansion letterhead, April 3, 1865. In full: "This is to certify that John F. Parker, a member of the Metropolitan Police, has been detailed for duty at the Executive Mansion by order of [Mrs. Lincoln]." In fine condition. Accompanied by a hardcover presentation folder. Eleven days later, Parker was assigned to guard President Lincoln's box at Ford's Theatre during the Good Friday performance of Our American Cousin. A rather inept policeman, Parker had been disciplined several times in the past for misconduct, with official infractions such as tardiness and—while on duty—being drunk, sleeping, and frequenting prostitutes, as well as civil complaints including swearing at a grocer and firing his pistol through a brothel window. Nevertheless, Parker was assigned to the White House detail in 1865 and became one of the eleven men who served as bodyguards during Lincoln's term in office. Early in March 1865, some members of the presidential guard, including Parker, became subject to the Union draft. Exemptions had to be arranged to ensure their continued service to the president, and with this letter Mary Todd secured Parker's assignment to the White House. Accompanied by a copy of page 179 from Killing Lincoln, in which Bill O'Reilly wrote in regard to the first lady's interference on behalf of Parker as early as the latter half of 1864: "Mary Lincoln herself wrote the letter excepting him from service."On the night of the assassination, Parker's duty was simply to sit outside the president's box. Frustrated that he could only hear the play and not see it, Parker abandoned his post for a seat at the front of the first gallery. He then left Ford's Theatre at intermission to get a drink next door. Given Parker's absence from his post, John Wilkes Booth easily entered the box without resistance and shot Lincoln at point-blank range, fatally wounding him. Although he was initially charged with dereliction of duty, charges against Parker were dropped and he retained a job as a White House security guard and was—at times—assigned to Mary Todd Lincoln herself. With enormous historical implications, this is a quintessential letter from the first lady.
RR Auction's Remarkable Rarities Auction 461
Monday, 28th September 2015
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