Lincoln’s famous letter from his secretary

Lincoln’s famous letter from his secretary

Lincoln writes

NOS newsIt has been fixed

It is the pinnacle of American bell letters, the Bixby letter of Abraham Lincoln. With that short letter, the president of the United States tries to comfort a mother who lost five sons during the Civil War. But British scientists now prove that Lincoln did not write the letter at all.

Lincoln sent the letter in November 1864, six months before the end of the conflict that killed 600,000 Americans. He writes that he has learned that five of Lydia Bixby’s sons are dead.

“I realize how weak and inappropriate my words will be to remove your great mourning for the tragedy. However, I cannot fail to remind you of the comfort you can find in the gratitude of the Republic to which they fell.” in a letter. “What a precious sacrifice on the altar of Freedom.”

Mail fax

Bixby’s letter is frequently cited as one of Lincoln’s best pieces, along with the famous Gettysburg Address and the Emancipation Proclamation. Steven Spielberg used the words in his film Saving Private Ryan and George W. Bush read the letter on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Because the original is lost, however, it has been doubted for years whether Lincoln actually wrote the letter himself. Researchers of the last century suggested that Lincoln’s secretary John Hay could be the real author.

Because the letter contains only 139 words, linguistic research has not been possible until now. There was very little material to compare it to. Linguists of University of Manchester changed that.

John Hay

They used a technique called N-gram tracing, where a computer compares stylistic cues with other text. The research group discovered very early that the book The Cuckoo’s Call in fact and Harry Potter author JK Rowling, under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

The researchers adapted the method to also recognize short text, based on Hay’s 500 pieces and Lincoln’s 500 pieces. In 90 percent of cases, the conclusion was that Hay was the author. In the remaining 10 percent, the computer failed.

For example, senior researcher Andrea Nini mentions the term cheat, which Hay used more often and Lincoln never did. In addition, he found 21 word combinations that match Hay’s word usage and only 9 that match Lincoln’s.

Nini thinks that this new technique can also be used for other issues, such as identifying unknown threat acronyms. He himself now intends to analyze the writings of Jack the Ripper.