1860: Sheridan S. Sabine to Charles A. Choate

This brief letter was written on extremely rare stationery incorporating an engraving of Abraham Lincoln by the well-known Chicago engraver, Edward Mendel. 1 I have seen this engraving on a campaign ribbon, poster, and an envelope but not on stationery previously. For most voters, this was the image of Lincoln that served to introduce him to the American public.

Unfortunately I cannot confirm the identity of the correspondents but believe them to be Sheridan S. Sabine and Charles Augustus Choate—both patriotic youths of Illinois who would have been the kind to have campaigned for Lincoln and participated in Wide Awake torchlight parades. Twenty-one year-old Sheridan (1839-1876) was a joiner in Chatham whose father was postmaster, allowing himself and family to send mail without paying postage (a perk of the postal employees). When the new President called for soldiers, Sheridan took the oath as a volunteer on 27 July 1861, as a corporal in Co. A, 3rd Illinois Cavalry. He served out his full three years with the company, mustering out on 5 September 1864.

Eighteen year-old Charles A. Choate (1842-1915) was a young college-bound student whose father, Charles Choate, was an 1823 graduate of Bowdoin College and physician who settled down as a farmer in Montebello township, Hancock county, Illinois, when his heath failed—his home on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi river.

An 1860 Lincoln Campaign Ribbon with Mendel’s engraving of Lincoln and an unidentified Wide Awake torch bearer from the personal collection of Adam O. Fleischer


Chatham [Sangamon county, Illinois]
June 8, 1860

C. A. Choate
Dear Sir,

I have received two communications from you since you left here & have sent in return your letters as requested. Received also a letter from Wilson. Things are going on as usual here. All wide awake for Lincoln. I write this in haste. Please excuse me for not writing more at present. Attended a Ratification Rally yesterday at Springfield. A grand turn out. 2

Yours truly, — S. S. Sabine

1 “Edward Mendel, for many years a lithographer in this city, and known as a man who has been closely identified with Chicago’s business  interests for over a quarter of a century, died at his residence, No. 2321 Wabash avenue, yesterday evening at 7:30 o’clock. For many  months the insidious but deadly Bright’s disease had been assailing his system, and at last the foe became the victor. Mr. Mendel was  born in Berlin, Germany, in 1828, receiving his education in that country and learning the trade of a mapcarver. When 22 years of  agehe came to America. Engaged for a short time at his trade in Cincinnati, he soon came further West and ere long was at work in  Chicago, and was also employed for a while on a surveying corps.

About the year 1853 be began the work of lithographing. He started in this business on Lake street; near La Salle, occupying the old  John Link Building. His business began to enlarge, and about three years before the great fire he moved into the First National Bank  Building, located at the southwest corner of State and Washington streets. There the fire found him and there the fire left him, well nigh penniless at best, so far as his business interest was concerned. Not daunted by adversity, he again began business at the corner  of State and Twenty-second streets, afterward moving down to the Hoffman Building on Fifth avenue, between Madison and Monroe  street. He rapidly regained his former position and again moved, this tie to the fourth floor of the Times Building on Fifth avenue, which  latter place he occupied up to the time of his death.

As a man of close attention to business, of industry, of loyal devotion to the work which claimed much of his time and talent, Mr.  Mendel was known by a large circle of business friends. A man of native reticence and averse to courting society he yet left a strong  impression of his own individuality upon those who knew him. Mr. Mendel had become the possessor of a good deal of valuable city  property, owning the Mendel Block, on the northeast corner of Pacific avenue and Van Buren street, a number of houses on Wabash  avenue aside from his residence, and other property which would perhaps bring wealth close up to a half a million dollars. In 1863  Mr. Mendel was married in this city to Miss Sarah Joy, by whom he has had three children, Edward and Albert, two of them now living,  the eldest on now nearing manhood. Thirty years of active business life in Chicago, conducted upon the careful and conservative  principles which governed his life, could not but have won Mr. Mendel many friends, who will join their sympathy to the sorrow of the  bereaved family.” [Obituary posted in Inter Ocean, April 5, 1884]

2 A “Ratification Rally” was merely a campaign rally to endorse the Republican nominee for President of the United States.

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