Abraham Lincoln, Autograph Note, Signed, Monitor Visit


A Rare Mention By Lincoln of the Ironclad Monitor...

This product requires special shipping considerations. Shipping and insurance charges are additional.


Call (312) 944-3085 or email us here.

Reserve Item



In full:  “I think the Sec. of Navy might allow Hon. Mr. Kilgore & his friend to visit the Monitor….” 

The Union iron-clad Monitor, captained by John L. Worden (1818-1897), fought the Confederate iron-clad Merrimac at Hampton Roads on 9 March 1862.  It was the first battle fought between such vessels and immediately changed the face of naval battle. 

The day after that first iron-clad encounter, on March 10th, Capt. Worden visited with Lincoln.  The latter immediately wrote to Sec. of Navy Gideon Welles that Worden felt the ship could be “boarded and captured very easily” and that the captain was “decidedly of the opinion she should not go sky-larking up to Norfolk.”  Captain Gustavus Fox wrote back that “the Monitor shall take no risk excepting with the Merrimac.”

On May 7th 1862, Lincoln ordered the Monitor, Galena, and other gunboats up the James River.  Soon after, The Monitor participated in the Battle of Drewry’s Bluff, where it was damaged.  It spent most of the next 6 months in the Washington Naval Yards being “refitted” and protected. The Monitor became quite a tourist destination for the favored few – including Kilgore in this note.

Lincoln, Abraham. Autograph Note, signed “A. Lincoln” as President. (Washington, DC):  4 November 1862.  On a note card of 3-2/8” x 1-7/8”.  To:  Gideon Welles. Framed with a Meserve carte-de-visite image of Lincoln, the penny pose, and an 1862 song sheet cover about the Monitor/Merrimac battle.  

This is Unique to the Marketplace.
There are Only Four Known Mentions of the Monitor by Lincoln; Three are in Institutions!


More on the Monitor…

The USS Monitor was built at the behest of Abraham Lincoln for the US Navy during the American Civil War in response to the Confederates’ own ironclad Virginia. The Union had blockaded the port of Hampton Roads and it was feared the Virginia would be able to break through. Under commanding officer Lieutenant John Lorimer Worden, the Monitor famously encountered the Virginia at the Battle of Hampton Roads in March 1862, the first battle fought between armored warships. It was deemed to be a draw, but the encounter ensured that ‘…the worldwide strategies of naval warfare and shipbuilding were changed forever…’ (Monitor National Marine Sanctuary website). The Virginia was to be destroyed by its own commander in May that year in order to prevent it falling into Union hands.

Distinguished by its revolving ‘Ericsson’ turret (named after the designer John Ericsson), the Monitor was completed in early 1862 and the design established the blueprint for the Monitor class of warship built for the American Navy for decades to come.

At the time of our note, the Monitor was in dry dock at the Washington Navy Yard for repairs, where it had been greeted by thousands of cheering admirers. A welcome ceremony in October was attended by Lincoln and many distinguished guests and the ship became a tourist attraction, the victim of souvenir hunters who, it is reported, stripped it bare. By November, however, it was fully repaired and ready to return to service. Its triumphant return was to be short lived. On the last day of the year, the Monitor foundered while under tow during a storm off Cape Hatteras, its wreck lying undiscovered until 1973.

More on Kilgore…

David Kilgore (1804-1879) was a U.S. Congressman, Lawyer, Entrepreneur. He was a United States Representative from the State of Indiana. He was born one of eight children to Obadiah Kilgore (1771-1853), and his wife Rebecca Cusick Kilgore (1778-1842), in Harrison County, Kentucky, on April 3, 1804.

He was then admitted to the bar in 1830 and commenced his practice of law in Yorktown, Indiana, shortly thereafter. Kilgore served as a Member of the Indiana State House of Representatives from 1833 to 1836, 1838, 1839, and again in 1855. He also served as Presidential Elector from the State of Indiana in 1848, as Speaker of the Indiana State House of Representatives in 1855, as President Judge of the Yorktown, Indiana, Circuit from 1839 to 1846, and as a Delegate to the Indiana State Constitutional Convention in 1850 and again in 1851. He then ran for the U. S. Congress and was elected and served as a Republican in Indiana’s 5th District from March 4, 1857, to March 3, 1861.

After leaving Congress, he served as a Delegate to the Union National Convention which met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on August 14, 1866.  He served as one of the pallbearers for the funeral procession of Abraham Lincoln in Indianapolis, Indiana on April 20th, 1865. He was also a prominent businessman having been one of the longtime Directors of the Indianapolis and Bellefontaine Railroad Company and Director and large shareholder of the Citizens’ National Bank in Muncie, Indiana. He passed away following a long illness in Yorktown, Indiana, on January 22, 1879, at the age of 74, and he was buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Daleville, Indiana.

You may also like…

  • Textile, Souvenir of the Great White Fleet

  • Franklin Roosevelt, Partly Printed Document, Signed