“Mr. Lincoln at once wrote to Mr. Kohn thanking him for his gift. His letter was sent through a mutual friend, John Young Scammon, a prominent citizen of Chicago, who delayed its delivery until six months after Lincoln’s departure from Springfield, when he wrote to Mr. Kohn as follows:
CHICAGO, August 28, 1861.
Abraham Kohn, Esq.
My DEAR Sir: The enclosed acknowledgment of the receipt of your beautiful painting of the American flag by the President got among my letters or it would have been sent to you before.
Regretting the delay, I am,
Truly your friend,
J. YOUNG SOAMMON
“Mr. Lincoln’s letter to Kohn being lost cannot be reproduced.
“This flag is referred to by Admiral George H. Preble in his History of the Flag of the United States, published in 1894. The incident being brought to the attention of the late President McKinley, when Governor of Ohio, he thus alluded to it in the course of a speech delivered at Ottawa, Kansas, on June 20, 1895:
What more beautiful conception than that which Abraham Kohn of Chicago in February, 1861, to send to Mr. Lincoln, on the eve of his starting to Washington, to assume the office of President, a flag of our country, bearing upon its silken folds the words from the first chapter of Joshua. Could anything have given Mr. Lincoln more cheer or been better calculated to sustain his courage or to strengthen his faith in the mighty work before him?
“The whereabouts of the flag cannot be traced, although Mrs. Adler states that while in Washington during the administration of President McKinley she made a thorough search for the relic in all the places where it might be preserved but without success. Kohn never met Lincoln after his visit to his store in Chicago. He was one of the citizens appointed by the Mayor to go some distance into Indiana to meet the train bearing Lincoln’s body to that city.”[iv]
Abraham Kohn died in Chicago in 1871.
[iii] “A Jewish Peddler’s Diary, 1842-1843, “ Abram Vossen Goodman, American Jewish Archives, June 1951, pages 81 – 111. Available at http://americanjewisharchives.org/journal/PDF/1951_03_03_00_doc_kohn_goodman.pdf
[iv] “Lincoln and the Jews” by Isaac Markens, Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society (1893-1961); 1909; 17, AJHS Journal, page 109 ff.
About the Author: Dr. Yitzchok Levine served as a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey before retiring in 2008. He now teaches as an adjunct at Stevens. Glimpses Into American Jewish History appears the first week of each month. Dr. Levine can be contacted at email@example.com.
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