Christmas Present

This entry is part 2 of 23 in the series Christmas Messages

Lincoln & Christmas 1864

Here’s a nice Christmas story to add to the Christmas Spirit.

On Christmas Day 1864, attractively attired Laura Jones made a desperate call on the President of the United States. She absolutely had to get in to see Abraham Lincoln!

A holiday peacefulness had settled over the White House, even though America was still caught in the throes of the Civil War. As dusk settled over the White House, Lincoln finished signing a stack of papers. He laid down his pen and sighed.

“What else is there to sign, Mr. Secretary?” Lincoln asked Gideon Welles. “Are we finally through for the day?”

“Mr. President, there is one special request from a 23-year old girl who has been trapped here in Washington since the war began,” Welles responded. “She desires to have a pass so she might travel safely to Richmond in order to have a Christmas wedding to her sweetheart, Jamie Joe Ballinger — a Confederate soldier.”

There was a long pause. Then Lincoln had his butler, Billy Slade, go tell the girl to come in. Lincoln spoke briefly with the forlorn Laura Jones, and her sincerity seemed to make a deep impression on the President.

After silently listening to Laura’s story, Lincoln nodded his head, and with a few stokes of his pen, proceeded to write some words on a card. He handed the travel pass to Miss Jones and wished her a Merry Christmas.

Laura Jones could not speak. Her eyes brimmed with tears of happiness. She was so grateful that she fell to her knees before the President.

“Get up!” Ordered Lincoln in a soft fatherly tone. “Do not kneel to me, but thank God and go!”

“Good-bye, Mr. Lincoln,” she said. “I shall probably never again see you until we meet in Heaven.”

President Lincoln was deeply moved. “I am afraid with all my trouble I shall never get to the resting place you speak of, but if I do, I’m sure I will find you there. That you wish me to get there is, I believe, the best wish you could possibly make for me. Good-bye, Miss Jones.”

Helping Laura Jones, a 23 year-old girl in love with an enemy soldier, was one of the nicest Christmas presents Lincoln ever gave. And it was his last. Less than four months later he was shot dead at Ford’s Theater.
Posted 1998-12-13 05:45:00

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