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Condolences from Franklin Pierce

Franklin Pierce, the 14th president of the United States, opposed president Lincoln politically. In many ways, the two men were complete opposites: they were members of different political parties, had different backgrounds, and held different viewpoints. However, tragedy linked the two men. Pierce lost two of his sons at an early age. His last son, Benjamin, was killed in a train accident just two months before Pierce’s presidential inauguration. In consolation, he wrote to his successor in office:

"My dear Sir,

The impulse to write you, the moment I heard of your great domestic affliction was very strong, but it brought back the crushing sorrow which befel me just before I went to Washington in 1853, with such power that I felt your grief to be too sacred for intrusion.

Even in this hour, so full of danger to our Country, and of trial and anxiety to all good men, your thoughts will be, of your cherished boy, who will nestle at your heart, until you meet him in that new life, when tears and toils and conflict will be unknown.

I realize fully how vain it would be, to suggest sources of consolation.

There can be but one refuge in such an hour, but one remedy for smitten hearts, which, is to trust in Him "who doeth all things well", and leave the rest to:

'Time, comforter & only healer
When the heart hath bled"

With Mrs Pierce's and my own best wishes and truest sympathy for Mrs Lincoln and yourself

I am, very truly,
yr friend
Franklin Pierce"