Browning to Abraham Lincoln, Letter

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Abraham Lincoln papers: Series 1. General Correspondence. 1833-1916: Orville H. Browning to Abraham Lincoln, Wednesday, July 04, 1860 (Honorary degree from Knox College)


Briggs House — Chicago
July 4, 1860

Dear Lincoln

I left home yesterday morning — stopped over at Galesburg to attend the annual meeting of the Board of Trustees of Knox College, of which I am a member, and came on last night, after we had completed our business.

Commencement occurs tomorrow, but I could not remain to witness and participate in the ceremonies.

As is usual on such occasions, the Faculty asked permission of the Board to confer the degree of A. B. on the graduating class — the degree of A. M. on some of the alumni, and honorary degrees upon a few very distinguished, and worthy gentlemen in no way connected with the College. Included in the last class was a request to be permitted to confer the degree of L. L. D. on the Hon. Abraham Lincoln.

The idea originated with the Faculty and the request was made by them without outside prompting; and having been made the Board did not think it would look well in them to refuse this honor to the President of the United States, and so the thing was ordered accordingly.

You will, therefore, after tomorrow consider yourself a “scholar” as well as a “gentleman,” and deport
yourself accordingly.

And however sceptical you may be upon the subject, you will, in due time, receive conclusive documentary evidence that the fact is so, and that you are in reality a Doctor of Laws.

This may not be to you a very gratifying tribute, coming, as it does, from a young institution just struggling for reputation, and for a place among our distinguished seats of learning.

But I may say, for your comfort, that it is one of the best endorsed, and destined to become one of the most useful Colleges in the land, and that in after time it will be no discredit to you that you received your degree at her hands.

We have about $210,000 in cash, loaned at 10 pr ct int: whilst our entire property does not fall short of $400,000.

Truly Yours
O. H. Browning


Browning, Orville H. 1916. Orville H. Browning to Abraham Lincoln, Wednesday, July 04, 1860 (Honorary degree from Knox College). Letter. Abraham Lincoln papers: Series 1. General Correspondence 1833-1916.

Cite this page:

Orville H. Browning. 1860. "Browning to Abraham Lincoln, Letter." History of Higher Education.