Lost Lincoln Document Found In College Closet: What Do The President's Lost Papers Reveal?

By Staff Reporter on June 10, 2013 1:44 PM EDT

Abraham Lincoln.
A lost Lincoln document was rediscovered inside the closet of the president of Pennsylvania's Lycoming College. (Photo: Creative Commons)

A lost Lincoln document was discovered inside the closet of Lycoming College's retiring President James Douthat. Douthat was cleaning out his closet when he stumbled upon a historical piece of paper that belonged to President Abraham Lincoln.

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A remarkable discovery, Douthat was surprised to learn where the document had been kept.

"I assume it was in the top of the closet 24 years ago," Douthat said. "I had never seen it."

A fable within Lycoming College, Douthat said, "'In the back of my mind, I remember hearing about it."

According to Lycoming College officials, the existence of a lost Lincoln document is well known. However, no one could figure out exactly where the treasure was placed.

"It was (initially) discovered a while ago," said associate dean and library director Janet McNeil Hurlbert. "And then it got ... put someplace else for a while."

According to retiring President James Douthat, the lost Lincoln document was a certificate signed by the President of the United States in 1863 that named the founder of Lycoming College a Civil War chaplain.

According to U.S. Army Chaplain Corps historian emeritus John Brinsfield, Benjamin Crever was one of 500 Union hospital chaplains at the time. Crever was assigned to a military hospital in Frederick, Md., where he served from July 1862 through August 1865.

The certificate appears to be in good condition as it was protected behind a slightly worn black frame. "When I took it down, of course I recognized Lincoln's signature immediately," said President James Douthat. What's more, Douthat notes that Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton signed the document as well.

"Civil War commissions of any type are rare because they were sent to the individual chaplains," explained John Brinsfield. "If any exist, it is only because the families saved them."

A priceless treasure for Lycoming College that celebrates the achievements of college founder Benjamin Crever, a preliminary appraisal values the certificate at more than $6,000.

The lost Lincoln document is now safely stored in the college archives located in the basement of the library.

See a photo of the lost Lincoln document here.

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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