An Artistic Conspiracy


  Springfield, May 15th, 1928

  My dear Sir,  

Your note is just received. Although, I am suffering, today, with one, of my severe headaches, by way of relieving your mind, hasten to reply. I understand your confusion--in time you will come to understand. (10)

Four decades passed, from my last trip to Springfield, before any one took interest in me. I was a forgotten soul, and then, over a three-year period, a series of publications, and events revived my lost memory. You must read these publications with due haste. (11)

1925--William E. Barton published The Life of Abraham Lincoln, in which he re-examined my insanity trial.

1926--My son, Robert Todd Lincoln, died in July.

1927--William E. Barton published The Women Lincoln Loved, in which he asserted the most perfidious lies.

1927--Myra Helmer Pritchard, the granddaughter of a guardian spirit, fought unsuccessfully to publish The Dark Days of Abraham Lincoln's Widow, as Revealed by Her Own Letters.

1928--Katherine Helm, the sweet and genteel daughter of one of my half-sisters, Emilie Todd Helm, published The True Story of Mary, Wife of Lincoln.

1928--Honoré Willsie Morrow published the praised Mary Todd Lincoln: An Appreciation of the Wife of Abraham Lincoln.

1928--Ida Tarbell wrote two widely read articles in the Ladies' Home Journal in February and March titled: Mary Todd Lincoln: Wife of Abraham Lincoln.

And, even in your day, there is another forgotten soul, Mr. Francis Bicknell Carpenter. I first met him February 6, 1864--he always had the reputation of being a very honest man. I always felt great pride, in the success of his great painting the "Emancipation Proclamation." In 1865, he asked to paint my portrait, but, I had to decline for my nervous state, at that time, made it impossible for me to sit for a photograph. I would have liked to have obliged him. Instead, I referred him to the excellent painted likeness of me at Brady's in N.Y., taken in 1861, and enclosed herewith. In truth, he had already painted my likeness on two previous occasions. (12)

Francis B. Carpenter "Mary Lincoln" 1864
Indiana University Museum of Art
Bloomington, Indiana

F. B. Carpenter "Lincoln Family" Detail, 1865
New York State Historical Society
New York, New York  


I know, the above will be perplexing, but a storm is brewing on the distant horizon, a storm of money and greed. An artistic conspiracy is taking place and, I only pray, you will return good for evil. I will help you, and steer your life accordingly, but the days' work will be yours. I know I can trust your benevolent soul to assist my needs with these circumstances. Praying you will excuse, my troubling you, so much, on a subject, that is of such vital importance to us. (13)


I remain very truly



Editors' Note:

We were able to find the two Carpenter images of Mary Lincoln and positioned these above. The Mathew Brady 1861 photo, described as a "painted likeness," and the "Emancipation Proclamation" are imaged below.


Mathew Brady "Mary Lincoln" 1861
Library of Congress
Washington, D.C.

Francis Carpenter "First Reading of the
Emancipation Proclamation" 1864
Senate Wing, West Staircase
Washington, D.C.






Beloit, Wisconsin

Dear Mrs. Lincoln,

I thank you for the reading list you sent in your last letter. I also read up on Francis Carpenter. I had no idea he completed one of our country's most famous works. I showed the image to numerous friends. Everyone knew the painting; no one knew the artist.

I still don't understand what this has to do with me and I'm not sure what you are talking about concerning "money and greed." I'm just an art history student at a small Wisconsin college. What "artistic conspiracy" are you talking about?


Barry Bauman



Page 4



Page 1--Editors' Introduction

Page 2--You Must Not Fail Me

Page 3--An Artistic Conspiracy

Page 4--Principal Conspirator

Page 5--Co-Conspirator

Page 6--The Affidavit

Page 7--Unknowing Participants

Page 8--Accessories A, B, C, D

Page 9--Springfield

Page 10--Cleaning

Page 11--All That is Excellent

Page 12--Smoking Gun

Page 13--Judgment

Page 14--App./Acknowledgments



10. Your note...reply. Turner. p. 304. Letter to David Davis. 12/13/1865.

11. The four decades concept taken from Neeley/McMurtry. p.123.

12. Carpenter records this date in Carpenter. p. 8. The Turner. p. 366. Letter to Simon Cameron. 5/19/1866. I always..."Emancipation Proclamation." Turner. p. 278. Letter to Francis Bicknell Carpenter. 7/17/1865. My nervous state...1861. Turner. p.283. Letter to Francis Bicknell Carpenter. 11/15/1865. Carpenter requested a photograph of Mary Lincoln for he often used them as references for his portrait work.

13. I only pray...evil. Turner. p. 50. Letter to Emilie Todd Helm. 9/20/1857. Praying Turner. p 300. Letter to Elihu B. Washburne. 12/9/1865.




Barry Bauman Conservation
Contact: Mr. Barry Bauman
1122 N. Jackson Ave., River Forest, IL. 60305
Ph.(708)771-0382  Fax.(708)771-1532