Principal Conspirator


  Springfield, June 20th, 1928

  My dear Sir,    

With much pleasure I acknowledge the receipt of one of your acceptable letters, & notwithstanding many weeks have passed since writing you, I have frequently intended doing so, & you have been oftentimes in my thoughts. Although I am suffering with a fearful headache I fear I am in villanous hands. I am brought to tears when I think over the wrong and injustice that has been done me. (14)

I am very vehement against the greatest scoundrels of the age...The first of whom I pronounce a very profligate man. He will prove himself an ungrateful villain in this matter who does not know, what truth means. He was a wretched young man but old in sin and falsehoods--a "monster of mankind." The villain I speak of is Lew Bloom, but, as you will come to see, that is not his real name. (15)

Bloom has worn many nefarious hats. He was born August 8, 1859, in Philadelphia, although, his family soon moved to Reading. As a boy, he tried his hand as a jockey only to give it up at thirteen for a life as an acrobat, dancer, and clown in the circus. After several years, he returned to Reading, to become a boxer and manager of the depraved Bijou Saloon.

Always the clown, Bloom left Reading and went to New York to try his hand on the vaudeville theater circuit. And where did he find his "success"? In the most lowly of roles, playing a tramp. He talked with a rasping whiskey voice, his fingers twitched, his eyes and mouth moved nervously, and his gaze shifted guiltily. After one performance, in 1885, he was arrested for coming to fisticuffs with the theater's manager.

  Lew Bloom

"The Millionaire's Son Out of
Work," in Vaudeville. 1907

He now swims in the cold waters of the art world. He befriended Albert Blakelock and bought forty paintings from him, only to sell them through New York dealers. He considers himself an art expert and collector. He even dabbles in oil painting. I will always remember, his statement after his arrest--"a fine martyrdom for the sake of art"--as if the man knows anything about art. (16)

This man will meet the doom which a just Heaven ever awards the transgressor. Even if Bloom succeeds in being a rich man, what advantage will it be to him, who has gained it in some cases most unjustly. Truly the Leopard cannot change his spots.

I write so rapidly I fear my letters are not so easily read. Please burn this letter, so hurriedly written that I dare not read it over. Write very frequently. (17)


Mrs. A. Lincoln


Editors' Note:

Bloom's full obituary is reproduced at the end of this account in Appendix A. We recently found the below image of Bloom from his 1929 passport used when he petitioned to race horses in Cuba. (18)


Lew Bloom 1929

Passport Racing Petition





Chicago, Illinois

Dear Mrs. Lincoln,


It has been some time since I have heard from you. I received your letter this morning as I was preparing for tomorrow's Thanksgiving. I read the letter three times, but there was nothing I could put my finger on with respect to plots, conspirators, and falsehoods. Are you getting enough rest?

I'm still confused as to how I can help you. Personally, I'm quite depressed at the moment as I labor through my art history graduate work at the University of Chicago. This is such a depressing place. I know you were overwhelmed when you came to Chicago after leaving the White House. I can't imagine what it was like for you.

Your letter referred to "scoundrels," in the plural, but you only discussed Bloom. Please explain.


Barry Bauman


 Page 5



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



14. With much pleasure...thoughts. Turner. p. 45. Letter to Emilie Todd Helm. 11/23/1856. Although I am...hands. Turner. pp. 460-461. Letter to Elizabeth Keckley. 11/23/1867. When I Turner. p. 534. Letter to Sally Orne. 12/12/1869.

15. Very Pritchard/Emerson. p. 128. Letter to Myra Bradwell. 7/14/1876. He will prove...matter. Turner. p. 711. Letter to Noyes W. Miner. 1/3/1882. Who does not...means. Turner. p. 104. Letter to Elizabeth Todd Grimsley. 9/13/1861. He was a...sin. Turner. p. 633. Letter to Edward Lewis Baker. 4/11/1877. "monster of mankind." Baker. p. 349.

16. Bloom clipping sent by Mr. Jeremy Megraw, New York Public Library, in an email dated 6/15/11. The unsourced image was stamped, "June 30, 1907." The same image was reproduced in the Reading Eagle. p. 6. 4/17/1910. Biographical information taken from Bloom's obituary in the Reading Eagle. 12/12/1929. Blakelock association reviewed in Vincent. pp. 200-201. Account of Bloom's arrest and martyrdom statement from DePastino. p. 157.

17. This man...transgressor. Turner. p. 220. Letter to Abram Wakeman. 4/13/1865. Even if...spots. Turner. p. 105. Letter to Elizabeth Todd Grimsley. 9/29/1861. I write...frequently. Turner. p. 684. Letter to Edward Lewis Baker, Jr. 6/22/1879.

18. Bloom's passport supplied by genealogical expert, Ms. Susan Buehler, East Lansing, Michigan, in an email dated 4/20/11.




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