Handwritten letter from Abraham Lincoln for sale

Lincoln wrote the letter before becoming the nation's 16th president.

Lincoln wrote the letter before becoming the nation’s 16th president.  (File)

Shortly after the presidential candidates name-dropped Abraham Lincoln in their Sunday night debate, historians have announced that a rare letter written by the man who would become our nation’s 16th president is for sale.

The date on the letter: Nov. 3, 1859, less than 2 years before Lincoln was elected commander in chief.

He wrote to a man named Peachy Quinn Harrison, who came from a Republican family in Pleasant Plains, Illinois, and stood trial for murdering a rival from a family of Democrats. Lincoln, a lawyer at the time, had joined the defense team, and Harrison was ultimately acquitted.

In his letter, written after the trial, Lincoln urged Harrison to get involved in the political process, and to use his youth to his advantage.

“A young man, before the enemy has learned to watch him, can do more than any other. Pitch and try,” he wrote.

Lincoln also urged Harrison to join the political campaign of John M. Palmer – the lead prosecutor in Harrison’s case. Lincoln and Palmer were friends when they weren’t sparring in court, historians said.

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The Rabb Collection announced the letter was for sale. Its price tag: $40,000.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump referenced Lincoln during the second presidential debate. When asked by moderator Martha Raddatz about her supposed public and private positions, Clinton responded, “President Lincoln was trying to convince some people, he used some arguments, convincing other people, he used other arguments.”

Donald Trump’s response: “Honest Abe never lied. That’s the good thing. That’s the big difference between Abraham Lincoln and you.”