Record price for Lincoln speech on 200th birthday

Thu Feb 12, 2009 5:42pm EST
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A speech delivered by President Abraham Lincoln two days after his 1864 presidential election victory was sold for a record $3.44 million on Thursday, the 200th anniversary of his birth.

The price paid by an undisclosed buyer set a new auction record for a Lincoln manuscript, auction house Christie's said in a statement.

The handwritten four-page speech had a pre-sale estimated value of $3 million to $4 million.

"Today's auction is a testimony to Americans' and the world's abiding interest in and reverence for President Abraham Lincoln," a Christie's statement said.

The auction house said the price of $3,442,500 was not only an auction record for a Lincoln document but also for any American historical document.

In the letter, Lincoln called upon his fellow Americans to "re-unite in a common effort, to save our common country."

Lincoln successfully led the country through the Civil War, preserving the Union and ending slavery.

(Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Alan Elsner)