My paramount object is to save the Union and is not either to save or destroy slavery...The historian Phillip Shaw Paludan wrote about the importance of the letter;
If there is one document that is more often quoted than any other in the argument, debate, or conversation about Lincoln it is the letter that Lincoln wrote on August 22, 1862 to Horace Greeley.Why is this American treasure at America's oldest art museum, the Wadsworth Atheneum ? Dr. James Clarke Welling, president of George Washington University 1871-1894 was given the letter by President Lincoln and retained the original letter his entire life. In 1880, Welling wrote the Emancipation Proclamation in North American Review stating:
This letter appeared for the first time in the National Intelligencer on August 23, 1862 and the letter came into my hands from the fact I was one of the editors.
In 1923, Miss Elizabeth L. Dixon, on behalf of the Welling family and brother in-law, Dr. James Clarke Welling, donated this Lincoln masterpiece to the Wadsworth Atheneum.
Miss Dixon's father, Sen James Dixon was a life member of this revered institution. Since inception in the 1840s, the Wadsworth Atheneum has served the community as both public art museum, historical society and public library. Philanthropic stewardship by the Dixon-Welling family continued over the years donating family historical treasures to the Hartford Public Library and Connecticut Historical Society.