Henry Ward Beecher? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: Are you familiar with the amusing anecdote about an “April Fool” letter sent to the famous orator Henry Ward Beecher. Would you please examine the tale’s provenance?
Quote Investigator: The earliest evidence known to QI was published on April 27, 1870 in the “Daily Evening Traveller” of Boston, Massachusetts. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1
SIGNING ONE’S NAME.—Mr. Beecher sends the following note to the N. Y. Ledger:
“MY DEAR MR. BONNER, —I have just received a curious letter from Michigan, and I give it to you verbatim:
“OWASSO CITY, Mich., 1870.
I have heard of men who wrote letters and forgot to sign their name, but never before met a case in which a man signed his name and forgot to write the letter. H.W.B.
Thanks to top researcher Barry Popik who located the citation above.
The text indicated that the tale was reprinted from “The New York Ledger”; hence, an earlier instance exists, but QI has not located it. The database GenealogyBank includes digital scans of “The New York Ledger” from 1856 to 1868. But the target date of 1870 lies outside of this range. Some future researcher may find an earlier instance.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1870 April 27, Daily Evening Traveller (Boston Traveler), Section: Supplement, Article: Signing One’s Name, Quote Page 2, Column 1, Boston, Massachusetts. (GenealogyBank) ↩