November/December 2019


The Curious Value of the Unsent Letter

Lucian T. Pera

Have you ever drafted a letter or email, only to decide you really shouldn’t send it? If your answer is no, my question for you is, Why in the world not?

Students of history will recall that Harry Truman, Winston Churchill and Mark Twain each sometimes indulged their anger in letters never dispatched to their targets.

Be Like Abe

Abraham Lincoln would sometimes dash off what he called a “hot letter,” only to set it aside to let his temper cool, and ultimately file it marked “Never sent. Never signed.” One of Lincoln’s unsent missives blamed Union Gen. George Meade for letting Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee escape after Gettysburg, but Meade never got the letter.

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