T HE LETTERS on the following pages are presented chronologically, rather than by topic, to best provide a sense of the broad range of subjects that Lincoln's correspondents addressed daily. The editor has made a determined effort to preserve the letters in their original state. Misspellings are not corrected, and the warning flag, sic, is employed only to alert modern readers to the most egregious and potentially confusing errors. Nor is standard punctuation imposed; even if nineteenth-century authors eschewed periods and commas, they are not corrected here. Perhaps most important of all, underlined passages are not changed into italics -- the modern editing method of choice. Such passages are allowed to remain underlined here, just as their original authors intended. Editorial impositions within the texts are kept to a minimum: only the names of important persons and events are identified in bracketed commentary. Sources for letters, editorial notes, and/or Lincoln's replies come at the end of the last editorial note. If no reference is listed, then the source is the Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress .
Whenever responses from Lincoln are available, they are presented following each citizen letter, and these also appear with no editing. Secretarial endorsements and comments are given when they can be found.
Only one major concession has been made to the modern standards of documentary reproduction. To avoid a cacophony of design, salutations and return addresses have been standardized, with the former placed at the left-hand corner of each letter with no indentation and the latter placed at the right. Correspondents of the day might use four or five lines to write a flamboyant salutation, and these were tightened and restricted to a line or two. But readers of this book should feel confident that no other alterations have been permitted.