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Civil War-Era Letter Found in West Virginia Museum

Friday, March 27, 2020

William McKinleyCEREDO, WEST VIRGINIA—The Wayne County News reports that Isabella Carpintero, a student at Morehead State University, discovered a letter written by President William McKinley in a book at the Z.D. Ramsdell Civil War House. Located near the Ohio River, Ramsdell House is thought to have served as one of the last stops on the Underground Railroad before escaped slaves crossed into the North. The letter is addressed to Zophar D. Ramsdell, an abolitionist who served as a captain and quartermaster for the Union Army, and dated June 27, 1862, when McKinley was a lieutenant in the 23rd Ohio Infantry. McKinley is thought to have written the letter himself, and not dictated it to a scribe. A copy has been sent to the McKinley Presidential Museum and Library for authentication. To read about one of the first self-contatined communities established by African Americans, go to "Letter from Virginia: Free Before Emancipation."

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