WASHINGTON, DC – On Christmas Day, 1864, Laura Jones made a desperate call on the President of the United States. She absolutely had to get in to see Abraham Lincoln.
A holiday peacefulness had settled over the White House, even though America was still caught up in the throes of the Civil War.
Lincoln had just finished signing a stack of papers. He laid down his pen and sighed.
“What is there left to sign, Mr. Secretary?” Lincoln asked Gideon Welles. “Are we finally through for the day?”
“Mr. President, there is this one special request from a 23-year-old woman who has been trapped in Washington since the war began,” Welles responded.
“She desires to have a pass to travel in Richmond in order to have a Christmas wedding to her sweetheart, Jamie Joe Ballinger – a Confederate soldier.”
There was a long pause. Then, according to Lincoln’s butler, Billy Slade, the President had him go and tell the woman to come in.
Lincoln spoke briefly with the forlorn Laura Jones and her sincerity seemed to make a deep impression on the President.
After silently listening to Laura’s story, Lincoln gently nodded his head, and with a few strokes of his pen, proceeded to write some words on a card.
He handed the travel pass to Miss Jones and wished her a Merry Christmas. Laura Jones could not speak.
Her eyes brimmed with tears of happiness. She was so grateful she fell to her knees before the President.
“Get up,” said Lincoln in a soft fatherly tone of voice. “Do not kneel to me, but thank God and go.”
“Goodbye, Mr. Lincoln,” she said. “I shall probably never again see you until we meet in Heaven.”
President Lincoln was deeply moved. “I am afraid with all my troubles I shall never get to the resting place you speak of, but if I do, I am sure I shall find you. That you wish me to get there is, I believe, the best wish you could possibly make for me. Goodbye, Miss Jones.”
Helping Miss Jones, a young woman in love with an enemy soldier, was one of the nicest Christmas presents Lincoln ever gave. And it was his last. Less than four months later the 16th President of the United States was shot dead at Ford’s Theater.