Abraham Lincoln’s signature has shown up again in Australia, recalling a tale of piracy and what were likely the last shots of the Civil War. The news that the war was over had not reached Down Under by June 22, 1865, when the Jireh Swift, a whaling ship registered by Lincoln, was destroyed in the Bering Sea.

“This is not a new discovery, but it was previously unknown to our project,” said Daniel Stowell, director of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln. “We continue to be amazed at the places on this earth where original Lincoln documents surface.” The Australian National Maritime Museum has given Lincoln Papers a scan of the document, one of four Lincoln documents found in Australia so far. Stowell learned of the document – registration papers for the Jireh Swift signed by Lincoln on Sept. 1, 1862 – when he was in Australia on a speaking tour.

The Confederacy had little naval strength, so it tried to destroy as many merchant ships as possible. The Confederate ship Shenandoah, after repairs in Melbourne, made its way to the Bering Sea where it captured 38 ships, destroying most of them, including the Jireh Swift. The Shenandoah’s commander found out he was being hunted by the U. S. Navy for piracy, but he made it to England unscathed.

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