24 May 2011

"Hinky" Date on Lincoln Document Suspicious; Historian Confesses

Temptation can be hard to resist - even when one is a recognized researcher.

Thomas Lowry, a long-time Lincoln researcher from Woodbridge, VA, confessed on January 12, 2011, to altering an Abraham Lincoln Presidential pardon that is part of the permanent records of the U.S. National Archives. He admitted that he changed the date on Civil War soldier Patrick Murphy’s pardon, written in Lincoln’s hand, from April 14, 1864, to April 14, 1865, the day John Wilkes Booth assassinated Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC. If the date were real, this would be one of the final acts of Lincoln as President. Lowry sneaked a fountain pen into the Research Room, altered the date, and thence used his "discovery" to enhance his reputation as a Lincoln scholar.

The alteration was in direct violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2071. The statute of limitations has expired so criminal prosecution cannot be taken against Lowry. The National Archives, however, has permanently banned him from all of its facilitiehttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifs and research rooms.

Read the National Archives press release about the Lowry alteration here.

Lowry has since recanted his admission of guilt.

There may be more to this tale yet. It also points to the reason behind the Special Collections security standards we do our best to follow in the BDC Research Room.

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