LINCOLN IN DEATH … A NEW PHOTO – RESEARCH PROJECT

AUGUST 22, 2008: To see the conclusion of this project see the article posted on August 21, 2008 called “Harold Holzer Comments on “Lincoln in Death” Photo.

August 15, 2008: Barry Cauchon.

Hi all: We’ve had a good response from many of you offering your assistance to help prove or disprove the validity of a photograph found about 1 year ago by a Mr. P.  For those of you just reading this posting and not knowing the context of the project, I’ll refer you to the following posting “NEW LINCOLN PHOTO … A VERY SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT” http://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2008/08/13/new-lincoln-photo-a-very-special-announcement/.

Today, I’m going to describe the photo, point out the current Pros and Cons that Mr. P and I have identified, and list the different areas of research that we’d like to cover. I’ll then ask you to fan out and gather whatever information you can locate and forward it to outreach@awesometalks.com under the title of LINCOLN PHOTO RESEARCH. I will review and edit the responses and post them as soon as possible requesting your further comments.

A. THE PHOTOGRAPH:

For simplicity sake, I will refer to the man in the picture as Lincoln until we have concluded that it is definitely not him. Please understand that it is not our intention to assume that this is a photo of our late president. All we are proposing is that it ‘could be’, and that is the basis for this investigation.

According to Mr. P., the photographic technique is either a Daguerreotype or a tinplate. It is mounted into a 2 piece hinged folding frame (Victorian design) with an oval cut out exposing the photograph. What looks to be a silver filigree frames out a rectangular border around the oval image area. The opposite interior leaf has an embroidered flower pattern on a red velvet background.

The condition of the photographic surface is not pristine. There is some deterioration on the surface but generally the image is still in good shape.

No markings are found on the frame’s surfaces. As well, the photograph has never been removed from the frame therefore we do not know if there are any markings or notations on the back which could help solve this puzzle. Plans to remove the plate will be made once a qualified and experienced conservator is confirmed to do the work safely. Any markings found could establish the identification and validity of the photograph.

THE IMAGE: The image shows a head and torso shot of a bearded man, lying in a bed from right to left. His head rests on a white pillow with splotches on the left side. He is wearing a long sleeve, large collared white shirt with black top button. His arms and fingers are long and slender. His left hand lays above and slightly on top of the right arm. The right hand is clearly visible. No rings are visible on the fingers. Below the right hand is a patterned comforter or quilt.

The face appears round and has a thick black beard with some gray showing below the chin and along the left jaw line. The upper lip is clean-shaven but shows day old growth. Lincoln’s nose is almost ‘pug’ in appearance although the angle of the photo puts the vantage point below the nose thus creating a foreshortened look. The face has a high forehead with his hair falling back away to the left.

B. PROS AND CONS: Here are some of the pros and cons that Mr. P and I have considered since we began this project together on August 7, 2008.

PROS

  1. The image shows a bearded man similar to Abraham Lincoln
  2. The arms and fingers are long and slender indicating that this body could belong to a tall man, such as Abraham Lincoln.
  3. A mole is visible on the right cheek in the location where Lincoln’s mole was located.
  4. The left hand does not have a wedding ring. Lincoln did not wear jewelry.
  5. Lincoln was covered with a patterned quilt or comforter while he laid in the bed at the Peterson House. The pattern of the quilt in the photo could possibly match the real quilt that was on the bed that long night.

CONS

  1. The face is round.
  2. The nose is ‘pug’ in appearance.
  3. Lincoln is wearing a shirt where it has been documented that the president was stripped so his body could be inspected by surgeons to look for other wounds.
  4. The pillow has some potential blood stains, but the last known picture from Lincoln’s death bed in the Peterson House clearly shows a blood soaked pillow.
  5. The beard is fuller than most later photos of Lincoln have shown.

POSSIBLE ARGUMENTS TO DISPUTE THE CONS:

  1. The face is round.  Where head wounds are concerned, there is often significant swelling. This may account for the  roundness of the face. If you cover the left side of the face, dividing it into two, the right side of the face looks very much like Abraham Lincoln.
  2. The nose is ‘pug’ in appearance. As mentioned earlier, the angle of the photo has foreshortened the look of the nose. As well, swelling might account for the rounded shape.
  3. Lincoln is wearing a shirt… As part of our research we will be looking into the possibility that Lincoln was redressed prior to moving him from the Peterson Home. He certainly was dressed after his autopsy and made ready for his funeral and numerous viewings.
  4. The pillow has little blood on it.  Again, this make sense if it can be determine exactly when the photo was taken.
  5. The beard is fuller. In photos apparently taken of Lincoln prior to his death, he is shown with shorter facial hair. Historians are not 100% in agreement on what was the final photograph taken of Abraham Lincoln. Howver, in February of 1865, 2 months before the assassination, Lincoln had his second life mask cast by Clark Mills. This mask shows Lincoln with a full beard. Still, this issue, more than any other, causes the most concern at verifying the image as being genuine.

C. THE CHALLENGE:

Okay, so here is our challenge. Over the next two weeks, we hope to get your help in tracking down as many facts about the time periods that will be listed below. We believe that the authenticity of this photo will be determined by much of your research.

AREAS OF RESEARCH:

Based on the timeline that this photograph may have been taken, we believe that it occurred sometime between the moment Lincoln died up until he was dressed after his embalming. These are the three different timelines we want to concentrate on:

  • A: Lincoln’s death at 7:22am on April 15, 1865 at the Peterson House up to the time he was returned to the White House prior to his autopsy at around 9:00am that same morning.
  • B: Lincoln’s autopsy until the time he was passed to the embalmers for preparation for his funeral.
  • C: Lincoln’s embalming to the time he was dressed and prepared for public viewing by the undertakers.

Find whatever information you can and send it, along with references, to outreach@awesometalks.com.  Your subject line should say LINCOLN PHOTO RESEARCH. Please include your name and email address so I can get back to you privately.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Regrettably, vacations come at the most inconvenient times (lol) and I have one scheduled to occur from August 22 to 30. I will be away from all computer access during that period so please do not feel I’m ignoring your wonderful help on this. Be patient and I will return all emails upon my return.

With your help, we know we can determine one way or another, whether this photograph is really Mr. Lincoln or not.

Good hunting.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

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If you are interested in Abraham Lincoln, you should read these interviews by two Lincoln experts:

 

“An Awesometalk With” Harold Holzer, Lincoln Scholar

(posted on November 10, 2008) 

 

  “An Awesometalk With” Dr. Thomas Schwartz, Illinois State Historian 

(posted on December 08, 2008) 

 

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NEW LINCOLN PHOTO … A VERY SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

AUGUST 22, 2008: To see the conclusion of this project see the article posted on August 21, 2008 called “Harold Holzer Comments on “Lincoln in Death” Photo.

 
August 13, 2008: Barry Cauchon
.
QUESTION: If someone came to you looking for help in proving whether a photo they owned was a genuine picture of Abraham Lincoln taken sometime after his death, would you be interested? Most of you would say “DAH, of course I’d be interested. Are you nuts”!
.
Well, for the past year, a gentleman, who owns such a picture, has been writing to experts and Lincoln writers, trying to find someone to look at it and comment on it’s authenticity one way or another. So after one year, can you guess what happened? Not one single person responded to him. Not one! How unbelievable is that!
.
But this very private gentleman, whom I’ll call Mr. P, isn’t one to give up easily. So last week, I received an email from him stating his desire to resolve this puzzle. I responded to him…and I’m glad I did. We have had many good exchanges ever since.
So to start, here is Mr. P’s email…
  
August 7, 2008
 
Hello to all. This site was very helpful to me in doing research on a Daguerreotype or tintype I found in a family Desk about a year ago. The desk has been in my family for many many years and really has never been cleaned out. I have had it 23 years. I wanted to move it to another room, so I started to clean it out. And in one of the small drawers, I found a photo, which my research finds is a Daguerreotype or tintype. Well, looking at it I said to myself “This looks like Abe Lincoln…dead!”. So I tried to find out as much info as I could. No one would return my emails etc. Now I know this sounds crazy but to me it looks like Abe Lincoln. I just want to find out if it may be the real thing on not. So any info would be helpful. Thank you.
.
WOW, just think…someone may have found a photo of Abraham Lincoln taken after his death!
It’s exciting. And that is why we want to share the experience and process with you. Over the next three weeks, we will be looking for people interested in helping us with our research. At the end of that three weeks we will publish the photo along with the research we’ve all gathered. Hopefully the combination of the photo and the research will lead to a great debate about its authenticity. We want to prove or disprove that this photo is Abraham Lincoln after death. Either result will be accepted as long as its been accomplished as objectively as possible.
.
The photo will be published here on Wednesday, September 03, 2008.
In coming posts, I will describe the photograph and the pros and cons that Mr. P and I believe need to be considered. As well, I will list the areas where we need more accurate information and research.
.
Let’s have fun with this and maybe, you may be helping us to prove that a long lost photograph has been found that is Abraham Lincoln after death.
.
Please comment here or send me an email at outreach@awesometalks.com with the subject line that reads “Lincoln Photo Research”.
.
Best
Barry
& Mr. P.
.

—————————————————————–

  

If you are interested in Abraham Lincoln, you should read these interviews by two Lincoln experts:

 

“An Awesometalk With” Harold Holzer, Lincoln Scholar

(posted on November 10, 2008) 

 

  “An Awesometalk With” Dr. Thomas Schwartz, Illinois State Historian 

(posted on December 08, 2008) 

 

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LINCOLN PHOTOS – REAL, FAKE OR ‘WHO KNOWS’!

NOTE: These two articles below have been updated on August 20, 2008.

July 24, 2008: Barry Cauchon:

1. What is the current thinking about the purported John Badger Bachelder photo of Lincoln in death? Is it genuine, an outright fake or still up for debate?

Unauthenticated photo of Lincoln after death, April 16,1865

Unauthenticated photo of Lincoln after death, reported to be taken in the White House on April 16,1865 by John B. Bachelder.

For those of you who are not familiar with this disputed photo, the controversial image was apparently taken at the White House on April 16, 1865, the day after Lincoln died.  
The photographer was John B. Bachelder who took the photo in low light conditions to use as a reference shot for making an engraving. Like many photos of the day, it was touched up by adding more hair to Lincoln’s chin.
John B. Bachelder and wife 1890

John B. Bachelder and wife 1890

You rarely see this image published in Lincoln-related documentation because it’s authenticity is highly in dispute. On the other hand, there are still some true believers. I assume the debate continues.
To date, there is only one photograph of Lincoln in death that is accepted as authentic.
It was taken while he was lying in state in NYC during the Funeral Train tour from Washington DC to Springfield, IL.
Authenticated photo of Lincoln in his casket taken by John Gurney, Jr. on April 24, 1865 in New York City

Authenticated photo of Lincoln in his casket taken by Jeremiah Gurney, Jr. on April 24, 1865 in New York City

The photo was taken by Jeremiah Gurney, Jr. on Monday, April 24, 1865 in the rotunda of New York’s City Hall while the president’s body was being prepared for public viewing. Lincoln historians have accepted this photo as genuine and is not in question.

Truth is sometimes hard to find, so the question still remains. Is the Bachelder photo genuine, an outright fake or still up for debate?

NOTE: As this is a ‘very hot topic’ on some websites, I would prefer that the battles be waged elsewhere. However, if you wish to add ‘your view’ without name calling, I’ll gladly post your comments. Debate is good but don’t get beligerent! It won’t be tolerated. Thank you.

  

 

2. Lincoln at Gettysburg – Images of President Lincoln may have been found in Alexander Gardner photos taken on November 19, 1863.

Two photos taken by Alexander Gardner on November 19, 1863 at the dedication ceremonies for Soldier’s Cemetery at Gettysburg were discovered to have images of what looks like Abraham Lincoln in the crowd.

Enhanced image from Alexander Gardiner photo of Gettysburg Dedication Ceremonies taken on Nov. 19, 1863. Is this Abraham Lincoln in the stovetop hat?

Enhanced image from Alexander Gardner photo of Gettysburg Dedication Ceremonies taken on Nov. 19, 1863. Is this Abraham Lincoln in the stovetop hat?

In December, 2006, John Richter, the director for the Center for Civil War Photography was viewing images from a collection of over 5000 Civil War photos made available online to the public by the Library of Congress. Mr. Richter was focusing on a series of 3-D stereoscope images of the crowds at the Gettysburg Soldier’s Cemetery dedication ceremonies taken on the day that Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address.

“I noticed there were three negatives from the dedication that were taken close together,” he said. “That struck me as odd because of the difficulty and cost of taking pictures back then. I also noticed the camera was not pointed at the stand but more toward the right. I zoomed in, and that was when I saw this figure.”

In the distance, a tall bearded man wearing a stovepipe hat was spotted. The man is on horseback and is part of the procession leading to the stage.

One of the enhanced images shows Lincoln passing by a row of soldiers, and a second shows him saluting them while wearing white gloves. The third was not clear. He has his face partially turned away with his back to the camera.

Although there is not 100% proof that this is Lincoln, the series of photos was presented at the Lincoln Forum Conference at Gettysburg held in November, 2007. Harold Holzer, vice chairman of the forum and respected Lincoln author and historian, indicated that many experts, including himself, spoke highly of the photos and confirmed their belief that these are genuine pictures of Lincoln at Gettysburg taken a short time before his famous address.

Detractors argue that the person identified as Lincoln could actually be Ward Hill Lamon, Lincoln’s friend and self appointed bodyguard. He also wore a beard and favored wearing stovepipe hats. Lamon accompied Lincoln to the Gettysburg ceremonies that day.

Ward Hill Lamon

Up to this point, the only authenticated photo of Lincoln at Gettysburg was found by Josephine Cobb at the National Archives in Washington DC in 1952.

Lincoln at Gettysburg

Enhanced photo of Lincoln on stage prior to giving Gettysburg Address.

So, is the figure that Mr. Richter found really Abraham Lincoln? Many want to believe that it is. What do you think?

If you go to the attached link from USA TODAY, they have done a wonderful job of posting the images. Use their ‘Pan and Zoom’ feature to examine the details of both photos. Kudo’s to the folks who put this together.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-11-15-gettysburg-images_N.htm

Library of Congress Images: The actual photographs, which belong to the public, can be seen at the Library of Congress Web site, lcweb2.loc.gov/pp/pphome.html. Enter “stereograph+civil war” in the search field.

Center for Civil War Photography: You can see the photos at the Center for Civil War Photography’s Web site, www.civilwarphotography.org.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

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If you are interested in Abraham Lincoln, you should read these interviews by two Lincoln experts:

 

“An Awesometalk With” Harold Holzer, Lincoln Scholar

(posted on November 10, 2008) 

 

  “An Awesometalk With” Dr. Thomas Schwartz, Illinois State Historian 

(posted on December 08, 2008) 

 

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DID YOU KNOW (Part 10) ABRAHAM LINCOLN

In this version of DID YOU KNOW (Part 10) ABRAHAM LINCOLN, you’ll discover that there are an amazing amount of unique facts found about Mr. Lincoln after his death.

1. Did you know … that Abraham Lincoln was the first President of the United States to be embalmed?

2. Did you know … that after the president’s death, over one million people looked upon Lincoln’s face in open casket viewings?

It’s true. After it was decided that Lincoln would be buried in his hometown of Springfield, Illinois, a special funerary train trip was planned. Lincoln’s Funeral Train would essentially take the reverse route used by the President-elect in 1861 from Springfield to Washington. This time however, both Cincinnati and Pittsburgh would be bypassed in favor of Chicago.

The train car called "United States" was used as Lincoln's Funeral Car.                                                                             This car, called the United States, carried the coffins of both President Lincoln and his son, WIllie.

The Lincoln Funeral Train in Harrisburg, PA.

The Lincoln Funeral Train in Harrisburg, PA.

The coffin with the remains of Lincoln’s 11 year old son, Willie, who died of typhoid fever in the White House in 1862, was placed on the train with his father. Both would be buried together in Springfield.

The train dubbed “The Lincoln Special” left Washington DC on April 21, 1865 and arrived in Springfield on May 3rd.

Lincoln Funeral Train Route (Apr 21 - May 3, 1865)

Lincoln Funeral Train Route (Apr 21 - May 3, 1865)

During the 1,654 mile, 13 day trek, the train traveled through 180 towns and cities, of which only 11 were allowed to host open-casket viewings. These cities were:

1.   Baltimore, MD

2.   Harrisburg, PA

3.   Philadelphia, PA

4.   New York, NY

5.   Albany, NY

6.   Buffalo, NY

7.   Cleveland, OH

8.   Columbus, OH

9.   Indianapolis, IN

10.  Chicago, IL

11.  Springfield, IL

Sidebar:As early as the New York stopover, observers noticed that Lincoln’s face was showing signs of blackening and discolorization. For the remainder of the trip, undertakers would frequently apply white chalk powder, rouge and amber makeup to make the President appear as normal as possible.

3. Did you know … that only one photograph is known to exist of President Lincoln lying in his open coffin? It was taken on Monday, April 24, 1865 in the rotunda of New York’s City Hall while the president’s body was prepared for public viewing. New York photographer Jeremiah Gurney, Jr. took several photographs of Lincoln while lying in state. The following day, after hearing about the existence of these photographs, a furious Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton ordered that all the plates, prints and engravings be destroyed. This order was carried out with the photographer’s cooperation. One print did escape this fate and was sent to Stanton himself. He kept it hidden in his papers for fear of rebuke by Mary Lincoln. In 1887, Stanton’s son Lewis, discovered it and sent it to John Nicolay believing that he, and John Hay, Lincoln’s former secretaries, would use it in their 10-volume life of Lincoln.  They did not. It remained out of the public eye until July 20, 1952 when a fourteen-year old boy named Ronald Rietveld, found it amongst John Nicolay-John Hay’s papers at the Illinois State Historical Library. 

Lincoln lies in state in NYC's City Hall on April 24, 1865

Sidebar: When Stanton found out about the photographs, he sent a telegram to Brigadier-General Townsend accompanying the President’s body on his final journey. Taken from the book “Lincoln: An Illustrated Biography” by Philip B. Kunhardt Jr., here are the series of telegrams that went back and forth between Stanton and Townsend regarding this incident. 

 

Washington City,

April 25, 1865 – 11:40 p.m.

Brigadier-General Townsend,

Adjutant-General, New York:

    I see by the New York papers this evening that a photograph of the corpse…was allowed to be taken yesterday in New York. I cannot sufficiently express my surprise and disapproval of such an act while the body was in your charge. You will report what officers of the funeral escort were or ought to have been on duty at the time this was done, and immediately relieve them…. You will also direct the provost-marshall to go to the photographer, seize and destroy the plates and any pictures or engravings that may have been made, and consider yourself responsible if the offense is repeated.

 Edwin M. Stanton

Secretary of War.

 

 ****

 

Albany, N.Y.

April 26, 1865

(Received 10:40 a.m.)

Hon. E. M. Stanton

Secretary of War:

    Your dispatch of this date is received. The photograph was taken when I was present…. I have telegraphed General Dix your orders about seizing the plates. To whom shall I turn over the special charge given me in order to execute your instructions to relieve the officer responsible…?

 E. D. Townsend,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

 

****

 

 

Washington City,

April 26, 1865 – 12:30 p.m.

Brig.Gen. E. D. Townsend,

 … You being in charge, and present at the time, the sole responsibility rests upon you; but having no other officer … that can relieve you and take your place you will continue in charge of the remains under your instructions until they are finally interred….

Edwin M. Stanton,

Secretary of War.

 

****

 

Albany, N.Y.

April 26, 1865

 Hon. E. M. Stanton

General Dix, who is here, suggests that I should explain to you how the photograph was taken. The remains had just been arranged in state in the City Hall, at the head of the stairway, where the people would ascend on one side and descend on the other…. The photographer was in a gallery twenty feet higher than the body, and at least forty distant from it. Admiral Davis stood at the head and I at the foot of the coffin. No-one else was in view. The effect of the picture would be general taking in the whole scene, but not giving the features of the corpse.

 E. D. Townsend

Best

Barry
  
outreach@awesometalks.com 

 

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To see the entire series, click here “SUMMARY OF THE “DID YOU KNOW” ABRAHAM LINCOLN SERIES (Parts 1-15)”         

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If you are interested in Abraham Lincoln, you should read these interviews by three Lincoln experts:

 

“An Awesometalk With” ROGER NORTON, Webmaster of the ‘Abraham Lincoln Research Site’ (posted on December 30, 2008)

.

“An Awesometalk With” DR. THOMAS SCHWARTZ, Illinois State Historian (posted on December 08, 2008)

 

“An Awesometalk With” HAROLD HOLZER, Lincoln Scholar (posted on November 10, 2008)

 

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