“AN AWESOMETALK WITH” 2008-2009 INTERVIEW LINKS

March 4, 2010: Barry Cauchon

Here is the list of the ten 2008-2009 “An Awesometalk With” interviews that I’ve conducted to date. If you never had a chance to read any of these, this would be a good time to catch up before the 2010 season is launched. Enjoy. Barry

1. An Awesometalk With HAROLD HOLZER, Lincoln Scholar (posted November 10, 2008)

https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2008/11/10/an-awesometalk-with-harold-holzer-lincoln-scholar/

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

https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2008/12/08/an-awesometalk-with-dr-thomas-schwartz-illinois-state-historian/

 3. An Awesometalk With ROBERT KRAUSS, 509th Composite Group Historian (posted December 16, 2008)

https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2008/12/16/an-awesometalk-with-robert-krauss-509th-composite-group-historian/

 4. An Awesometalk With ROGER NORTON, Webmaster of the Abraham Lincoln Research Site (posted December 30, 2008)

 https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2008/12/30/an-awesometalk-with-roger-norton-webmaster-of-the-abraham-lincoln-research-site/

5. An Awesometalk With LAURA FRANCES KEYES, Mary Todd Lincoln performer (posted January 26, 2009)

https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2009/01/26/an-awesometalk-with-laura-frances-keyes-mary-todd-lincoln-performer/

6. An Awesometalk With GEORGE HAUCK, WWII Veteran & Ex-Prisoner of  War (posted March 30, 2009)

https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2009/03/31/an-awesometalk-with-george-hauck-wwii-veteran-and-ex-prisoner-of-war/

7. An Awesometalk With ED ISAACS, Owner of Civil War Diary from Soldier Who Guarded the Lincoln Conspirators  (posted April 1o, 2009)

https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2009/04/10/an-awesometalk-with-ed-isaacs-owner-of-civil-war-diary-from-soldier-who-guarded-the-lincoln-conspirators/

 8. An Awesometalk With ANDREW JAMPOLER, author of “The Last Lincoln Conspirator: John Surratt’s Flight from the Gallows” (posted April 24, 2009)

https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2009/04/24/an-awesometalk-with-andrew-jampoler-author-and-ex-us-navy-commander/

 9. An Awesometalk With NIKAELA ZIMMERMAN, Kansas State Historical Society: Owners of the Lincoln Conspirators Gallows Crossbeam (posted June 24, 2009)

https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2009/06/24/an-awesometalk-with-nikaela-zimmerman-assistant-registrarconservation-technologist-kansas-state-historical-society/

 10. An Awesometalk With CHARLENE HENDERSON, The 17th Regiment CVI Gravesite Location Project (posted November 02, 2009)

https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2009/11/02/the-17th-regiment-cvi-gravesite-location-project/

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

 

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MR. P’s PHOTOGRAPH IS AN ORIGINAL!!!!

November 22, 2009: Barry Cauchon

Hi all: On Friday, November 19, I had the honor to Mr. Harold Holzer at his office in NYC. We have corresponded and spoken on the phone for over a year and it was great to finally meet him face-to-face. Although the main reason for our meeting is not the subject of this posting, we resolved a puzzle that has been on my mind for over a year. As some of my dedicated readers may remember, in August of 2008, I posted a photograph on my blog from a person I referred to as Mr. P. 

Mr. P. owns a photograph in a Victorian frame which he believed was one of Lincoln in death. I posted it on the blog asking anyone who might want to comment on it. In less than a week, I received an email from Harold Holzer stating that the photograph was not one of Lincoln in death. Instead it was an existing image considered to be a fake or spurious one. It had been previously published in books in the early 1960’s. And that was that. I published Mr. Holzer’s findings on August 21, 2008 and informed Mr. P. about the results.  But we still wondered about the Victorian framed photograph and how Mr. P’s family came to have this piece. Who was this man? What type of photographic process was used? Was it a printed copy or an original? We just didn’t know and didn’t dare open it without help.

We zip ahead to last week. A lot has changed in one year. Mr. P. is now one of my closest friends. I’ve partnered with John Elliott to be my writing partner and are moving ahead with our book and other projects. So we all meet in NYC and descend upon the office of Harold Holzer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. After our scheduled meeting with Mr. Holzer, Mr. P. brought out the photograph and we asked if Mr. Holzer would look at it. Since it was this photo that brought all of us together, we thought it was appropriate to have him be the one to look at it.

Yours truly, Abe, Harold Holzer and John Elliott

Yours truly, Abe, Harold Holzer and John Elliott

Upon inspection, Mr. Holzer opened the frame to expose the photograph. Once apart, we observed that the image was printed on a glass plate. Mr. Holzer indicated that it was an Ambrotype which was a photographic process used in the early 1800s. And as this was an Ambrotype it meant that the photograph was an original and not a reproduction. AMAZING! This photo, which has been published in numerous Lincoln books, is the original Ambrotype from which these reproduced photos were made.

We were all very excited about the confirmation. Thank you Mr. Holzer for a great meeting and the photographic identification. So even though the image is not that of Abraham Lincoln in death and is considered a fake, at least now we know that Mr. P. owns the original fake.

By the way, Mr. P. indicates that bidding can begin at $2,000,000.    : )

Below is part of the original article that was written over a year ago that started this whole train moving down the track.

HAROLD HOLZER COMMENTS ON “LINCOLN IN DEATH” PICTURES

August 21, 2008 – Barry Cauchon:

Hi all: My blog has had a flurry of activity recently concerning several articles that I had posted on questionable Lincoln Photos in Death. I was honored to be contacted by Mr. Harold Holzer, the Senior Vice President, External Affairs from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. Mr. Holzer is an historian and author, considered to be one of the leading Lincoln scholars in the world and he graciously offered to comment on the photos I have been debating here.

2. MR. P’s PHOTOGRAPH

This is the first time we are publishing this photograph here. We were going to wait until September 3, 2008 however the review by Mr. Holzer allows us to post it now.

Metal plate photo in hinged frame

Mr. P's photo in hinged frame

Close up of the picture 

 Close up of face.

Close up of beard Close up of beard
Close up of hands Close up of hands
RESOLVE: Mr. Holzer reviewed these images on Tuesday, August 19 and expressed the following observations:
  • The beard is too full (as previously mentioned above)
  • “Why would Secretary of War Stanton have allowed a photographer to make this intrusive shot when he confiscated the picture of Lincoln all dressed up and lying in state in NY City hall?”
  • The arms and chest are too narrow. When the doctors removed Lincoln’s shirt after he was shot, they notice his chest and arms were very muscular. He was ‘ripped’. The body in these photos is not.
  • Is this a Daguerreotype? “Unlikely, as it would be just way out of fashion by 1865 and too hard to take in a room with no lighting.”

All of these were valid points, but the best was still to come!

  • The photo is not a new image. Mr. Holzer pointed out that he had seen it before in Charles Hamilton and Lloyd Ostendorf’s 1963 book, “Lincoln in Photographs: An Album of Every Known Pose”, 1st edition, on page 294. Mr. Holzer stated, “It seems to me they are one and the same shot with the alleged deathbed photo Lloyd Ostendorf and Charles Hamilton published as a spurious image in their 1963 “Lincoln in Photographs,” p 294.  I don’t disagree with their conclusions—the beard is simply wrong.  Lincoln may have had a sort of full beard for his February 1865 life mask, but as the March inaugural photos and the Henry Warren photos show the next day (not to mention the known photo of Lincoln in his coffin), his beard had been considerably trimmed down by the spring of that year”.  
  • END

After conversing with Mr. Holzer on several points for clarification, I was able to find the same photo (although reversed) in another book call “Twenty Days” by Dorthy Meserve Kunhardt & Philip Kunhardt, Jr., Harper & Rowe Publishers, NY, 1965 (see photo and link below). It looks like the exact same photo!

Identical photo (in reverse) from book "Twenty Days" by Dorthy Meserve Kunhardt and Philip Kunhardt, Jr. 

 Identical photo (in reverse) from book “Twenty Days” by Dorthy Meserve Kunhardt.

http://news.webshots.com/photo/1003168559000142258BBKqRGIYne
 
CONCLUSION: The image is unlikely that of Mr. Lincoln based on the information presented here. But it does raise several questions about who it really is and the origin of the image itself.

QUESTIONS: Some of the questions raised are as follows:

  • Assuming that Mr. P. has an original Daguerreotype or tintype of this image, how did it end up in several books in the 1960s? Mr. P. found the photograph in a desk that his grandmother left to him when she died. This was about 25 years ago. The printed images have been in the public eye for at least 45 years!
  • Does Mr. P. have the original or is it a copy?
  • Was there more than one image made of the body at the time the photograph was shot?
  • Who is the man? Could it be one of Mr. P’s relatives? Mr. Holzer believes that the photo could be from the 1840s or 50s.
  • Where did Charles Hamilton and Lloyd Ostendorf get the original photo for their book?
  • What is the history of the picture?

FOLLOW UP: Mr. P is not disappointed that his photo was not Mr. Lincoln. He is actually thrilled that he owns a genuine ‘fake’ now. And it has given him a new area of research to investigate. History can be exciting, even if it isn’t on the ‘main stage’. Keep hunting Mr. P!

THANK YOU: Finally, I want to personally thank Mr. Harold Holzer for his time and efforts in helping me assist Mr. P  in this project. As well, I’d like to also thank Kevin O. Johnson, Ph.D in Dallas, Christy and Tins (pardijoe) for offering their comments, direction and assistance in solving the puzzle as well. Many many many thanks to all of you.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

Protected: TREASURES IN THE ATTIC (No 1) – Lincoln in Death Photo

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“An Awesometalk With” Ed Isaacs, Owner of Civil War Diary from Soldier Who Guarded the Lincoln Conspirators

April 10, 2009: Barry Cauchon

Ed Isaacs holds the diary of his great great grandfather George E. Dixon.

Life has a way of blessing you when you least expect it. Call it karma, good luck or maybe even a genuine intervention by a higher power. I personally believe that things happen for a reason and so when this story began about two weeks ago, I can say that I was blessed again. A kind and humble gentleman by the name of Ed Isaacs, a retired fire fighter from Norwalk, Connecticut wrote to me saying that he had just come into possession of the diary of his great great grandfather, George E. Dixon. George was a Civil War sergeant in Company C of the 14th Regiment Veterans Corp; the regiment that was assigned to guard, and eventually take part in the executions of several of the Lincoln assassination conspirators in 1865. This was extremely exciting news for me as this is the focus of my current research.

Once Ed shared some of the contents of the diary with me, I knew I was seeing something that was never before on the public record.

The diary is the first known document found to list the names of the guards and their duties guarding the prisoners. It also adds another perspective to the story. It’s a first hand account, documented in the handwriting of the man who was actually there and participated in this famous historic event.

From a researcher’s point of view, George E. Dixon’s diary is a great find. And as you’ll read, Ed Isaacs’ efforts to share this as well as honor the members in his family tree are genuinely uplifting. I am happy and honored to share this story with you on his behalf. Enjoy.

Barry 

——————————————————- 

B.Hey Ed. How are you? 

 

E. I’m good and ready to go! 

 

B.(laughing) Alright then, let me start by asking you where you live and what did you do for a living before you were retired?

E. The answer to that is I live in Norwalk, Connecticut. I just recently retired on Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17th of this year from the Norwalk Fire Department with nearly 32 years on the job.

B.Wow. 

E. Yup. It was a good career. I took good care of my family with that.

B. Let me ask you about two associations that you are affiliated with. You are a member of The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and a member and past president of The Sons of the American Revolution.

E. Yes I am.

B.What are those organizations and how do they serve their members?

E. These are hereditary societies whose missions are to preserve the ideals our forefathers fought for during the Civil War and the American Revolution. I was the past president of The Roger Sherman Branch, Connecticut Society Sons of the American Revolution. I had three ancestors that were in the Revolutionary War and they were Amos Dixon, John Saunders and Samuel Brown Isaacs. And then I became a member of The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and my ancestors there of course were George E. Dixon and Edwin Lorenzo Tuttle who fought in the 5th Regiment Connecticut Volunteers and then he reenlisted into the 17th.

B.And the reason we are talking here today is because of your great great grandfather, George E. Dixon.  

 

Sergeant George E. Dixon.

Sergeant George E. Dixon wearing his medals which can be seen later in this article.

 

You contacted me by email back on March 23 and I’d like to read a portion of that note now.

“I recently acquired a diary that was my great-great grandfather’s. His name was George E. Dixon from Poundridge, NY. During the Civil War he was stationed in Washington, D.C. This is what his diary says,  

May 16, 1865: On guard at the old penitentiary over the Booth party conspirators.
I was in the court room during the day while the witness’s were being examined. I saw the bullet that killed the President, also the pistol and two carbines. Booth’s photograph and the boot that was cut open to take it from his broken leg by Dr. Mudd.

 July 7, 1865: On guard at the penitentiary. The execution of Surratt, Payne, Atzerodt + Herold.

 I hope you find this interesting”.

Well Ed (laughing) the first thing that I thought to myself was ‘DAH! Of course I’d find this interesting”. For me, this is great stuff. This is sort of what I specialize in and so I was dying to talk to you and I’m glad that we now have a rapport and are talking more and more about this.

E. And for me it was very interesting because I wasn’t really aware of any of that history. Maybe I mentioned that I have his obituary, “Civil War Veteran Claimed by Death”. Commenting on the execution, of which he was an eyewitness, he says in his diary,

 “The first two, having fainted, were carried to the gallows by the guards: the latter two walked calmly up and put their heads in the nooses.”

So of course, when I eventually got the diary this is what I expected to see. I’ve never seen this line in here yet! So, it could have been hearsay from his wife or a child. But the information I did find was pretty fantastic.

B.So that quote is actually not in the diary from what you can find so far! 

E. I have not found that quote. Nope. 

B.George lived to be quite old. And two things I’ll ask you to explain to everyone are ‘Who was George Dixon’ and ‘what was his history’?

E. George E. Dixon was 90 years old when he passed away. He was a Civil War Veteran who resided in Pound Ridge, New York. He was well known to the people of Stamford. He was the driver for an old mail and passenger stagecoach line for many years. He was born in Pound Ridge on December 2, 1834.

 

George E. Dixon's business card.

George E. Dixon's business card.

He attended the schools of that district. And on April 4, 1859, he married Sarah E. Birdsall, a native of Pound Ridge. After the Civil War broke out, he volunteered for the service of his country, joining the 6th Regiment New York Heavy Artillery. He was mustered in at Yonkers, and went to a training camp for three months. 

B.[NOTE: At this point in the interview I interrupted Ed with another question and we never got back to George E. Dixon’s history, so here is the rest of it before we pick up the interview again].

His military service states:

 He enlisted as a Private in the 172nd Infantry Regiment New York on September 6, 1862, at the age of 27. He was transferred into Company M, 6th Regiment New York Heavy Artillery on December 4, 1862. He was transferred on January 26, 1864 from Company M to Company A. He was wounded on June 20, 1864 at Petersburg, Virginia. He was transferred to Company M, 6th Regiment New York Heavy Artillery on January 19, 1865 and then transferred to Company C, 14th Regiment Veterans Reserve Corps January 19, 1865. On July 7, 1865, he was appointed Sergeant in Company C of the 14th Regiment of Veteran Reserve Corps to rank as such from the 1st day of July 1865. During the war, he was twice wounded in action and fought in the following battles: Manassas Gap, Mire Run, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Harris House, North Anna River, Totopopomoy, Cold Harbor, and Bethesda Church. In this last battle, he was wounded when the handle of a musket was shot off and later, at Petersburg, he was shot in the right arm. He was honorably discharge July 31, 1865. Just prior to his discharge, he was present to witness first hand, a chronicle of American History. During his final service in Washington, DC, he served as sergeant of the guard at the penitentiary in Washington where the persons implicated in the death of President Abraham Lincoln were kept and later was in charge of the guards at the execution of Mary Surratt, Lewis Payne, George Atzerodt, and David Herold, who were involved in the assassination plot.

 Following the war, he returned to Pound Ridge where in 1868, he was given a contract of carrying mail between Stamford and Pound Ridge; a position which he held for 22 years. At first, he only carried the mail three times a week but, later, the number of trips was increased to six. When the rural routes were instituted, he continued carrying freight and passengers until 1916.

Ninety-year old George E. Dixon died on March 16, 1925; just 19 days shy of his 66th wedding anniversary (April 4, 1925). He was one of the oldest members of the Charles A. Hobbie Post #23 of the Grand Army of the Republic located in Stamford. At the time of his death, he was survived by four children – Charles L. of New York City, Mrs. Ada Isaacs of New Canaan, Myron A. of Stamford, and Wilbur of New Canaan: his wife, Sarah E., and 14 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren.

——————————————– 

George and Sarah Birdsall Dixon on their 65th wedding anniversary.

George and Sarah Birdsall Dixon on their 65th wedding anniversary.

B. You sent me two pictures of George, one of him and his wife and the other being a family portrait. I guess these are both from their 65th wedding anniversary on April 4, 1924. Is that correct?

[Note: Just last Saturday, April 4, 2009 would have marked George and Sarah’s 150th wedding anniversary].

E. That’s correct. At their home which we referred to as “Charter Oak Place”. 

B.In the family photo, is there somebody there that you are directly related too? 

George and Sarah and their family on their 65th wedding anniversary

George and Sarah and their family on their 65th wedding anniversary

E. The young couple right behind Sarah and George were my grandparents. The young gentleman is Clarence Isaacs and his wife Muriel. It is very sad how things go because that picture was taken in April, 1924 and my father had just been born in February of that year. My grandmother, Muriel  died the following year at only 21 years old. My grandfather Clarence died at 30 years old in 1927. So they didn’t have a great long life, yet Clarence’s mother Ada, who’s standing right next to him, lived to 96 years old. That’s Ada Dixon Isaacs, my great grandmother.  

Muriel Isaacs, Clarence Isaacs and Ada Dixon

Muriel Isaacs, Clarence Isaacs and Ada Dixon

 

B.Well…I’d love to say that …

E. …you don’t know what tree you’re going to be in. Right!

B.Exactly (laughing).

E. Yup.

B.When did you first get interested in your great great grandfather? I know you have some items of his as well as his diary.

E. Well first, the items that I have, I didn’t have to worry about collecting, outside of the diary, because the items were already here. My father was a great collector. In my family, we save everything. I’vegot a bible from Samuel Brown Isaacs who was in the Revolutionary War and I’ve got a powder horn from Amos Dixon.

But the question is always asked “When did I get interested in it”? Like a lot of people would say “When your parent dies”. My dad was very interested in our family history. And of course when I lost him in 1990, I’d always remember as a young kid when I was 10, 12, 14 years old, the many weekends we would spend going to a cemetery, a library, a town hall or somewhere always looking for facts on family. And that’s what we did. And of course as I came up on sixteen years old, I’m looking at my watch saying “Dad, I got a date. I gotta get out of here”. I didn’t show as much interest then. But when I lost him it became one of the most important things in my life. Honoring my ancestors is honoring my father, Howard R. Isaacs.

 My family has a lot of history in this area.  Ralph Isaacs and Mary Rumsey Isaacs settled in Norwalk in 1725.  My family has not moved more than 20 miles in 284 years.

B.What are some of the items that you obtained from your father?

E. I have George E. Dixon’s certificate promoting him to Sergeant. I’ve got his pension paper. I’ve got original news articles about George and Sarah’s 65th wedding anniversary and of course the article on his death. I’ve got many photos including George with family members in front of his home “Charter Oak Place”. I’ve got a medal given to him for serving in the 6th Regt. New York Heavy Artillery, Army of the Potomac and his GAR [Grand Army of the Republic] medal. And now I have his diary!

 

 

George Dixon's Army of the Potomac and GAR medals

George Dixon's New York Volunteers Heavy Artillery Army of the Potomac and GAR medals

 

B.Well, let’s talk about the diary then (laughing)!

When you contacted me on March 23 you had only just received it a few days before on March 18, so you haven’t had it that long.

E. When it arrived at my house in the envelope I did not open it. I needed to relax in anticipation of what I would discover. I just put it downstairs in a safe place until Sunday the 22nd and that was the first time I opened it. I was just so relieved.

B.How long have you known of its existence?

E. I didn’t know if it still existed. All I had was just a copy of his obituary that said “…in his diary” and that one quote that I haven’t been able to find. But I didn’t know where that diary could be. So really, the story of how I got it is very interesting.

B.I’m sure. Can you tell us?

E. Before I retired, I was looking at family members’ histories and went on Ancestory.com. I started loading the names of different family members that I had, on it. I looked at photographs of George and Sarah and the extended family. One of my parents had put the names of the different family members on the back of the photos. So I just started looking at the different names and I found one, that was Floyd E. Dixon. I put Floyd E. Dixon into my family tree just looking to see who else would be searching for this particular Dixon and I found one that matched exactly. And then of course, I made a phone call to Maine to Pamila Dixon Tift and said, “Hi, I’m your cousin”. I started sending her a lot of information about our great great grandfather.  When I sent her a copy of George’s obituary talking about his diary, she called me back and said she had that diary.

B.(laughing).

E. Needless to say, I nearly fell out of my chair here. But I had to keep my wits about me. Through many emails and conversations over the next week or so I let her know that since I had everything else of his, and I’m only minutes from Pound Ridge where he lived; and I visited the home where he lived many times… that the diary needed to be here. I was very fortunate that she agreed with me.  

If anything else was interesting, she told me that she put it in the mail on March 16th and just by coincidence, I looked at his obituary again that night and noticed that March 16, 1925 was when he died. So everything has a meaning.

 

 

The Dixon gravestone.

The resting place of George E. Dixon, Sarah Dixon and Ada Isaacs.

B.Yeah for sure! What an amazing story. It sounds like coincidence but perhaps it’s not. It goes deeper than that and was meant to be in your hands.

E. That’s exactly right.

B.When you first opened the diary did you focus on any one page after you looked through it?

E. The main one for me was of course the page we just talked about where he was an eyewitness in the courtroom when the witnesses were being examined. That one, and the other page that’s seems to be the one getting us all really excited, page 27, with the names of the guards and executioners. I didn’t have a clue what anything on this page meant, so I contacted you.

 

 

Page 27 from the Dixon diary.

Page 27 from the Dixon diary.

  

B.At first, when you sent me a photo of the page, we were debating whether the list of names was of guards or prisoners. Well it turned out that it was a list of guards from the 14th Regiment Veterans Corp.

 

A list of men from the 14th Regiment and the schedule of cells they were assigned to guard.

A list of men from the 14th Regiment and the schedule of cells they were assigned to guard.

 

But the names that really jumped out at me were the four at the bottom of the page [#15, 16, 17 & 18]. And those were the names of the four guards that stood under the scaffold and who were responsible for knocking the props out, or springing the traps.

 

Although spelt incorrectly, the names of the four soldiers who sprung the traps at the conspirator executions are

Although some of the names are spelt incorrectly, the names of the four soldiers who sprung the traps at the conspirator executions are in Dixon's list: William Coxshall, Joseph Haslett, George F. Taylor and Daniel F. Shoupe (Shoup).

[Ed later pointed out that on this same page George notes this very fact when he writes “The last four numbers were executioners. Sergt. G. E. Dixon, Co. C, 14th Reg”.]

  

 

The note that George penned indentifying the four men that sprung the traps at the execution.

The note that George penned indentifying the four men that sprung the traps at the execution.

I guess as we’ve talked a little bit further it sounded like George, at the time being a Sergeant, perhaps was in charge of scheduling some of his men to guard the prisoners, hence his list of guards names.

 

 

 

 

 

 

E. These names didn’t mean anything to me because even though I have my family here that I honor very much, I didn’t follow the history as much as I should. But now I’ve started looking into it more. As you know I’ve bought the book “American Brutus” by Michael Kauffman and I have just bought “The Trial” by Ed Steers Jr. That’s just about twice as many books as I’ve probably ever read in my life.

B.(laughing) Well the two authors you mentioned are both excellent in this field. The field of the assassination.

E. Oh yes. It’s very exciting.

B.On your behalf, I did approach some of these gentlemen who I correspond with and respect highly. And right off the bat we had a really good response from Michael Kauffman. I think his first response to me, before I passed it on to you, was “WOW”! So it really meant something to him as it related to his own research. I know that he is now working with you to further discover what other information is to be found in that list as well as in the other pages of the diary.

Michael is definitely excited about the project. I have had responses from other Lincoln experts. Some are quite busy right now. But eventually these folks will get back to you as their schedules free up.

E. I know for sure that this has to be exciting for some of them just like when you contacted me. If someone is going to give you his cell phone number you know that they are interested. To get the home phone number from Michael Kauffman or to hear from Laurie Verge, I mean that is very exciting and I’m very honored for George E. Dixon. I really am!

B.Laurie Verge is the Director of the Surratt House Museum and Surratt Society. She is quite interested in collecting whatever information she can on George, putting it into their files, so any future researchers have an opportunity to explore him and see how his life relates to perhaps the research that they are doing. It’s an exciting time, Ed!

E. It really is. When I retired on March 17, officially after the 18th, I wondered what I was going to do other than feet hitting the floor in the morning and going to get a cup of coffee. I’m still not that old but I plan on doing something down the road. But to have this happen, there isn’t a day right now where I don’t have something to do. I’m doing a newspaper interview tomorrow in George’s hometown of Pound Ridge at 10:00 o’clock. It’s all about honoring George and it’s a great thing. I’m really enjoying it.

B.Do you have children Ed?

E. I have a 19-1/2 year old daughter Emily and my son will be 18 in June and that is Christopher.

B.Do they find interest in this or are they sort of like how you were back when? They have their own life right now!

E. Just like me! (laughing).

B.(Laughing)

E. My wife is very good with this. She understands that not everyone is into this when you are a teenager. But everything is going to be put away safely and catalogued somehow so they’ll have things to look at and be proud of when they do show interest. My son is also a member of The Sons of the American Revolution. And in December of this past year I got my daughter into The Daughters of the American Revolution. So they are good to go. It is just a matter of what they want to do with their lives and their time. But they are good to go.

B.What’s your hope for yourself now that you are retired?

E. Now that I have the Dixon diary, I can see my first book. I can see myself going on some talking tours. Maybe do some schools. It would be very interesting once I figure out everything. It’s nice to say that you’ve got something but you want to make sure that you know what you are talking about. If I can put something together, I would enjoy it. I really would. It’s a nice thing and so many people are interested in the Civil War and of course the assassination of Lincoln. It’s a lot to go over. It really is a lot. 

B.Well it’s a great part of our history and the Dixon clan has been a part of it for decades, for centuries. And you must carry on the tradition.

E. Exactly. There you go.

B.Well Ed, this has been great. And you and I will obviously be talking well beyond this interview. I think there is a lot more to look into and as we start to pick it apart and figure out which way to go, I’m glad you’re taking me for the ride.

E. I feel I’m honored to have you ask me these questions. I’m very excited. And as I’m sitting here looking at my computer now I see this picture of Harold Holzer, the eminent Lincoln scholar and Civil War expert. And thinking that you’re interviewing me, and you’ve interviewed him and some of these other guests, I’ve got some pretty big shoes to fill.

B.(laughing).

E. I’m floating on a cloud right now.

B.I have to thank Harold because he was my first interview. He actually contacted me when I was searching out some information for another gentleman who had written me. He is a gracious man and always very generous with his time, and I will always be grateful to him for that. 

E. You have a great website. And of course as you already know, the short article that you put on there about me yesterday, I’ve already sent out to many of my friends (laughing).

B.Ah yes…the TEASER!!! (laughing).

E. You’ve got a lot more followers now, I tell you!

B.Thank you. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you Ed.

E. Again, I’m just very excited and very honored.

B.You’re a good man Ed and I’ve enjoyed learning about you, your family and George E. Dixon. Thanks again.

E. Thank you.

END

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

“An Awesometalk With” HAROLD HOLZER, Lincoln Scholar

November 10, 2008: Barry Cauchon

Hi all: I start a brand new feature on “A Little Touch of History” today. I have begun interviewing prominent people in their fields of expertise and my first guest was Harold Holzer, Lincoln scholar, who has assisted me on this blogs several times. The interview took place on November 4 – Election Day. I hope you enjoy our chat. Barry

  perdue-hi-resi

“AN AWESOMETALK WITH” Harold Holzer, eminent Lincoln Scholar and Civil War expert.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008, 2:30p.m Duration: 36 minutes.

 

BC: Today I start a new feature on ‘A Little Touch of History’ called “An Awesometalk with”.

It’s my honor to introduce my very first guest, Mr. Harold Holzer, eminent Lincoln scholar and Civil War expert.

Mr. Holzer has authored, co-authored or edited over 31 books, written over 400 articles and participated frequently in various media events and lectures.

He is the Senior Vice President, External Affairs with The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Co-Chairman of the United States Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.

On several occasions Mr. Holzer has generously shared his expertise with me to help ensure that the information presented here, in my blog, is accurate.

I want to thank Mr. Holzer for his kindness and welcome him to ‘A Little Touch of History’. Welcome Mr. Holzer.

HH: Thank you. It’s great to be with you. You’ve exhausted me just reading those credits. But now I know why I’m so tired.

BC: I’m sure (laughing). It’s kind of ironic that this is the first day we get a chance to talk live, although we have corresponded in the past, this being November 4th, Election Day. And that leads me into my first question. It’s been a long campaign for the candidates running for this presidency. How do you compare this campaign to the one that lead up to the election of President Lincoln in 1860?

HH: Well you’ve certainly touched on the more obvious of the first point, which is that the 1860 campaign, and all the campaigns in that era, was mercifully shorter.  If you include the ‘run-up’, as they call it today, Lincoln gave some speeches in November of 1859 and then was elected a year later. But the interesting thing, and the big difference is that, after his Cooper Union speech in New York City in February of 1860 (arguably the speech that propelled him into position to be a contender for the nomination), he said nothing. He did nothing. He traveled nowhere. He stayed at home. So did two of the other three candidates for President. The only one who traveled was Stephen Douglas and he was mocked and taunted for doing that because it was not considered appropriate.

So it was certainly a noisy campaign. It was filled with activity. But the candidates, basically, were not part of all that frenzied activity. It was all surrogates.

 

BC: Once Lincoln won his election, it was that period between then and the inauguration, that a lot of very interesting reactions to that election took place. And it was pretty well the foundation for the Civil War that was to follow shortly.

You’ve just released a book “Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860 -1861”, which covers the turbulent months between the election and that inauguration. Can you tell us a little bit about your book and how President-Elect Lincoln handled himself during that crisis?

 

HH: Um yeah, I can tell you a lot!

 

BC: (Laughing)

 

HH: The harder way is to tell you a little (laughing).

Let me start by saying that it was a four month transition. My argument in this book is two fold. First I argue that his actions as President-Elect have not been fully appreciated, that if he had not preserved the integrity of the Presidency he wouldn’t have been President. He might not have ever been inaugurated. He took enormous precautions about his own safety, about political fairness, about creating the right kind of cabinet, about writing the right kind of inaugural address and also about being quiet when too much noise might have upset the precarious balance that was holding things together in the North, not just the South.

 

So I could have written a book that listed all of the challenges that he had in sections. In other words, I could have listed cabinet selection, inaugural address, the trip to Washington, political pressures, patronage appointments. But if I had done it that way it wouldn’t have given a fair or an accurate view of what Lincoln’s life was like, and really what the national life was like in that period. And it was turbulent. All of these things were happening at once. All of these challenges were hitting at once. And every day of his secession winter he face appointments, cabinet problems, writing correspondences whether to speak or not to speak, where to go, and also all the little personal things that happened. So I just put them together, day by day practically. And I think it gives a real portrait.

 

I can say that there was a critic who, otherwise wrote a very nice review of the book in the Washington Post, said that I had sort of spoiled things for her because she had long believed in the notion that Lincoln grew in office and became great as the challenges got greater. And I’ve ruined it by showing that he was great earlier. So I apologize, but that’s sort of the way it is.

 

BC: I think that’s a very good point, because he showed, prior to his running for President, a certain strength. But it does sound like in that particular secession winter he really came into his own!

 

HH: I think so. And I think it’s been read the wrong way by previous historians. They all thought that it was a period when he didn’t understand what was going on and he had to get there to “get it”. He made a commitment not to allow slavery to be perpetual and to expand, and he stuck to his guns, as far away as he was from the action. You know for every month he would have not done it he would have delayed real freedom and inequality in America by another ten years. So, I dare say Barack Obama would not have been a presidential candidate in 2008 if Abraham Lincoln had made the wrong moves in 1860 & 61.

 

BC: Just a quick sidebar Mr. Holzer. Were party politics as strong back then? Did the President really have power or did he have to follow party lines?

 

HH: I think party politics were even stronger!

Every city had a Republican newspaper and a Democrat newspaper. You could count on your party to back you even if you were ridiculous. And the other people would oppose you no matter how sensible you were. I think he worried about congressional alignment, about whether he would get his cabinet nominees ratified. And it was very partisan. I know that both candidates for President this time around talked a great deal about ending partisanship. Well you know it’s much better today then it was then, much calmer and much more open. I think we don’t appreciate how non-partisan we are in many ways.

 

BC: I noticed that your website lists the various locations you appear at and that you have a pretty strenuous tour schedule. Between book signings, book tours, lecturing on numerous Civil War and Lincoln events, and obviously giving TV, radio and blog (thank you very much) interviews, where do you find time to balance your life between these and all your other commitments?

 

HH: Ah, I have no idea how I do it. I mean I just survived the first couple of weeks here with Atlanta and Demoine and Springfield. And it’s really going to start with intensity now but fortunately the next week is all in New York City. I have four different talks next week.

I don’t know. I really love it. So I guess I absorb energy from the appearances and the book signings and the talks. And I guess I’m a little bit of a ham, so that helps. But I do have other things. I mean I have a full time job and I do take that very seriously. And I have a wonderful support staff here that helps the museum to continue its growth and its outreach to people from around the block and around the world. And I have a new grandson, so that’s pretty important too.

 

BC: Oh congratulations!

 

HH: You know it’s not that new. He’s 13 months.

 

BC: I have two step-grandchildren of my own and they’re an absolute blast!

 

HH: Oh it is just the greatest. It’s just as great as everybody said and that’s why the book is dedicated to him and to my late father for whom he is named. So, this young man has three books named for him in one season.

 

BC: (Laughing) Later this month, November 19th, the nation is going to celebrate the 145th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.

 

HH: Right!

 

BC: And I understand that you’re going to be in Gettysburg, if I remember your schedule correctly, November 16th through the 19th!

 

HH: Right!

 

BC: And are you doing any public appearances or book signings during that time?

 

HH: Yes. The first thing I’m doing is the annual Lincoln Forum which is an event that meets every year. It’s the 13th anniversary. People register and pay out a registration fee. We have about ten scholars coming to give talks. So I am going to talk there. But I am also speaking at the Gettysburg Cemetery at the November 19 event. We’re unveiling the Lincoln Commemorative Coin on that day, which people will be able to buy and collect. And the revenue from which will support Lincoln activities in years to come. Also we’ll be doing a book signing. A few of my colleagues and I, who have written new books, will be doing a book signing at the new Gettysburg Visitor Center at around 2:00 pm on the 18th of November. So it’s going to be a busy time.

I may take a little detour to do something in Washington during the whole thing so…

 

BC: Something personally just for yourself (laughing)?

 

HH: More to come. I can’t talk about it much right now. Stay tuned!

 

BC: Stay tuned (laughing)!

The Gettysburg Visitor Center is a gorgeous place.

 

HH: I know. I’ve seen it. It’s really beautiful. And I love a book store that’s filled with people. So that’s what I love about it most, is that it’s filled with people who love to buy books about Lincoln and the Civil War.

 

BC: I was one of those people! I stood in a long line-up that day to buy my books. But it was worth it.

 

Another major event coming up in 2009 is obviously the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. And as I mentioned earlier, you are the Co-Chairman of the United States Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.

 

HH: Correct.

 

BC: Can you highlight some of the national activities that are planned for next year and share them with us?

 

HH: I can! I think what I’ll concentrate on is February 12, Lincoln’s actual birthday. There are going to be big events in Washington such as the rededication of the Lincoln Memorial in the morning. There’s going to be a joint session of Congress. There will be the opening of a huge exhibition on Lincoln at the Library of Congress. Meanwhile there’ll be exhibitions at The National Portrait Gallery and the new Smithsonian of American History. That would already have opened. The night before the 12th, Ford’s Theatre will reopen with a special concert and a dinner and the opening of the Ford’s Theatre Museum. The Soldiers’ Home, where Lincoln had his summer White House, is going to unveil a Lincoln statue. Now that’s all in Washington. Things will be happening in other cities and anyone who wants to know more about what’s happening needs only go on www.lincoln200.gov and get the full schedule. There’s a lot going on.


BC: Terrific. Thank you. Regarding a couple of locations you mentioned, the Smithsonian and Ford’s Theatre, I’ve had some indirect advance looks at those exhibits and they are awesome.

 

HH: Yeah, they’re going to be great!


BC: I cannot wait to get back down there and see them when they’re open.

One thing with the Bicentennial approaching, there’s an overwhelming choice of books that will be coming out this year and next. I can’t even guess how many new books are coming out.

 

HH: We think there are going to be about 30 between the fall season that began about a month ago and the end of ‘09.

 

BC: And overall, would there be about a 1000 books that have been written over the years?

 

HH: Oh, maybe 10,000…

 

BC: Oh really! Wow!


HH: If you include pamphlets. Yeah.

 

BC: Well I’m looking to help your average student, who either wants to begin, or further their education, on the 16th President of the Unite States. Are there any books that you could recommend that are more beginner level?

 

HH: Certainly, every book I’ve ever written would be great! (Laughing)

 

BC: (Laughing) Oh good!

 

HH:  “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin was really wonderful. “Lincoln” by David Herbert Donald, for people who know about history and just want a good life with Lincoln. Those are two internally wonderful books. And then for people who know more about Lincoln already, there are some among this group of new books, (such as) “Lincoln and His Admirals” by Craig Symonds, “Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief” by James McPherson. There’s a book about Frederick Douglass. There’s a new book about Lincoln and Charles Darwin. There’s a second book coming about Lincoln and Darwin. There’s a book about Lincoln and Robert Burns. So you can go from very general to very specific very easily. All the good writers are coming out with Lincoln books this year. I have four of them coming out between now and next fall. So you have to be in this market. You can’t just wait. So I decided to plunge in.

 

BC: I know the timing couldn’t be better.

 

HH: Yeah.

 

BC: I’m very anxious to get my hands on as many as possible.

 

HH: Good luck. It’s not a great economic time to be buying them all, but I guess it’s worth it because the literature is so great.

 

BC: During your career you’ve been honored with many awards and appointments, and have met and worked with famous politicians and statesmen. Would you describe one or two instances that really stood out as special for you?

 

HH: Sure. I guess I’ll address the political side, as opposed to the show business side, which I also love. I have a real weakness for that I must say. I’m a real fan.

 

I think the two are from 12-13 years ago. <The first being when> Mario Cuomo and I published our book “Lincoln on Democracy”. It had been inspired originally by a delegation of teachers from the Solidarity Union of Poland who had come to visit Governor Cuomo. They said to him that they really needed books now that their country was escaping from the constraints of the Iron Curtain and becoming free and independent. Cuomo suggested that they study Lincoln, and they said that they had no Lincoln, that the Communists and the Nazis, between the two of them, had removed all of the Lincoln. So he said he would get a book together and that’s when we wrote our book “Lincoln on Democracy”. And we got Lincoln scholars around the country to contribute and to suggest great letters and writings by Lincoln. And it was translated into Polish and Japanese and Hebrew and Indonesian and of course came out in an English language edition.

The most memorable political, diplomatic event was when Lech Walesa came from Poland to receive the first Polish language copy. That was a pretty unforgettable day. The man who had helped liberate the country and who had wanted Lincoln on the bookshelves.

 

And then I guess the other, to be completely non-partisan, was when President Bush invited Sam Waterston and me, to deliver our “Abraham Lincoln: Scene and Heard” program in the East Room of the Whitehouse. That was pretty thrilling, I must say. We had done it for the first President Bush and we were invited to do it for President Clinton as well but President Clinton was busy campaigning for Hillary. So we did it to a full auditorium but with only President Clinton on the phone.

 

BC: I think those are both really special stories.

 

HH: Oh yes.

 

BC: When we have an opportunity, I’d love to talk to you more about the Polish story.

 

HH: Oh sure. That’s now lost to the mist of memory ‘cause we didn’t record things the way we do now in those days. But anyone who wants to see the East Room thing from a couple of February’s ago, or I guess it’s more like three now, you can get them on C-Span’s website. It’s in the C-Span archives and you can buy a DVD from C-Span and see the President and us and see that whole program.

 

BC: Excellent. Are there any historical figures or events that you are personally interest in outside your field of specialty?

 

HH: Oh yeah! I read a lot about FDR and Churchill. I was actually inspired to do “President-Elect” by reading a book by a friend of mine, Jonathan Alder, on Roosevelt’s pre-presidential period and his first hundred days as President. He described how he wouldn’t cooperate with Herbert Hoover and it sort of inspired me to start looking into Lincoln again. So, I can thank FDR for Lincoln just as FDR turned to Lincoln, I turned to FDR.


BC: (Laughing)

 

HH: I used to read everything about John F. Kennedy. You know I was 11 years old when he was elected. I was enormously interested in politics because of him, and in government. And of course his death broke our hearts. And when it was over I read. I got all the picture books and the Life Magazine books and the Sorenson book and the Schlesenger book. And if I ever have time, I’d actually like to read the second wave of analysis of Kennedy.

 

BC: Do you think Kennedy’s assassination spawned what I’ll call an interest in historians to start looking back at Lincoln with fresh eyes because of their similar ending?

 

HH: You know it is…it is an interesting point I must say. I’ve never been asked that question before. It’s a really good question. It is interesting because it is almost ironic in a way, because Kennedy was very involved in planning the Civil War Centennial. When he got to be President, he found out that not much had been done to get the country ready to start celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Civil War. He got there on January 20th and the first event was supposed to be in April at Fort Sumter. And he really organized it. He fired the guy who was running it. He hired a new person. And ultimately, this person he hired had to find Lincoln’s catafalque for his coffin to rest on in the Capitol. So it came full circle.

 

But he was very interested in it. And of course, when he was killed, people published this laundry list of eerie similarities. You know, everything from the serious to the … both men were succeeded by a man named Johnson.

 

BC: Oh yes.

 

HH: Do you remember all those?

 

BC: Yes.

 

HH: Same number of letters in their names. One was killed in Ford’s Theatre, the other was killed in a Lincoln car which was made by Ford. I mean it just went on and on. One had it that Kennedy had a secretary named Mrs. Lincoln and of course they were elected a hundred years apart. So I think it did spur interest and it certainly spurred interest in the assassination idea.

 

BC: I think that’s where my interest in Lincoln arose. It started with Kennedy. I was living in Virginia at the time. I was only age five at the time of his death but…

 

HH: You could have not told me that you were younger (laughing)

 

BC: (Laughing)

 

HH: We could have gone through the whole interview and I could have just fantasized that you were old.

 

BC: (Laughing) Not by much. You know, I have great respect for my elders. So I…(laughing)

 

HH: I am having a big birthday this year so it’s a touchy subject. But it’s better to have it then not have it!

 

BC: On another personal note, what do you like to do in your spare time, if you have any? Do you have hobbies or interests?

 

HH: You know I guess playing with the baby is my big interest now, when I can. I like to go to the theater. I go to one opera a year but I used to like to do that. And I love baseball so I go to a few baseball games every year. I used to watch baseball games like an idiot, just sit there and watch them. I don’t do that anymore. I do other things. But I watch baseball while I’m writing. It’s a great sport to watch when you’re writing ‘cause you don’t have to watch it all the time and if something happens you can just look up and see the instant replay.

I have been watching 10 seasons of the Yankees without paying complete attention. And as an historian, I have to bid a sad farewell to the stadium this year. But that’s about it. As you say, I don’t have much time to do much of anything. But I do get to go to the theater.

One thing I’ve given up is the movies, which I regret, because I used to love going to the movies and now it’s so easy to see them on TV.

I love to read murder mysteries, British murder mysteries basically. And my wife and I try to watch one British murder mystery every weekend. You know some kind of thing that we get from the BBC catalogue or watch on one of the mystery channels or channel 13 mysteries. You know…PBS mysteries. That’s about completes my rather boring life.

 

BC: Well the grandson is…

 

HH: That’s the key!

Now if I can just complete everything to make him like Lincoln, the Yankees, and go to the theatre, then I’ll have the perfect grandson. But he’ll be perfect even if he hates them all.

 

BC: That’s true. But it can’t hurt to try some light handed influence.

 

HH: Exactly.

 

BC: (Laughing)

 

BC:  Now I’m going to take you way back for a second, when you were a high school student.

 

HH: Right.

 

BC: What was your experience with history at the high school level? And the reason I’m asking is…is there anything you can say to today’s students who really struggle with getting an interest in history?

 

HH: You know I have to say that I’m sorry about that. And I wish I was a better example of the right way to do it. I’m really not. I got brought into it by a 5th grade teacher. She inspired me to read. But I was never a really good listener in class. I don’t think you’d call it ADD but I was pretty bad in school. I wasn’t violent but I was, you know, the class clown kind of person. I think it was probably because I was younger than everybody in school having been advanced twice which was a big mistake socially, but not otherwise. And I never really conformed to what was expected of me, either in high school or in college. Otherwise, if I had realized that this is what I wanted to do, I probably would have gone onto the academy and worked in a college. But because I was such an unpredictable nutcase I wanted to do a lot of different things. I always wanted to work in television and I got to work in public television for six years. I always wanted to be in politics. Not to be the candidate, but to work in politics. And I got to work in a United States senate campaign, in mayoral campaigns, in congressional campaigns, and in gubernatorial campaigns and worked for a governor and a mayor. So I got that out of my system. Then to be asked to work at the Metropolitan Museum, the greatest cultural institution in the country, was the icing on the cake. And that’s been 16 years…during which time the Director and the President have encouraged me to lead my double life as a scholar as well.

So I’ve always been sort of on the outside looking in. And I guess I’m not a good person to advise people on listening in school, because I didn’t listen. I found it tedious and I wanted to read my own stuff. But I don’t think the teachers are making it any easier because the textbooks are not particularly appealing. You know, using the mass media, using DVDs, using the History Channel, it’s not a bad introduction. I think the academics ought to get off the high level snobbishness about that. Anyway we can get people interested, they’ll become readers eventually…

 

BC: I agree.

 

HH: …and better citizens as well. You know you don’t have to be a historian but it’s good to know your past because that’s the way you can trust the future.

 

BC: It’s interesting to me, especially when I relate it to the History Channel, or any of these other approaches you mentioned to help reach the kids. It’s so fast paced nowadays that kids want to be entertained and I think you’re right. I think that’s a tremendous way to capture them rather then doing the staid old way of “Read your books…”

 

HH: History has great stories, and great stories are entertaining. And I think this political season has been great for history because history is being made as we speak. And I think kids know that. And I think they’re excited about it and they’re thrilled to be living through it. If you don’t know that this moment is historic, no matter who wins this election, the people will know. But it’s either going to be an African American man or the first woman on a national ticket. And these are times that really shake things up. And how did we get here? Why didn’t we get here sooner? That’s what we should want to know. And I think people do want to know more than ever.

 

BC: I did gloss over your interest in show business so if I can just back track a second I know that this is a love of yours. Did you want to share a story or two from this area of you life?

 

HH: Well you know. I really think that Lincoln is a character who needs to be brought to life and not only on the page. And that’s why I’ve been lucky enough for these last 8 or 9 years, to do a series of performances with Sam Waterston from Law & Order who I’m sure you know.

 

BC: Yes.

 

HH: I met him 20 years ago or more when he was filming Gore Vidal’s “Lincoln” in Richmond. And we became friends and he’s been just delightful wanting to do this. And we’ve done it in Illinois and Washington and Connecticut and the Metropolitan Museum and the White House and Little Rock and ah …

 

BC: So you take your show on the road?

 

HH: Yes, we take it on the road! And we’re going to do it one last time by the way. Ford’s Theatre on February 26th and then we’re going to close it down forever.

 

BC: How does one get a ticket to that?

 

HH:  I think they’re going to be easily available and free!

So people just have to check in with Ford’s Theatre because it’s not part of their regular theater program. They’re doing a series of Lincoln events. So I think it’s going to be exciting. And I think it’s going to be accessible. I hope we fill it up. And I’m sure he will. You know…I don’t think I’m the attraction!

 

BC: Well for me you would be the attraction…

 

HH: And now I’m starting to do some of these with Richard Dreyfuss, which is a whole different story. Sam Waterston is like meeting a Shakespearean actor. But Richard Dreyfuss is more like meeting me, because he sort of is, I’m not going to say a Mini Me, because I’m his Mini Me! He and I grew up in the same area and if he had not left for California with is dad when he was about 10 he and I, and my wife, would have all gone to the same high school in the same year.

 

So we’ve become close. I did go to see a movie recently. I got to see “W” with him in it and it was a lot of fun.

And he’s done Lincoln now. So it’s a whole different kind of Lincoln, but it’s great fun.

 

BC: I bet it’s interesting to get the two dichotomies of …

 

HH: I know! (laughing)

 

BC: At this point, you’ve given me well over half an hour of a wonderful interview which I thought we might do in 20 minutes so…

 

HH: Well, I know. I talk too much. I’m sorry (laughing)

 

BC: Not at all. I could probably go on for an hour, but that’s…

 

HH: Well, if anybody who is not completely exhausted and wants more information, I do have a website. And I correspond with people on the website. There are also my book things and appearances and pictures. It’s Harold Holzer.com. And I hope people visit me there and I’d love to talk to them.

 

BC: Absolutely. I’ll post it at the bottom of this blog and add a link on the blog as well.

So, for the last question, what does Harold Holzer have planned over the next 2 to 3 years?

 

HH: I’m glad you asked!

 

BC: (Laughing)

 

HH: Probably not a good idea for marketing purposes!

 

BC: (Laughing)

 

HH: I’ll need a special marketer to have so many other things going on so soon. But I am the co-editor of a catalogue that’s coming out for the Library of Congress exhibition. It’s called “In Lincoln’s Hand”. It’s going to be a beautiful collection of absolutely gorgeous scans of some of Lincoln’s greatest letters and speeches from his childhood to his death. Never reproduced so beautifully and each one is going to be accompanied with a commentary by a distinguished observer. We have all four ex-Presidents, Sam Waterston, Steven Spielberg, Liam Neeson. Great writers like Tony Morrison and Adam Gopnik and E.L. Doctorow and, I know I’m forgetting people, but we’ve really got a wonderful list of people. So that’s one project.

 

Then I’ve got a book coming out from the Library of America called “Lincoln Anthology” which is a collection of great literature about Lincoln over the last 150 years. Ranging from William Cullen Briant on though Whitman and Sandburg, up to Gore Vidal and ending with Barack Obama’s speech in Springfield when he announced his candidacy for President. So that’s a big project.

 

And then I’m the guest curator and historian at an exhibition at the New York Historical Society next fall called “Lincoln and New York”. Yes there is a New York story and we’re going to tell it. And I’m sure we’re gonna make every effort to take complete credit for Lincoln ‘cause that’s what New Yorkers do.

 

BC: (Laughing)

 

HH: And I think that’s enough for awhile.

 

BC: Do you have a favorite Lincoln quote?

 

HH: A favorite Lincoln quote! You know, I’ve become so immersed in the period between the election and the inauguration that my new favorite quote is a very unserious one. When Lincoln got really angry and the people were expecting him to talk too soon, about too much, and to sooth and beg the South to let him be President, even though he felt he’d legitimately won the election, he said “I will not be a sucked egg, all shell and no insides!” That’s my new favorite quote.

 

BC: (Laughing)

 

HH: None of us wants a president who’s a sucked egg! We want them whole. And hopefully that’s what we’ll have with our new president as well.

 

BC: This has been a wonderful interview and I want to thank you Mr. Holzer for joining me today and sharing your thoughts with my readers. As mentioned earlier, you have a new book out “Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860 -1861”. And you folks out there need to look it up and read more from this great scholar.

 

HH: Barry, thank you very much.

 

BC: You’re very welcome. Thank you.

 

 

END

 

 

EPILOGUE:

Since the interview, the country has elected its next President of the United States in Barack Obama. As Mr. Holzer indicated in this interview, it’s an historic time. It’s living history. Watch it closely. Live it now, and in a few years, remember that you were here to experience it.

 

To close, I have to say that I truly enjoyed this conversation with Mr. Holzer. For me, there is nothing like talking to an expert about something you love. So many holes in one’s education get filled in, resulting in a more complete picture.

 

This interview was recorded live and has been edited (to take out all the ums, ahs and ‘poorly asked questions’ that I stumbled through). If time permits, I’ll post the audio file of the interview so you can hear Mr. Holzer’s words and ‘charm’. He really is a nice man!

 

Mr. Holzer’s generosity cannot be appreciated enough by me. Thank you again.

 

Below is the information I promised earlier.

 

Harold Holzer’s website is: www.haroldholzer.com.

 

Mr. Holzer’s Gettysburg appearances from November 16 – 19 are listed below.

 

  • Nov 16 • Opening Night Speaker for The Lincoln Forum, Gettysburg, PA (speaking on Lincoln: President-Elect)
  • Nov 17 • Lincoln Forum Book Signing at the Holiday Inn Gettysburg, 516 Baltimore Street, Gettysburg, PA
  • Nov 18 • Lincoln Forum Book Signing at the Gettysburg Visitor Center, 87 Taneytown Road, Gettysburg, PA
  • Nov 19 • Lincoln Forum “Lincoln Commemorative Coin” unveiling at the Gettysburg Cemetery, 87 Taneytown Road, Gettysburg, PA.

 

 —————————————————————–

 Other posted interviews to date:

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

(posted on December 08, 2008) 

 

“An Awesometalk With” Robert Krauss, 509th Composite Group Historian

(posted on December 16, 2008) 

—————————————————————–

 

Best

Barry

 

outreach@awesometalks.com

.

WHAT IS THE LAST KNOWN PICTURE OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN ALIVE?

 

October 27, 2008: Barry Cauchon

Which of these pictures do you believe is the last one ever taken of Abraham Lincoln while he was alive?

   

Recently I’ve received quite a number of inquiries from students wanting to know the true answer to that question. The volume of inquiries makes me believe that a wonderful teacher somewhere has given an assignment to his/her class on this subject. If so, it’s a good exercise because there is so much conflicting information on this topic that I wanted to be sure myself before commenting.

So the first thing I did when faced with this ‘puzzle’ was to investigate the subject from all angles. First I took what I knew about the subject and mixed that with what I could find in books, on the Internet, from the personal opinions from peers and finally, comments from the experts.

I try very hard to only publish information that is verifiably true in an attempt to keep the historical record straight. With the advent of the Internet and self-publishing, it is astonishing to see how much information is posted as fact, when in fact, it is incorrect. The Internet has become a huge game of ‘BROKEN TELEPHONE LINE’ on which factual information quickly becomes outdated, twisted, misquoted, misunderstood and worst of all, reported as the God’s honest truth.

Case in point is the question the students have asked. During Mr. Lincoln’s political career, he participated in many photo sessions as well as sittings for life paintings and even two life masks. The three photos presented at the start of this article are the ones most claimed by sources to be the last photo taken of the President. A quick search on Google helps to prove this point. I found these claims on websites, in books and even in auctions for pictures being sold on ebay. There can only be ‘one last photo’ of Mr. Lincoln taken while he was alive. I say ‘alive’ because there is one authenticated photo in existence of the slain President in his coffin in NYC but that is a different story entirely.

To start with, let me clarify why there is so much confusion over this issue. Basically, the pictures above were taken at two different photo sessions in 1865. One was an impromptu session with photographer Henry F. Warren on the south balcony of the White House on March 6, 1865, just two days after Lincoln’s 2nd inauguration. In that session, Mr. Warren took three pictures of the President.

The other was a formal portrait sitting with photographer Alexander Gardner. At that session, Gardner took a total of five photographs. The date of this session is where the confusion exists. Originally, most Lincoln scholars accepted a date of Monday, April 10, 1865 as the day the sitting took place. Several books published in the 1960s by well-respected Lincoln authors agreed with this date. April 10 meant that these photos were taken just days before Lincoln’s assassination on Friday, April 14. 

But a few years ago, new evidence was found by Mr. Harold Holzer, an eminent Lincoln scholar from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The evidence indicated that the date of April 10 was not correct and was more likely Sunday, February 05, 1865 instead. This being the case, the Warren photo suddenly became the last known one of Lincoln alive and to this day, it is still considered so.

I have corresponded with Mr. Holzer on numerous occasions and so I wrote to him to ask about this information. He wrote me a nice email in response and included some specifics about the circumstances surrounding his discovery.

“Barry
Happy to respond. Meserve, Lorant, and Ostendorf all long accepted the date of April 10 for the final Gardner studio poses. Then, years ago, I was researching Lincoln paintings from life and came across the diary of Matthew Wilson, who based his portrait in part on photos he commissioned–at Gardner’s. His canvas bore an unmistakable resemblance to one of the photos in that long-accepted “last” sitting–and according to the artist’s diary, the sitting took place on Feb. 5. Ostendorf and others quickly accepted–maybe appropriated is a better word–the story and adopted the new date. So that’s how Warren became the last photos. Since they were taken outdoors, however, some point out that Gardner’s remain the final studio poses. Hope this helps — Harold”
.
Before continuing, I want to thank Mr. Holzer for his generousity in sending me this information. I know he has just released a new book and has begun an extensive schedule of touring dates and speaking engagements. Please see the end of this article for more on Mr. Holzer’s book and his personal appearance schedule.

Below is a description of the two photo sessions from an article written by James J. Nance for the February 2008 issue of Kentucky Monthly Magazine entitled “Lincoln’s Last Portrait”. Nance credits references from the book “Lincoln in Photographs” by Lloyd Ostendorf and Charles Hamilton, and describes both the Warren and Gardner sessions.

————————————————

UPDATE: March 10, 2009: The Henry F. Warren section of this article, which was based on the Ostendorf and Hamilton photographs may not be 100% correct. I have inserted notes in red where differences of opinions between Lincoln experts vary. Also, a new Warren photo has just become public which may show the President in front of the White House. Although this article does not cover that photograph, I have included it, and a close up, to help put it in context with the rest of the article.

————————————————-

Since the Warren photo is considered the last known one of Lincoln alive, I’ll cover that one first. Then I’ll cover the Gardner session which took place about one month earlier. As well, I have included the information on the Mathew Wilson painting that helped to verify the real date of the Gardner sessions.

THE HENRY F. WARREN PHOTO SESSION (March 06, 1865) 
.
 
 
.
 
“The final Lincoln photographs were taken during his inauguration in early March 1865.  In addition to a number of photographs of candid crowd scenes containing the president taken on March 4th, there were three notable photographs taken by Henry F. Warren on March 6th on the balcony of the White House. President Lincoln granted Mr. Warren’s request for a brief  impromptu photo session on the White House balcony. Lincoln carried a chair out himself.  Perhaps Lincoln believed that some photographic record of his inaugural was in order and Mr. Warren was at the right place at the right time.  The first photo was a standing shot, which is noted in Warren’s papers, although the negative and print have never been seen. The remaining two were quick photographs of the chest and head of a seated Lincoln.  Both of these photographs, O-112 and O-113, the last taken of Lincoln when alive, show him looking haunted and even more emaciated and haggard than during his last portrait O-116 from the session a month before on February 5th. Much of his visible exhaustion was surely due to the hectic activities surrounding his inaugural.  However his more advanced weight loss and deteriorating physical condition is evident. The war was still not over and the final details must have weighed heavily on Lincoln. Although these two Warren photos were posed, they could hardly be called a formal portrait. They are fascinating because of their spontaneity and how well they reveal the tension of the moment. They are also very sad images and are not the way most people wish to remember Abraham Lincoln”. 
————————————————————-
UPDATE: March 10, 2009: The debate about the Warren photo session concerns how many photos were actually taken that day. The story above claims three. Other’s claim two or even one (the one shown above). I have only ever seen just the one original myself. However there is a ‘second’ one, which is a retouched version of same photograph. If both of these photos are from the same original, then the story about two or three photos taken that day may be incorrect. As is often the case in history, conflicting information can often make it difficult to verify the ‘real story’. Regardless of the version you choose to believe, the Warren photo shown above is still considered the last known photo of Lincoln taken while he was alive.
The new photograph made public this week by the current owner Keya Morgan was taken by Henry Warren on March 6, 1865 (the same day as the Lincoln photo above). It is a shot of the White House but when zoomed in on, a tall man with beard appears. When measured in scale against the height of known structures in the picture, the figure is about 6′-4″, the same height as Lincoln. Experts are excited over the find but ‘cautiously optomistic’ about it actually being Lincoln in the photo. If this photo does contain an image of Abraham Lincoln, and it was taken AFTER the photo above, then this would become the LAST KNOWN PHOTO OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN ALIVE.
 
 

 

Recently discovered and published Warren photo taken on March 6, 1865. The image shows the White House. However when closely inspected, an image of a tall bearded man can be seen. Experts are 'cautiously optomistic' about the possibility that this is Abraham Lincoln.

Recently discovered Warren photo taken on March 6, 1865. The image shows the White House. However when closely inspected, an image of a tall bearded man can be seen to the left of the white gate pedestals. Experts are 'cautiously optomistic' about the possibility that this is Abraham Lincoln. Reed Saxon/AP

The photograph was in a family photo album belonging to Ulysses S. Grant VI, the great-great grandson of President Grant. On the back of the photo is Henry F. Warren’s seal and a government tax stamp. A written inscription reads “Lincoln in front of the White House”.

 

 

fgdf

The close up reveals a tall bearded man purported to be Abraham Lincoln. Experts are 'cautiously optomistic' about its validity. If this is Abraham Lincoln, it could be the last image taken of him while alive. Courtesy of Associated Press.

 

 
 
—————————————————————
(continuation of article from October 27, 2008)

I received an email from another Lincoln expert, Professor Ronald Rietveld, Emeritus Professor of History at California State University in Fullerton, California. Professor Rietveld is well known in Lincoln circles as the person who, at age 14, discovered the only known photograph of Abraham Lincoln in death. With regards to the Warren photo, I was surprised to learn that Professor Rietveld owns an original copy. Here is his response to my inquiry about the Warren and Gardner photos.

“Hi Barry:

Your impression that the last known photograph of Lincoln in life was taken by Henry F. Warren on Monday, March 6, 1865–is correct! Indeed, it was taken late afternoon on the south balcony of the White House. And I possess an original copy of that photo which was given to me by Bert Sheldon, a secret service agent at the Franklin D. Roosevelt White House. I think I was about 17 when he gave it to me in Washington, D.C. The other two photos which you attached were taken at Alexander Gardner’s Gallery in Washington, DC on Sunday, February 5, 1865. The last formal pose which Gardner took was a close up. However, the glass plate cracked, and after a single print was made, the glass negative broke completely and Gardner threw the broken pieces away. I do not know when they began giving the date of April 10, 1865 for Gardner’s photos. But the Kunhardts in Twenty Days [1965] missdate the photograph on pages 10-11 of their book. However, the very last photograph taken of the president, as I think you are aware, is the single print of the dead president lying in state in New York City Hall, April 24, 1865, which I discovered in the Nicolay-Hay Papers at the Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield, Illinois on July 20, 1952 at 14.

I hope this is of some help. — Ron Rietveld”.

 

THE ALEXANDER GARDNER PHOTO SESSION (February 05, 1865)

“On a cold bleak Sunday morning on February 5th, 1865 Abraham Lincoln, accompanied by his young son Tad, paid a short visit to the Washington DC photography studio of Alexander Gardner. The Gardner photograph session on February 5th took slightly over an hour from the president’s demanding schedule and consisted of five poses. The first showed a serious looking Tad leaning on a table, beside his amused seated father. All the other poses showed Lincoln sitting in a comfortable Queen Anne style padded chair with minor variations. Of the seated poses, the first had Lincoln with his hands on his legs, the second with his hands grasping the chair arms, and the third with his hands together in his lap holding a pencil and his reading glasses. The third pose, known today to Lincoln scholars as O-116, is the most revered of all Lincoln photos… “  

February 5, 1865 - Alexander Gardner photo of Tad and Abraham Lincoln (exposure #1)


February 5, 1865 - Alexander Gardner photo of Abraham Lincoln (exposure #3)

February 5, 1865 - Alexander Gardner photo of Abraham Lincoln (exposure #3) #O-116

In an article written by Linda Merrill called Abraham Lincoln, February 5, 1865 on http://picturingamerica.neh.gov a great description of the Gardner/Lincoln session is presented.

“Gardner’s surprisingly candid photographs have proven more enduring, even though they were not originally intended to stand alone as works of art. This half-length portrait of Lincoln (above) is one of the finest from that February studio session. The president sits comfortably in a sturdy chair, his left elbow resting on its arm, his right on his own slightly elevated knee. There is nothing in this photograph to indicate Lincoln’s exalted position: we might just as well be looking at a humble country doctor. His clothing appears plain (though not unfashionable) and his loosely knotted bowtie has been left slightly askew. By this point in his public life, the president had sat for dozens of photographs, and he would have been mindful of the need to hold perfectly still during the several minutes it took to make an exposure. In this print, Lincoln’s eyes look steadily toward the camera but his hands fiddle impatiently with his eyeglasses and pencil as if to remind the photographer that he had more important things to do. What draws and holds our attention is Lincoln’s expression, which the poet Walt Whitman described as “a deep latent sadness.” At the time this picture was taken, Lincoln had weathered the worst of the war and almost succeeded in his fight to preserve the Union, yet he was painfully aware how much that cause had cost the nation. Lincoln appears much older than his fifty-five years, and Gardner did nothing to flatter the president’s haggard, careworn features. The photographer may even have exaggerated them, for the turn of Lincoln’s head leaves one side of his face slightly in shadow, making his right eye and cheek appear hollow and cadaverous.

Before this session ended, Gardner asked the president for one last pose. He moved his camera closer and took a photograph of Lincoln’s head, shoulders, and chest.  Mysteriously the glass plate negative cracked. Gardner carefully took it to his dark room and was able to make one print, with an ominous crack across Lincoln’s face, before it broke completely and was discarded. This print, known as O-118, still exists to this day. Over the years many people have associated this crack with a symbolic foretelling of the assassin’s bullet that awaited Lincoln 10 weeks later”.

February 5, 1865 – Alexander Gardner photo of Abraham Lincoln (exposure #5) #O-118. This would have been the last known photo of Lincoln had Matthew Henry Wilson’s diary not confirmed that the Gardner photo session took place in February rather than on April 10 as had been previously believed.

MATTHEW HENRY WILSON, PORTRAIT PAINTING 

The final painting of Lincoln from life was produced by American portraitist Matthew Henry Wilson. Lincoln, accompanied by his son Tad and the artist, visited Gardner’s studio on February 5, 1865. Wilson had been commissioned by Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles for a sum of $85.00 to paint the president’s portrait. Lincoln would later like the result and joke “that it was horridly like the original.”

But at the time of the session, Lincoln could spare so little time to pose, so the artist needed recent photographs to work from. The pictures served their purpose, but the resulting painting—a traditional, formal, bust-length portrait in an oval format—is not particularly distinguished and hardly remembered today.

  
 
After Lincoln’s assassination, a Boston publishing firm exploited the nation’s grief by producing prints of the portrait Matthew Wilson had based on Gardner’s photographs. Gardner’s own publisher countered a few days later by offering photographs from the February studio session. They were advertised as the products of “Mr. Lincoln’s last sitting.” That unsupported (and until recently, unquestioned) claim gave rise to the tradition that Gardner’s portraits had been taken just four days before Lincoln’s death, investing them with a special aura of martyrdom. We now know that these were not in fact the last portraits of Abraham Lincoln. Even though Gardner’s picture does not belong to the president’s final days, it records his weary and worried countenance during the last long weeks of the war, when the surrender at Appomattox was still some months away. 
END
I want to thank James J. Nance for the wonderful article posted here. Mr. Nance is also a talented artist and has produced a digital colorized version of O-116 which he sells online. I loved it so much, I bought one myself.
To view the piece, please see Mr. Nance’s website at:
http://www.abrahamlincolnartgallery.com/artistbio.htm
If you want to read about Harold Holzer’s new book “Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-1861” and review his very active speaking schedule, please link to:

http://www.haroldholzer.com/hh_1_home.html

For Professor Ronald Rietveld’s website, please link to:

http://faculty.fullerton.edu/rrietveld/

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

—————————————————————–

  

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) 

 

—————————————————————–

sdfsd

Tall man by gate pedestal thought to be Abraham Lincoln. If true, this could be the last known photograph of Lincoln taken while alive.

.

LINCOLN AT GETTYSBURG PHOTOS DISCOVERED IN 2006

 

August 20, 2008: Barry Cauchon: Please note that this is an updated article from a previously published one dated July 24, 2008 under the title of “Lincoln Photos … Real, Fake or ‘Who Knows’!

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 stove pipe 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 stove pipe 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. In all three photos, 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, historian and scholar, 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 mustache) and favored wearing stove pipe hats. Lamon accompied Lincoln to the Gettysburg ceremonies that day and is photographed wearing his stovetop hat.

Ward Hill Lamon

Ward Hill Lamon (Lincoln's friend and self appointed bodyguard)

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.

Ward Lamon Hill (with stovetop and beard) stands to the left of Lincoln in the only authenticated photo of Lincoln at Gettysburg.

Enhanced photo of Lincoln seated on stage in the only authenticated picture of Lincoln at Gettysburg. Ward Hill Lamon (with stovetop hat, beart and mustache) stands to the left of the president and is believed by some to be the man seen in the recent photos discovered in 2006. Although this adds to the possibly that the current photos are not of Lincoln, this author likes to believe that it is him!

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

—————————————————————–

  

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) 

 

—————————————————————–

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

—————————————————————–

  

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) 

 

—————————————————————–