"Hinky" Date on Lincoln Document Suspicious; Historian Confesses

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

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

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

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

Lowry has since recanted his admission of guilt. 

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

About the Author

Grace Cordial has been responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Beaufort District Collection at the Beaufort County Library since 1999.  The Beaufort District Collection exists to acquire, preserve, maintain and make accessible a research collection of permanent value which records the history, culture, and environment of our part of the South Carolina lowcountry.  Besides the research room, Cordial manages the “Virtual BDC:” the BDC web pages, the Online Obituary Index, two digital collections, a new BDC.BCL Facebook page, and the Connections blog.  
 
Among her duties is to coordinate or present programs about local history, Gullah culture, and our coastal environment, including occasional instructional sessions about how to perform historical and/or genealogical research.