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A Sad Story

I really hope this is all somehow a big misunderstanding. I do not know Mr. Lowry (though I did review one of his books) but have a very hard time believing anyone would really do what he is accused of doing.

Archives: historian tampered with Lincoln pardon
By Matthew Barakat, Associated Press – Mon Jan 24, 4:24 pm ET

McLEAN, Va. – The National Archives says a longtime Abraham Lincoln researcher has been caught telling a big lie about Honest Abe.

The Archives said Monday that historian Thomas P. Lowry, 78, of Woodbridge, has acknowledged that he used a fountain pen with special ink to change the date on a presidential pardon issued by Lincoln to a military deserter, making it appear that Lowry had uncovered a document of historical significance.

Specifically, Lowry changed the date of the pardon from April 14, 1864 to April 14, 1865. The Archive said the change made it look as if Lowry had discovered a document that was perhaps Lincoln’s final official act before he was assassinated that evening at Ford’s Theatre.

Full Story is here.

Mr. Lowry is evidently fighting back.

Va. Historian Denies Tampering With Lincoln Pardon
by The Associated Press
WASHINGTON January 25, 2011, 08:35 am ET

An amateur Virginia historian is denying allegations by the National Archives that he changed the date on a presidential pardon issued by President Abraham Lincoln.

Seventy-eight-year-old Thomas P. Lowry of Woodbridge, Va., said Monday that he was pressured by federal agents to confess. The Archives says Lowry has confessed to using a fountain pen to change the date on a pardon by Lincoln from 1864 to 1865.

The change made it appear that Lowry had discovered a document languishing in the Archives that was likely Lincoln’s final official act before he was assassinated.

Full article is here.

Comments (5) to “A Sad Story”

  1. Sounds like a case of he said, she said at this point. However, it seems obvious that the number has been altered. I would think the National Archives would have been noticed the change in numbers before it was put on display when he first “discovered” it.

  2. From the press release: “In an effort to determine who altered the Murphy pardon, the Office of the Inspector General contacted Lowry, a recognized Lincoln subject-matter expert, for assistance. Lowry initially responded, but when he learned the basis for the contact, communication to the Office of Inspector General ceased.”

    That doesn’t strike me as the behavior of an innocent person.

  3. Well, I said I “hope” this is all a big misunderstanding somehow. But you are right, Will, the more you look at this whole thing, the worse it gets.

    I just do not want to believe someone would actually do something like THIS. Altering an original historical document and deliberately presenting a fabricated fact in a field where there are so many people digging you gotta know you are going to get caught at some point? I know everyone has done something really, really stupid as some point in their life: “to err is human” and all that. But I just can’t believe someone would do something like THIS . . . and for what? For a couple of extra speaking gigs? A few more book sales?

  4. This is why just because an historian says such and such happen…….I always question it and check it. Historians research, study, analyse, and read historical material and then most of the time their decisions are based on interpretation, assumption, and what they believed happen. Historians for the most part get it right, but a person should always research things for themselves and not just take a historian’s word.
    This also reminds me of James McPherson writing a forward for Tom Carhart’s book “Lost Triumph”. A book that has been widely attacked and bashed. I am sure McPherson’s forward help give Carhart’s book a big boost in sales. I know it was one of the main reasons I bought it. I am not sure as to why he wrote the forward. He either felt the book was very good or he knew it wasn’t.


    William Richardson

  5. Carhart got his doctorate at Princeton. If McPherson was not his main advisor, then he was undoubtedly at least on his committee–though the dissertation was on a different topic from “Lost Trimph”.