Lincoln's signature with altered date

Author and researcher Dr. Thomas P Lowery, a respected professional in his field has signed a statement admitting that he tampered with date on a pardon signed by President Abraham Lincoln.

In an effort to gain recognition, he changed the date on a pardon from 1864 to  the same day in1865, to make it appear that Lincoln performed one final act of clemency on the day he was assassinated.

Thirteen years ago, Lowery found the document in the Archives and made the decision to change the date. The researcher, a retired psychiatrist, basked in the glory of his peers and historians as the discovery became known. The good doctor decided that it would be the ultimate feather in this researcher’s cap.

Trevor Plant is the competent archive specialist who uncovered the deceit when he noticed that the number five in the date 1865 was darker than the rest.

Plant checked the document against a collection of Lincoln’s writing, edited by Roy P. Basler in the 1950s. Basler reprinted the pardon of Murphy dated 1864. This confirmed the alteration.

The people at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. are very upset. They knew Lowery and his wife as daily researchers for years. It’s very upsetting when people you know betray a trust.

It has been alleged that Lowry smuggled a special fountain pen with fade-proof ink into the Archives and altered the date on the historical document that saved a young soldier from execution in 1864 to 1865.

The alteration appears clear in the high resolution newspaper and online pictures, but the original document is smaller and Mr. Plant said that it all looks normal, except for the number five, where one can almost see something under it.

Dr. Lowry’s actions have caused security to be tightened:

  • There’s now video surveillance in all the research areas.
  • Picture identification is checked
  • Cell phones must be left at the admissions desk.
  • Researchers are provided with a locker for briefcases, sweaters, jackets, etc.
  • The rooms provide paper to be used in taking notes, and only pencils and ballpoint pens are permitted

Lowry said that he signed the confession because the Archives agents told him it would never be publicized, nor would he face any consequences due to the Statute of Limitations.

Unfortunately, the biggest punishment is that Lowry is now banned from the National Archives for life.

For someone who thrived on critical acclaim amongst researchers and historians, the consequences will follow him for the rest of his life.

To read the complete article written by Lisa Rein and and Jennifer Buske, click on The Washington Post.

2 Comments on Historian Thomas P. Lowery signs confession admitting that he altered a Lincoln document at the National Archives

  1. Randy says:

    Yeah. He probably doesn’t feel remorse because of what he did. He’ll feel bad because of what people will think of him now.

  2. LInda Gartz says:

    I read about this in the NYT and found it very disturbing that a trusted professional would do such a thing. I guess the lure of fame is great.

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