Thursday, April 10, 2008
"Honest" Abraham's Photographic Journey
Abraham Lincoln took many unique journeys during his lifetime but none was more intriguing than his final photograph. While Lincoln's body was being viewed in New York City a local photographer named Jeremiah Gurney Jr. took several haunting photographs of the dead president. When word reached Secretary of War Stanton he ordered all the plates confiscated and destroyed. Stanton even received a copy of one of the photographs from one of the honor guard that was escorting the body back to Springfield but Stanton was adamant. Even though the plates were destroyed a lone print made its way into the filing cabinet of Stanton and it remained there for twenty-two years. Upon the secretary's death his son Lewis discovered the print and sent it to John Nicolay and John Hay who were writing a massive ten volume biography of Abraham Lincoln. Both men had served as personal secretaries to Lincoln but both decided against including the picture within their book. Nicolay placed the photograph in his own papers which eventually were sent to the Illinois State Historical Society following his death. In 1952 a fifteen-year-old high school student named Ronald Rietveld who was researching Nicolay's life rediscovered the photograph. Now widely circulated in Lincoln books and online the photograph is easily accessible to every American. However, few who view this haunting image of "Father Abraham" appreciate the journey that it took from New York City, to Stantons files, to Nicolays files, to the Illinois State Historical Society and finally to the American people. And the rest is left to history.
One of the greatest hoaxes is the following photograph WHICH IS NOT LINCOLN!!
The pictures supposedly shows Lincoln in his casket. The picture is an obvious fake because the guards did not allow Lincoln to be photographed in his coffin. Secondly, Gurney had to photograph the body from an area overlooking the coffin and too far for any close-ups. Another reason that this photo is fake is the clothing worn by the corpse. Lincoln wore his suit from his second inauguration ceremony and this photograph clearly shows an individual wearing a white outfit. Lincoln’s suit was black and his clothing was not changed during his trip from Washington D.C. to Springfield.
Source: Blood on the Moon by Edward Steers Jr. & http://www.us-civilwar.com/aldie/honor%20guard.html