Was Abe Lincoln’s ‘pardon to death row inmate before assassination’ claim doctored?

January 25th, 2011 - 3:32 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Jan 25 (ANI): An amateur US historian has been accused of doctoring a key document of former US President Abraham Lincoln for his own benefit by changing the date of an April 14, 1864, presidential pardon to 1865, the fateful day Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre.

Dr. Thomas Lowry is a 78-year-old Virginia psychiatrist, who, after researching Civil War documents with his wife, wrote “Don’t Shoot That Boy: Abraham Lincoln and Military Justice,” which was published in 1999.

Dr. Lowry had earlier claimed that Lincoln had spared a mentally incompetent soldier ‘the death penalty’ for desertion on April 14, 1865, just hours before his assassination. He had also said that he had found Lincoln’s act of compassion in among his hundreds of untapped documents in the National Archives in 1998, and described it in a book the following year.

However, the National Archives disagreed with Dr. Lowry’s claims, saying that he had altered the date on the original pardon from 1864 to 1865 to promote his book and publicise that the pardon was apparently one of the President’s final acts.

The New York Times quoted Trevor Plante, the Archives’ acting chief of reference whose suspicions about the timing of the pardon were finally confirmed after he consulted a published version of Lincoln’s collected works, as saying: “This kind of put him into the Lincoln expert world.”

Paul Brachfeld, the inspector general of the National Archives and Records Administration, said Dr. Lowry had “confessed to having erased the ‘4′ and changing it to a ‘5′ “and added he had “even defined the kind of pen he used.”

Dr. Lowry has reportedly been barred from National Archives facilities.

Dr. Lowry, however, insisted that he had not changed the date, and added that it was against his “code of ethics.”

“I got leaned on for two hours with a mixture of pressure and false promises. While they weren’t driving splinters under my fingernails, they said I wouldn’t hear from them again.” (ANI)

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