NYT reports Lincoln fraud

Historians in the News

Just hours before Abraham Lincoln “put on his hat and headed for Ford’s Theater,” on April 14, 1865, the president is said to have spared a mentally incompetent Army private the death penalty for desertion.

The legendary act of compassion was revealed by Thomas Lowry, an amateur historian, who said he found the pardon among hundreds of untapped Lincoln documents in the National Archives in 1998 and described it in a book the following year. His discovery was hailed by scholars as one of the biggest findings of Lincoln memorabilia in the 20th century.

But on Monday, the National Archives disclosed that Dr. Lowry had altered the date on the original pardon to promote his book, changing the year to 1865 from 1864, possibly to make it look as if the pardon was one of the president’s final acts — and thus historic.

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

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