Lincoln Researcher No Honest Abe

Virginia man admits to tampering with historic document

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    TK
    National Archives
    Lincoln Pardon for Patrick Murphy, April 14, 1864 Record Group 153

    A long-time Abraham Lincoln researcher apparently tried to claim his piece of history by altering another.

    Earlier this month, Thomas Lowry, of Woodbridge, Va., admitted changing the date on a presidential pardon written in President Lincoln's hand in order to make it appear to be Lincoln's final official act before his assassination and thus a find of historical signifcance for Lowry, according to the National Archives.

    In 1998, Lowry changed the date of the pardon for Union Army deserter Patrick Murphy from April 14, 1864, to April 14, 1865 -- the day John Wilkes Booth assassinated Lincoln at Ford's Theatre. Lowry then received recognition for his falsified find of historical significance. The document was displayed in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom in the National Archives Building, and Lowry also referred to the pardon in his 1999 book "Don't Shoot That Boy: Abraham Lincoln and Military Justice."

    Archivist Trevor Plante called attention to Lowry's "5," which appeared to him to be a darker ink than the reset of the date. It also appeared to Plante that another number might have been under the "5."

    Investigative archivist Mitchell Yockelson confirmed Plante's suspicions, according to the National Archives.

    The National Archives Office of the Inspector General sought Lowry's assistance tracking the alteration, and in an interview on Jan. 12, Lowry admitted making the change.

    Tampering is a federal crime, but the National Archives said Lowry, 78, cannot be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has expired.

    The Associated Press's calls to Lowry's home were not immediately returned Monday.

    The National Archives will investigate whether the original date can be restored.


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