Video: Historian Admits to Falsifying Lincoln's Final Act

Posted by Cord Jefferson

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With a Spielberg-helmed Abraham Lincoln biopic in the works, at least one Lincoln lie can be put to rest before it's forever pressed into celluloid.

The National Archives announced today that Thomas Lowry, an Archives historian, has admitted to literally rewriting history by altering a Lincoln presidential pardon that is part of the Archives' permanent collection. Lowry changed the date of the pardon for Patrick Murphy, a Union Civil War solider who was court-martialed for desertion, to read April 14, 1865 instead of April 14, 1864. Lincoln was assassinated at Ford's Theater on April 14, 1865, meaning that, had the pardon happened that day, it would probably have been his last official act as president, and thus a significant piece of history.

Lowry gained national media attention for his "discovery" of the pardon in 1998, and he subsequently authored a handful of Lincoln texts as a "noted Lincoln historian." Alas, after one of Lowry's colleagues recently noted that the "5" on the famous pardon looked darker than the rest of the date, Lowry was called in for questioning, where he confessed his fudging.

Lowry has now been banned from all National Archives facilities and research rooms.