The Big Picture: Where Would Lincoln Be? Heberton Reveals His Findings

29 Oct
Gardner1stphoto 178 Lincoln DS

See the evidence – click here

In 2010, Craig Heberton and his associate began to review within the Library of Congress’ collection several hi-resolution digital images of three stereographic photographs by Alexander Gardner taken on November 19, 1863 at the Gettysburg Soldier’s Cemetery dedication ceremony – two of which reveal the image of Abraham Lincoln at the scene of the Gettysburg Address – or so Heberton believed and set out to prove. Heberton published his findings in an eBook in 2012: Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg: A Review of Alexander Gardner’s Stereoscopic Photographs. The book (published by WMI Books and available on Amazon) broke new ground in the identification of individuals surrounding Lincoln and the events of that important day at Gettysburg.

On September 24, 2013, the SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE released an article  in their October 2013 issue titled: “Will the Real Abraham Lincoln Please Stand Up?”.  The article announces a photographic discovery by Civil War expert, Christopher Oakley, that places Abraham Lincoln in an Alexander Gardner photograph as well – but Oakley’s figure is different from Heberton’s.  In fact,  Heberton and Oakley make a case for two different figures as the true Lincoln.   A link to the SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE article is below:

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/Will-the-Real-Abraham-Lincoln-Please-Stand-Up-224911272.html#the-new-lincoln-photo-1.jpg

But before reading more, take a look at the big picture yourself in the photo above.  Enlarge it and take in the scene. What do you see? What do you feel?

Alexander Gardner captured a moment here during the four- hour consecration ceremony of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg , on November 19, 1863.   The crowd that was estimated at 15,000, gathered near a hill and a low platform where President Abraham Lincoln and other dignitaries were seated.  Lincoln was to give a short consecration speech — a simple address — following the 2-hour oration by the featured speaker, the Hon. Edward Everett.   Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address took under three minutes to deliver, but what he said continues to ripple across human consciousness today.  Could that be why we yearn to see yet one more photograph of this moment, especially if it would reveal Lincoln in 3-D?

Links for Gettysburg Address and the event in 1863:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gettysburg_Address#Contemporary_sources_and_reaction

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consecration_of_the_National_Cemetery_at_Gettysburg

Now, follow along as Craig Heberton, author of ABRAHAM LINCOLN AT GETTYSBURG: A REVIEW OF ALEXANDER GARDNER’S STEREOSCOPIC PHOTOS,  dissects the big picture and elaborates on his findings that place Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg possibly in two stereoscopic photographs in a location which disagrees with the findings of Professor Oakley. Both explanations are compelling, but who is right?  Read the following and decide for yourself:

(1) When Lincoln approached the elevated speakers’ stand he was “the observed of all observers” in the words of one journalist. Oakley’s Lincoln is  “the completely unobserved of all observers” (with apologies to Shakespeare’s Hamlet).  No one nearby pays him any attention whatsoever even though he is supposed to be beginning his ascent up steps to the speakers’ platform unaccompanied by other members of his entourage (such as his Secretaries Usher and Blair, members of Lincoln’s Cabinet, who like Secretary of State William Seward accompanied Lincoln to the platform). Prof. Oakley asserts that Secretary Seward is visible in the first Gardner photo seated on the speakers’ platform as many as 10 minutes before his Lincoln magically appears — for the very first time — and then begins his ascent up steps to the platform, ignored and unaccompanied by anyone.  Heberton’s Lincoln, on the other hand, is the center of attention for the entire visible crowd on the speakers’ platform. Unlike Oakley’s Lincoln, he is positioned in front of the speakers’ platform on his horse near a presidential-looking eagle finial topped banner. He also is trailed by Lincoln’s “special escort” from the War Department — Provost Marshal General James B. Fry. In his capacity as Lincoln’s special escort, Fry picked up Lincoln at the White House in a carriage, took him to the train station, accompanied him to Gettysburg, and rode behind his President in the procession to the cemetery. Fry later stood near Lincoln on the rostrum. One of Fry’s subordinates was the Gettysburg cemetery dedication event’s Marshal-in-chief — Ward H. Lamon, whose real job was U.S. Marshal for D.C. Lamon believed that his most important job was to keep his former law partner, Abraham Lincoln, safe. Pinpointing Fry on horseback in the first Gardner photo assures us that — as is Heberton’s Lincoln — the real Lincoln is close by.

(2) No men removed or doffed their hats near Oakley’s Lincoln (neither men standing on the ground oriented towards Oakley’s Lincoln nor anyone on the platform) removed their hats in the 2nd Gardner photo in a showing of respect for Oakley’s Lincoln. Journalists described most men removing or doffing their hats in a show of respect as Lincoln approached the speaker’s platform. Two military men staring directly down upon Heberton’s Lincoln (who faces away from them) from atop the speakers’ platform in the first Gardner photo were hatless; by the time the 2nd photo was taken, they had replaced their kepis on their heads.

(3) Oakley’s alleged Seward is seated in the absolutely wrong location despite Prof. Oakley’s claim that his students “triangulated the location of the speakers’ stand from four photos … [and] his Lincoln appeared in precisely the right spot.” Oakley places Secretary of State William Seward at the far right end of the platform, dangling upon it’s edge, and sitting adjacent to alleged stairs. He identifies no other men of distinction near his Seward in Gardner’s first photo. Also, Oakley’s Seward is not in the front row of chairs on the speakers’ platform, rather he is situated several rows behind other men seated with their backs to him. The restrictive view offered by Gardner’s obtuse camera angle and obstructing men mounted on horseback does not reveal fully how many rows deep sat Oakley’s Seward from the front row on the platform. Bachrach’s photo, on the other hand, shows Seward seated next to Lincoln centered in the middle of the first row of the most important dignitaries with an unimpeded view of the crowd. Scholars agree with that alignment. The Bachrach photo shows that no stairs were to Seward’s left; instead, there were — in the following order — Edward Everett then standing, two of Chief Marshal Ward H. Lamon’s aides (standing), Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin and one of his sons, New York Gov. Seymour, and Ohio Gov. Tod. Those three governors represented the states of the Union which had lost the most men at the Battle of Gettysburg — other governors and ex-governors also attended. Several distinctive men visible in the Bachrach photo near the far right side of the platform also are visible in the Gardner photos. They give us the perspective necessary to understand the different views that each of Alexander Gardner and David Bachrach had of the speakers’ platform. Despite Seward’s importance, in the first Gardner photo, Oakley’s Seward is guarded by two little boys standing directly behind him; in the second photo, one of the two boys remained standing behind Oakley’s Steward and Lincoln — two very unexpected platform attendants for two of the three most powerful men in Washington, D.C. Seward is Prof. Oakley’s lynchpin argument for his Lincoln. If his Seward is wrong, then he is left with no one who should have been near the President when he walked up onto the platform and his Lincoln theory is undercut. The mere fact that Oakley’s Seward is seated in the wrong place in the first and second photos and as many as ten minutes ahead of Oakley’s Lincoln means that he cannot be William Seward. [Note: it bears mentioning that Alexander Gardner’s photographic platform was not lined up facing the front of the speakers’ platform; his camera platform was at an obtuse angle to the rostrum and because of that angle, obstructing men mounted on their horses, and members of the crowd standing upon the speakers’ platform, the front row of the speakers’ platform was not visible to Gardner’s camera].

(4) A thick white emulsion crack runs horizontally across a side view of Oakley’s Seward in Gardner’s first photo and his entire facial profile is blurred, preventing an evaluation of his eyes or eyebrows. Oakley acknowledges that his Seward appears as a “gray blur.” The white crack runs horizontally from the lower portion of his nose across his face, preventing any determination of the shape of the tip of that man’s nose. Prof. Oakley claims that in Gardner’s second photo his Seward’s head is “slightly away from [the] camera …[but] in perfect profile.” A review of that photo shows that Oakley’s Seward is not in “perfect profile” and turned so far away from the camera that only the tip of his nose is visible. His chin is distorted by damage to the plate and his eyes and eyebrows (again) are not discernible. In Bachrach’s photo, Seward appears to be seated wearing a topcoat which completely obscures his shirt collar. The entire shirt collar on Oakley’s Seward in the Alexander Gardner photos, however, is fully exposed and he does not appear to be wearing a topcoat over his formal jacket. A blurred man not seated in the proper place does not make for a good candidate to use for overlaying studio photos of Seward.

(5) Prof. Oakley’s claim that his alleged Lincoln is visible only in Gardner’s second photo appears to be wrong. Oakley asserts that his Lincoln appears in Gardner’s second photo by “accident” because he was “standing below the platform” and just then “preparing to mount the steps” to the speakers’ platform. The visual evidence points to a more probable scenario — that Oakley’s Lincoln was seated in the first photo in the exact spot where Oakley places him in the second photo, sporting a tall hat in the identical location and tilted forward in an extremely similar orientation. In this instance, Oakley’s Lincoln’s face cannot be seen, probably because it was turned toward Oakley’s alleged Seward — whose face happened to be turned more towards the alleged Lincoln. Perhaps these gentlemen exchanged a remark about their inability to see what was going on in front of the rostrum. If Oakley’s Lincoln is visible in both photos it means that he was seated at the extreme far end of the speaker’s platform several rows deep from the front of the platform. Otherwise, if his Lincoln was standing in both photos he would have stood rooted in one spot between the shooting of the first and second photos (which, according to Prof. Oakley, was “as much as ten minutes”). Accepting, for the sake of argument that Oakley’s Gardner is visible only in the second photo, Oakley offers no explanation for his whereabouts in the first photo. A review of the positioning of the same people who were moving between the first and second photos reveals that no more than about two minutes (and probably less) passed between those exposures. Oakley’s Lincoln (and his entourage) should be visible somewhere on horseback or on foot within a huge wide open area unimpeded by mounted riders behind his second photo location. However, he is not visible anywhere in the first photo. The best explanation for that is because he was seated on the speakers’ platform next to the alleged Seward.

compare 07

6. If Oakley’s Lincoln was “preparing to mount steps” as he approached the platform on foot then he was in motion rather than stationary. Since he was in motion throughout some or all of the second photo’s time of exposure it must be asked how Gardner’s camera managed to capture an image of him sufficiently clear to reveal all of the minute facial details which Oakley claims renders his candidate a perfect match to a studio photo taken by the same photographer at a distance of a few feet as opposed to 80 to 90 yards at Gettysburg? The answer is that such a feat was impossible given the limitations of 1863 camera and photographic technology. Furthermore, if Oakley’s Lincoln was approaching steps in the second photo he would have appeared either as a series of blurred, twinned, or ghost images. For example, a boy visible in the foreground a few feet from Gardner’s camera moved during some of the exposure resulting in a series of FOUR images of him within the photo. One of those images was clear enough to reveal that he had stood in one of his four spots for about four to five seconds. Each of the other three images of the boy are faint ghost images attesting to his movement. All of this evidence, and more, establishes that Oakley’s Lincoln was stationary and relatively motionless throughout the exposure of the second photo. This further establishes that Oakley’s Lincoln was seated in the second photo at the very edge of the platform to the left of Oakley’s Seward just as he had been in the first photo. But as Prof.  Oakley has acknowledged, Lincoln sat to Seward’s right on the platform, not to his left.

(7) Prof. Oakley’s assertion that ten minutes could have passed between the exposure of the first and second photo is not supported; moreover, it is disproved by his claim that Seward is visible in both photos. One of Prof. Oakley’s current backers, William Frassanito, stated in early 2008 that three to five minutes passed between the first two Gardner exposures.  John Richter has estimated the gap at a minute or two. According to journalists’ reports, Lincoln immediately trailed his cabinet members (including Seward) when he surmounted steps to the platform. If Oakley is correct in his identification of Seward in both Gardner photos, then the time gap between the first and the second Gardner photo had to have been no more than a few seconds or possibly even a minute and we should be able to see the other attending members of Lincoln’s cabinet accompanying him — Secretaries Usher and Blair. But, we do not. Also, as mentioned above, if the time gap between photos #1 and #2 was a minute or less, Oakley’s Lincoln should be just as visible somewhere in the first Gardner photo.

Prof. Oakley’s work on his Virtual Lincoln Project is to be greatly respected, but based upon what has been published, his identification of Lincoln appears to be off the mark.

Join the conversation online.  Follow ABRAHAM LINCOLN AT GETTYSBURG on Facebook and Twitter:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Abraham-Lincoln-at-Gettysburg/338089372973741?ref=hl

https://twitter.com/WMIbooks

Questions and inquiries?  amy@wcabooks.com

The original photographic digital images used in this blog are from the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C., Civil War glass negative collection

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