Tag Archives: Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln’s Arrival at the Dedication of the Soldiers’ Cemetery in Gettysburg on November 19, 1863

18 Nov

Three stereoscopic glass plate negatives taken at the Gettysburg Soldiers’ Cemetery dedication on November 19, 1863  have been credited to Alexander Gardner’s photographic team. Positive images of the three negatives appear below, courtesy of the Library of Congress. It is believed that the order in which they were taken was first unraveled in 2012 by this author in his ebook Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg: A Review of Alexander Gardner’s Stereoscopic Photos (2012).All 3aThe Gardner photographers perched their dual lens camera atop some sort of a photographic platform which may have been nothing more sophisticated than a folding twelve foot ladder or two. Note the back of a partially bald head which appears in the lower portion of the immediate foreground in the first and last view above. It might be Alexander Gardner’s head captured as he faced out towards the historic scene while standing just below the camera on the front steps of a ladder. A later view of Gardner taken after the war near Manhattan, Kansas (according to R. Mark Katz) appears to reveal that he had that kind of male pattern balding.

As discovered by John J. Richter, photographic detail very likely reveals an Alexander Gardner photographer — visible under the red arrow below — standing atop the photographic platform. This view is attributed to photographer Peter S. Weaver and was taken from a 2nd story window in the Evergreen Cemetery Gatehouse on November 19, 1863 (courtesy, the Library of Congress). 32845umarkedZooming in reveals a darker object beneath the man and just above the heads of several men either on horseback or standing on the front steps of the ladder(s) — likely Gardner’s camera (below).  32845u-gardner2 That photographic platform was used in order to “see” over the large crowd and get a glimpse at portions of (and the area around) the speakers’ platform, as well as other key and unique features, such as a 100 foot tall flagpole erected for the occasion, the Evergreen Cemetery gatehouse, some of East Cemetery Hill, and a large white tent constructed for the privacy of Edward Everett, the keynote speaker. The left side of the first glass plate negative — LC-B815-1160 — exposed within the sequence of three is shown below (courtesy of the Library of Congress). 00652a-left stereo-modified The speakers’ platform, which was described by one observer as only 3 feet above the ground, faced not towards the Gardner photographic position, but was oriented from its center towards the tall flagpole. As described in this author’s book Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg (follow the link), the seating on the speaker’s rostrum was arranged in an orchestral fashion, with its several levels arcing around the center area of the first row where Lincoln sat. If you wonder why Gardner’s team set up their camera so far from the speakers’ platform, please read Heberton’s Lincoln: The Case,” for an analysis. That article, in conjunction with the book Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, also explains why Gardner likely chose to set up his photographic platform at such a severe angle to the speakers’ platform rather than selecting a more “head-on” perspective centered to the middle of the rostrum.

A modern “now” photograph taken by the author on November 18, 2013 in the Gettysburg National Soldiers’ Cemetery from roughly the same location as Gardner’s views is compared with “then” photographic detail from the first exposed Gardner plate, below:Comparison of Gardner's view with modern view1 The Evergreen Cemetery gatehouse, clearly visible in the Gardner view, is almost completely obscured by trees in the modern view. Excluding an addition built after 1863, the gatehouse structure looks much today as it did then. The Gettysburg Soldiers’ National Monument currently stands where the tall flagpole (cropped at its top) is visible in the Gardner stereo view detail.

Working with a very high-res scan of those images provided to him by the Library of Congress, John J. Richter concluded that he had pinpointed Abraham Lincoln in two of the three photographs seated atop a horse obscured from the camera in the exact same location in both of those views. Mr. Richter’s discovery was widely hailed by the national press (follow the link). It was remarkable to realize that Lincoln had gone undetected in two stereo views taken at Gettysburg for all of those years until the announcement in November 2007. See detail, below, of Mr. Richter’s Lincoln candidate from both views. 00673a-left stereo-cropped-sharpened detail 2d staff-modIn early 2008, William A. Frassanito posted  an article at a friend’s blog (follow the link) which opined that the man Mr. Richter identified as Lincoln wasn’t Honest Abe and added several arguments why it was virtually impossible for Lincoln to have been visible when any of the stereo views were taken. Mr. Frassanito wrote that “it is well documented that Lincoln was accompanied and flanked by several mounted civilians, including the chief marshal and three members of Lincoln’s cabinet” and concluded that the three images reveal that all of Gardner’s views were taken only after Lincoln and the other dignitaries had been seated on the speakers’ platform.

In 2012, this author published Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg which sequenced the three stereo views, discussed the documentary and photographic evidence, and concluded that Lincoln could have been present and also visible in the images as he was arriving by horseback at the speakers’ platform. That book also evaluated John Richter’s candidate, finding that he could be Lincoln despite the absence of conclusive visual evidence. It was explained, however, that the author’s research did not uncover any contemporary accounts describing Lincoln riding alone in front of and just beyond the speakers’ platform, raising his left arm as if giving a salute, and remaining seated atop his horse unflinchingly for a minute or two or three. Several potential appearance issues involving Mr. Richter’s candidate also were evaluated relating to his hat, hairline, shirt collar, and beard.

However, Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg also disclosed another Lincoln candidate whom this author feels is even more compelling than Mr. Richter’s because of a substantial amount of supporting contextual evidence: the location of that candidate, the visible crowd’s attention focused in his direction in both photos, the respectful hat-tipping reaction of some members of the crowd whose gazes were glued to him, his very close proximity to the man assigned by the Secretary of War to escort Lincoln (Provost Marshal General Fry), his tall silk hat adorned by a different-toned band matching accounts that Lincoln’s hat was wrapped with a mourning band, his large white-gloved right hand extended palm-up toward the camera in the first view, and what can be discerned of his facial appearance. The most striking of his facial features is his Lincoln-like jutting chin capped by a modest beard. See Heberton’s Lincoln candidate, below, from the first and second Gardner stereo views. Detail from one of Lincoln’s studio images taken by Alexander Gardner in Washington, D.C. on November 8, 1863 has been inserted next to the “ghost image” (caused by a hyper-fleeting pose) in the second photo to allow for a side-by-side comparison.  17807u-detail015 17806a-ghost-lincolnBecause this man’s face appears in dark shadows created by the brow of his hat in the first view and he likely moved during much of the lengthy exposure in the second view creating a “ghost image” in front of a “fixed” image of his tall silk hat, the case for this candidate as Lincoln is more heavily anchored to substantial contextual support. See detail, below, from the first-in-time Gardner stereo view revealing the relative positions of Mr. Richter’s candidate, this author’s candidate, and Mr. Oakley’s candidate (discussed below). 17807u_crop_boy3But there is a third candidate. The Smithsonian Magazine, in its October 2013 article “Will the Real Abraham Lincoln Please Stand Up?,” proclaimed that within one of the Alex Gardner stereo views, Christopher Oakley had made “what looks to be the most significant, if not the most provocative, Abraham Lincoln photo find of the last 60 years.” Mr. Oakley asserted that his candidate was “accidentally” captured by Gardner’s camera as he stood frozen throughout the entire passage of that plate’s lengthy exposure while stooped over, looking at the ground beneath him, and holding a rigid pose for several seconds despite surmounting unseen steps leading to the platform. The many reasons why Professor Oakley’s candidate cannot be Abraham Lincoln — ranging from his completely mismatched nose to the fact that he is seated (not standing) in two photos nowhere near the spot that Lincoln is documented to have been seated, “guarded” by two little boys, and ignored by all of the visible spectators on the speakers’ platform — are laid out in Heberton’s Lincoln: The Case,” Where is Lincoln?: Heberton Takes on the Flaws in Oakley’s Case,” the press release Should Oakley’s Lincoln Sit Down?,” and The Big Picture: Where Would Lincoln Be? Heberton Reveals His Findings.” Click on those links also for a fuller explanation of the case for this author’s Lincoln candidate. Here is Mr. Oakley’s “enhanced” representation of his hawk-nosed Lincoln candidate which he presented on the CBS Evening News broadcast on November 19, 2013 along with detail from Gardner’s second stereo view at the Library of Congress. 2013-011-19_CBS Evening New_002 04063u cxA visual review of the detail within the first and second Gardner view reveals that Mr. Oakley’s candidate was seated in the same spot in both views. That location is at the extreme far end of the platform and, as can been seen, is not in the first row of seats. Moreover, Mr. Oakley claims that the man seated to the right of his candidate for Lincoln is Secretary of State William H. Seward. Lincoln, in actuality, was seated in the center of the front row, with Seward to his left, nowhere near Mr. Oakley’s candidate pictured below:compare 07Below is a comparison between a different photograph (on the top) attributed to photographer David Bachrach showing exactly where Lincoln was seated with Seward to his left (rather than to his right) and the Gardner stereo (on the bottom). The Bachrach photo is marked to illustrate the area where Mr. Oakley’s candidate was seated had it been visible in that view. This gives one a perspective of how far removed Mr. Oakley’s candidate was situated from where President Lincoln sat.00cPresently, this author believes that Mr. Oakley’s candidate for Seward could be soft-chinned Simon Cameron, who earlier in 1863 had resigned his position as the U.S. minister to Russia and returned to his native Pennsylvania. Before his appointment as ambassador, Cameron had stepped down as Lincoln’s Secretary of War in January of 1862 because of “mismanagement, corruption and abuse of patronage.” This would explain why he was seated in an area relatively proximate to where a number of foreign diplomats were situated but well removed from Lincoln. See, below, a horizontally flipped studio image of Simon Cameron (courtesy, the Library of Congress) placed in the middle of cropped detail of the man whom Mr. Oakley has unequivocally identified as Seward.cf Oakley Seward to Simon Cameron flippedThe left side of the first exposed Gardner negative at Gettysburg  — LC-B815-1160 — is marked, below, to show the locations of the three Lincoln candidates.00652a-left-stereo-modified-midpoint-language62What is to be made of these 3 Lincoln candidates? Some people embrace one of them as Lincoln. Some just don’t know or are bewildered when they too quickly attempt to interpret the photographic evidence and ignore the contextual documentary evidence. Others adhere to the position that Gardner merely took three “establishing” or “generic crowd shots” (representing the sum total of his photographic work at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863), had zero interest in capturing a scene with Lincoln, and didn’t even accidentally capture Lincoln in any of the three stereo views. Nevertheless, an evaluation of whether Gardner intentionally placed his camera where he did in order to try to capture two relatively rapid-fire views of Lincoln arriving at the Cemetery upon his horse + one much later view of the famous keynote speaker, Edward Everett, arriving on the speaker’s platform is laid out in Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg and several of this author’s blog articles at abrahamlincolnatgettysburg.wordpress.com.

Below is a summary of the cases for each of the 3 Lincoln candidates. The contemporary accounts establish that Lincoln wore a mourning band on his tall silk hat, his hands were covered by white gloves, many of the men in the crowd on the speakers’ platform removed their hats in a show of respect when Lincoln arrived in the front of the platform, Lincoln was surrounded by dignitaries as he approached the platform and when he surmounted its steps, Lincoln “was the [most] observed of the observed” when he arrived, Lincoln was seated in the very center of the front row of chairs placed on the platform, Lincoln made a graceful bow to the crowd after his arrival, and Lincoln paid great attention to children in Gettysburg, including picking up and placing a child on his saddle briefly during his horseback ride in the procession to the Cemetery from the town. 3 Lincoln comparison 2015-11-16[2]

What do you, a member of the jury, think? Remember that the standard of evidence to be applied is merely a “preponderance of the evidence” and not “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This isn’t a criminal trial. Can you reach a verdict or do you think we have a “hung jury?”

by Craig Heberton

November 18, 2015. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved by Craig Heberton.

Note: This author now believes that the man appearing seated to the left of Lincoln (Lincoln’s right) in the photo attributed to David Bachrach is not Ward H. Lamon, as marked on one of the images above, but Lincoln’s assistant John Nicolay. This is in harmony with Mr. Oakley’s identification of that man.

 

 

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Teacher, Teach Thyself About Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address”

3 Oct

Imagine yourself as a young male schoolteacher in Pennsylvania about 150 years ago.

You have been invited to attend the Thirteenth Annual Session of the Pennsylvania State Teachers’ Association in Gettysburg from July 31st to August 2nd, 1866.[1] President Lincoln’s assassination and the end of four unfathomably bloody and numbing years of war are only a few months removed in time. You have returned home from two years of military service but minus some family members, soldier colleagues, and friends. Though the gruesome and glorious events of 1861-1865 are forever etched in your memory, your job now, as it was for several months before you enlisted, is to educate schoolchildren.[2]

The chance to see the famous Gettysburg battlefield  is irresistible. While the battle raged there, you served in the 45th Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment under the cousin of Pennsylvania Governor Curtin at the assault on Vicksburg.[3] That Vicksburg and several other battles in which you participated never attained the fame of Gettysburg is still beyond your comprehension. For that reason, you want to see Gettysburg. Because the Pennsylvania State Teachers’ Association has arranged for free rail fare, you have no excuse not to go.

You arrive in Gettysburg on the afternoon of July 30, 1866 at the same rail station from which wounded soldiers were borne off to hospitals back east only three years ago; you also make a mental note that President Lincoln and other famous American and foreign dignitaries passed through the same station. At the Gettysburg Courthouse you register for the event by paying an annual fee of $1.00. There you encounter the President of the State Teachers’ Association, Dr. S.P. Bates, who asks you to act as a scrivener for the Session meetings and serve as the chronicler of arranged Gettysburg battlefield visits. He explains that if you agree, you will be asked to compose a written account for the September 1866 edition of the Pennsylvania School Journal. He knows of your stenography and writing skills and offers to pay you a nominal sum for your services. You are honored by the request and immediately consent.

The opening speaker at the Association’s morning session on July 31, 1866 is Dr. Bates. He explains how an unexpectedly large turnout forced the relocation of the session meetings from the Court House to St. James Lutheran Church on York St. You wonder to yourself how the Association was caught unawares by the large turnout — why didn’t they anticipate that so many teachers would want to see the Gettysburg battlefield? You are pleased to learn that “arrangements [will] be made for a visit to the battle-field by members present, with suitable guides [so as not to] interfere with the regular session …” Dr. Bates further expresses the hope that joining together on the “great and decisive battle-field” of Gettysburg where …

“many of the soldiers here were teachers … should incite us to still greater efforts. Our schools, academics and colleges were preserved by this victory; but we should not be satisfied with this result. The cause of Education, thus preserved, must also be made progressive or rather aggressive … The future condition of [especially the Southern States] will greatly depend upon the use now to be made, by the art of the teacher, of the advantages thus conquered for its children.”[4]

The County Superintendent of Schools for Adams County, Pa., Mr. Aaron Shelley, speaks next. He had been a teacher before his first election to the post of county superintendent in 1863[5]. After welcoming us to Gettysburg, he explains that …

“there are those present who participated in the sanguinary conflict here, and to them I must leave the task of describing more fully the scene and events which have made Gettysburg so celebrated …  You will not fail to visit the Soldiers’ National Cemetery and shed a tear over the graves of the gallant dead … It is the soldier’s duty to fight for principles, but it is the teacher’s duty to establish and maintain them … Yours is truly a mission of love and good will.”[6] [emphasis added]

Late in the afternoon, you join a group visiting Pennsylvania College at the invitation of its president, Dr. Henry L. Baugher, who receives you there. A Cincinnati journalist’s description of Dr. Baugher is apt:

“a semi bald head, a hooked Roman nose, clear blue eye, and a decidedly clerical face. He would pass anywhere for a theological professor, a man of firm will, but kindly.”[7]

You express your keen interest in seeing the battlefield on Cemetery Hill to Dr. Baugher. He, like Mr. Shelley, graciously explains that you should not fail to pay homage at the Soldiers’ Cemetery and there ponder President Lincoln’s consecration address. Dr. Baugher mentions, too, the role he played in those dedication ceremonies by giving a brief closing benediction after Lincoln’s remarks.[8] You tell him what an honor it must have been to speak the closing prayer at such an auspicious event on hallowed ground with President Lincoln seated just a few feet away. [Dr. Henry Baugher, below, from the Dickinson College Archives]:Henry L BaugherpicYou then join at least 200 other teachers under the carriage[9] escort of Colonel George Fisher McFarland[10], a teacher and former principal of McAlister Academy in Juniata County, Pa., who lost a leg during the battle’s first day at Gettysburg. It was there that he led the 151st Pennsylvania Regiment (aka the “Schoolteachers Regiment”) to reinforce the Iron Brigade around Herbst Woods. Near there the 151st took up defenses along Willoughby Run. When the entire First Corps fell back, he had his regiment rally at the Lutheran Theological Seminary where he was shot in both legs.[11] By fighting a delaying action, McFarland’s regiment suffered extraordinarily high casualties and losses (337 of 467 men, or about 72%). [Below, left, a pre-Gettysburg photograph of Geo. F. McFarland  and detail of his gravestone at Harrisburg Cemetery, both from findagrave.com]:

Col George F McFarland buried in HarrisburgCol George F McFarland -151st PA - Harrisburg Cem2

Wrote General Abner Doubleday:

“At Gettysburg [the 151st Pa Regiment] won, under the brave McFarland, an imperishable fame. They defended the left front of the First Corps against vastly superior numbers; covered its retreat … and enabled me, by their determined resistance, to withdraw the corps in comparative safety … I can never forget the services rendered me by this regiment, directed by the gallantry and genius of McFarland. I believe they saved the First Corps, and were among the chief instruments to save the Army of the Potomac and the country from unimaginable disaster.”[12]

You are honored that the “brave McFarland” proudly leads you and the others in your group to where he understands General Reynolds fell — “the officer whose ‘magnificent rashness’ perhaps assured to us the victory.” Pausing on that ground, he speaks of Reynolds in reverential, almost hushed tones. [John F. Reynolds, pictured below, courtesy of the Library of Congress]:

Gen John F Reynolds LOC

After narrating “many incidents of the fight” and the first day’s “positions held by the troops at different times in the day,” Col. McFarland escorts your rapt and attentive group to the Lutheran Theological Seminary, also located on the battlefield, and then directs you to enter the building where his leg was amputated at a temporary hospital before the Confederates overran the position and took him prisoner. You think you hear him musing about where his amputated leg might be buried before he speaks with the highest praise for the services rendered by the surgeons and their assistants in that makeshift hospital which at present again functions as a school for higher education.

Thanks to the Colonel, you are beginning to understand the significance of Gettysburg.

Later that evening, Col. McFarland delivered a presentation in which he declared:

“the real issues involved [in the late rebellion] were better understood by the soldiers of the Union army than by those of the Rebel army … whether from the nature of the issues involved, or from other causes, more reason and less passion were exhibited by the soldiers of the Union than the Rebel army … and important differences between [the two armies] were the result of the universal diffusion of knowledge among the masses in the North, and a total want of this diffusion of knowledge amongst the masses in the South … Whole regiments of teachers responded to the calls of President Lincoln for troops, and hundreds sealed their devotion … by shedding their blood in its defence … It was the fortune of the speaker to lead full sixty teachers into battle just west of the Seminary, in the first day’s fight, [many of whom were killed or wounded]. The victory at Gettysburg [,] the work of the teacher! … And may you who have assembled upon this sacred spot to re-burnish your arms for new battles with ignorance and passion, catch the spirit of your worthy co-laborers who met here three years ago …” [emphasis added] [13]

Arising in the darkness early the following day, you depart for a tour of the second and third days’ fighting shortly after 6 a.m. Your guides are Col. McFarland, “the venerable John Burns” (the only citizen of Gettysburg reputed to have taken up arms against the Rebels at Gettysburg), Major Henry Lee, and Captain Walter L. Owens (a music teacher).[14] [John Burns, pictured below, left, in mid-July 1863 in front of his Gettysburg home, posing with a musket, by Mathew Brady photographers, courtesy the Library of Congress; and Capt. Walter L. Owens of the 151st Pa. Regiment, below, right, courtesy of the Gettysburg National Military Park library]:

01658vx1Capt Walter L Owens 151st PA Gettysburg National Military Park library

You all proceed as a singular group to the Soldiers’ Cemetery. From there, you split up and your group follows McFarland, Lee, and Burns to the right for a tour of Culp’s Hill where you are regaled with stories of heroism and observe the projectile-riddled trees and the Union breastwork defenses thrown up at the barb of their fishhook lines. The other even larger group leaves Cemetery Hill and follows Capt. Walter L. Owens[15] to the left on a tour towards the “Round Top.” One of the teachers in the Owens group later relays to you some of what he observed, allowing you to report:

“The evidences of the conflict are still to be seen in many directions. At one place [on the route to the Round Top] we found a human skull …. the farmer informed us that he had turned it up with his plough [but not why it was fixed “upon the top of a paling”]. Most of the stone breastworks on [the left] side, and those of earth and logs on Culp’s Hill still remain as they were left at the close of the great battle, the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association having preserved the ground intact as far as was possible.”

When the tour returns to town before 10 a.m., you thank each of your guides by shaking their hands. Only John Burns eludes your handshake. Your appreciation of the Battle of Gettysburg and some of the town’s unusual and colorful residents has grown even greater. When official Association business resumes, several teachers debate the merits and demerits of coed schooling followed by discourses on the subject of “grammar” during the afternoon session. Then it is time to again visit Cemetery Hill. You write:

The most interesting episode of the week was the visit to the NATIONAL CEMETERY, on Wednesday evening … after an early tea, the members [of the Association] and many citizens of Gettysburg, who had heard of the proposed visit, betook themselves to Cemetery Hill. About half past six o’clock the assemblage of several hundred was called to order by COL. MCFARLAND …” [emphasis added]

Once upon the grounds of the National Cemetery, you are struck by the beauty of the final resting place for many of the Union soldiers killed at Gettysburg. It is classically simple, elegant, and geometrically curved in design. A poignant resting place with a commanding view.

“After the singing of the Star Spangled Banner, by the Glee Club,” Professor Martin L. Stoever of Gettysburg’s Pennsylvania College ” (pictured below, c.1868, from the Gettysburg College Special Collections)

Stoever – Martin L. Stoever (ca. 1868) Gettysburg College Special Collections

announced the reading of PRESIDENT LINCOLN’S inimitable address, by MAJOR HARRY T. LEE, a member of the Association.” [Henry (aka Harry) T. Lee, below left, from Kirk, Hyland C., Heavy Guns and Light: A History of the 4th NY Heavy Artillery (1890); and in a much later photo when he was a lawyer in Los Angeles, appearing in History of the Bench and Bar of Southern California (1909):[16]

Henry T Lee-4th NY Artillery Heavy_p253  Henry Thomas Lee from History of the Bench and Bar of Southern California, 1909Major Henry Thomas Lee was then a Professor in the Pardee Scientific Course of Lafayette College. He had “participated in the three days’ battle, serving on the staff of GEN. DOUBLEDAY” as a member of the 4th New York Artillery. He knows what happened here during the battle.

Professor Stoever further explains that Major Lee “was also present at the consecration of the battle-ground, when the PRESIDENT’S speech was delivered”[17] at the time your 45th Pennsylvania was in the midst of its Knoxville campaign. You realize that the Major also knows what happened here at the cemetery dedication on November 19, 1863. On that topic, Major Lee made the following remarks:

“In the presence of these graves, within sight of Gettysburg, upon this doubly consecrated spot, it is fitting that no word should be uttered save that which comes from the heart; and its has been thought appropriate that in this solemn presence we should let our martyred PRESIDENT speak again as once before he spoke to an assembled multitude upon this crowded hillside, many of them the friends and relatives of those who sleep around us … [Major Lee then summarized the November 19, 1863 ceremonies:] REV. DR. STOCKTON opened the exercises with an impressive prayer which was followed by the Oration of HON. EDWARD EVERETT. The latter … although it was scholarly, masterly, exquisite; yet it failed to touch the heart. It was faultless as a Greek statue and — as cold. “

Maj. Lee paused for several seconds to let his last point sink in before proceeding:

“Then Lincoln arose, his face seamed and furrowed with marks of care, his eyes moist with tears, and in a voice tremulous with the deepest emotion, he pronounced in his simple and unaffected manner, The Speech of that memorable day. There was not a dry eye in the vast assemblage, and from the loud sobs that interrupted the PRESIDENT during some parts of his address, it was at times impossible to hear what he had to say.”

Contemporary accounts by several journalists reported how Lincoln let loose with several tears that day on the speakers’ platform during Rev. Stockton’s opening prayer. He moistened up yet again much later at a point of time in Edward Everett’s keynote oration when — “the sufferings of dying soldiers were recited [by Everett, and] scarcely a dry eye was visible, the President mingling his tears with those of the people.” Boston Journal, November 23, 1863. A similar account appeared in the Boston Advertiser, November 23, 1863.

You don’t fully understand the impact of Lincoln’s words described by the introductory remarks of Major Lee until the Major reads aloud Lincoln’s Dedicatory Address standing near where Lincoln had once stood on a platform. Lee orates it in a “clear and distinct voice … breaking the stillness of the solemn hour as though he stood alone upon the base of the [Soldiers’] monument.” What he recites aloud to you and your fellow teachers stirs your deepest emotions.

At the conclusion of the event, before returning to the Church in town, you reflect upon:

“the appropriate character of these exercises, the witching beauty of the twilight hour, the passing loveliness of the landscape …, tender thoughts of thirty-five hundred gallants sons of the Republic, martyrs of liberty, who sleep side by side in quiet graves; and the thousand thronging memories that came crowding upon the brain as [you] stood upon the great sacrificial Altar of Freedom.”

Moved, you find yourself asking rhetorically, “what member of the Association [here] present can ever forget this reading of the DEDICATORY ADDRESS on CEMETERY HILL?”

And later, back in your quarters, you record your closing thoughts on paper:

“Of the world’s great orators and authors not one in a hundred has really added anything permanent. But … in [his] address, LINCOLN has done for the American schoolboy what even WASHINGTON never did — has given him a “new speech” — which will do more through her growing youth to mould the patriotic sentiment of coming generations of American people, than is ever possible for even the grand Farewell Address of the “Father of our Country” to accomplish. Among all of the classic models which have become a power in moulding the sentiment of the civilized world, we know of nothing better or more appropriate for the purpose indicated then the brief address of ABRAHAM LINCOLN … It has already passed into our recently published school speakers and will be as familiar to the school-boy of the future, as Webster’s Repy to Hayne, or his famous speech on Bunker Hill. PRESIDENT LINCOLN was in error when he remarked so beautifully, ‘The world will little note nor long remember what we say here.’ His brief address will live as long as Cemetery Hill endures, as long as the world shall tell the deeds that have made Gettysburg immortal in story. To the teacher who may chance to read these paragraphs, we would say: Encourage your pupils to commit this ADDRESS to memory — never to be forgotten. Let the noble sentiment which it breathes become their life-long patriotic creed.” [emphasis added]

As you depart Gettysburg by train on August 2, 1866, headed for the depot in Hanover Junction, you reflect on the sights of and stories told on the Gettysburg battlefield and compare them in your mind to your own wartime experiences. You think of your dead friends and comrades left behind in makeshift graves in southern states who deserve a final resting place and honors of burial in a setting like the Gettysburg Soldiers’ Cemetery. But you also reflect upon the realization that some of what you have experienced in your three full days at Gettysburg faintly echoes elements of the Gettysburg Cemetery Dedication events. You understand your good fortune; this is as close as anyone could possibly have come to time traveling back to Gettysburg on November 19, 1863. From henceforth, you resolve that your curriculum for all students shall include the memorization and recitation of Lincoln’s Dedicatory Address at Gettysburg.

And it is your hope that enduring peace, prosperity, and a new birth of freedom shall be experienced by the next generation.

 

[Note: in reality, the Gettysburg Session of the Pennsylvania State Teachers’ Association did not conclude until the evening of August 2, 1866. On that morning, David McConaughy, a local State Senator, was introduced to the State Teachers’ Association in order to discuss the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association.  Explaining  that “the grandest monument of the battle is the field itself,” McConaughy stated that within 10 days after the battle’s end, Little Round Top (aka Granite Spur) was purchased so “that part of the field, in every respect possible, presents precisely the same appearance that it did at the close of battle.” He noted that other portions of the battlefield also had been bought by the Memorial Association and it was the group’s goal to buy all

“points of greatest interest ..;  open a broad avenue along the main lines of battle; to erect an observatory upon Round Top; and also to erect everywhere low monuments and enduring structures of granite … [with] inscriptions upon these stones [which] tell the visitor … what happened here or there … and thus the Field of Gettysburg may become the Mecca of the American patriot, the perpetual teacher of a nation of freemen.”

Space does not allow for a description of McConaughy’s involvement in the creation of the Gettysburg Soldiers’ National Cemetery, his rivalry with David Wills, his oversight of the Evergreen Cemetery, and his ten year leadership of the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association, etc.]

David McConaughy-65

One thing which really struck me when I first read the 1866 Pennsylvania School Journal article was its glowing praise of what we now call the “Gettysburg Address,” the statement that “it has already passed into our recently published school speakers,” and its earnest prodding that teachers should make their students memorize it. There are many historians who believe that the Gettysburg Address wasn’t widely embraced until much later when the cult of Lincoln had firmly taken root. This article suggests that many Pennsylvania teachers began emphasizing it in their classrooms relatively shortly after it was delivered — which might have occurred elsewhere too (e.g., this article was republished in the Oct. 1866 Rhode Island Schoolmaster journal). Having attended the moving 150th anniversary event at the Gettysburg National Cemetery in 2013, I have experienced the power of historical recreation. To have experienced Gettysburg in such a way in 1866 must have been quite an experience for anyone the least bit interested in American history. With all due respect to the undeniable talents of the recently deceased and beloved James A. Getty (may he rest in peace), the sincerity of Lincoln’s words narrated in the cemetery by a soldier/schoolteacher who had less than 3 years earlier witnessed Lincoln speak must have been even more powerfully conveyed and felt in 1866 than is possible today.

As for John Burns serving as one of the guides during the State Teachers’ Association visit, it wasn’t the only time he did such a thing. “Without realizing it, perhaps, the battle’s ‘civilian hero’ helped inaugurate a unique, distinctly individualistic, and somewhat lucrative occupation for some Gettysburg citizens” — serving as a battlefield guide. Bloom, Robert L., “‘We Never Expected a Battle’: The Civilians at Gettysburg, 1863,” Pennsylvania History, Vol. 55, No. 4 (October 1988) at p. 190.

Epilogue

Major Henry T. Lee’s 1866 description of Lincoln’s  consecration address compares favorably with an even more contemporary account by another educator. Isaac Jackson Allen, a Whig, was the former president of Farmer’s College near Cincinnati and superintendent of that city’s school system before the war began. [I.J. Allen pictured below in 1901, aged 87, from Shotwell, John B., A History of the Schools of Cincinnati (1902)]:

Isaac Jackson Allen p86 in 1901 age 87

For a portion of the war, Isaac Jackson Allen was the editor of the Daily Ohio State Journal of Columbus, OH. He was in Gettysburg as a journalist on November 19, 1863 because:

“Governor David Tod, of Ohio, invited me to join him as a member of his Staff, pro tempore; to this I assented, as that would give me the privilege of a seat on the platform at Gettysburgh.  When there, I was seated near Mr. Lincoln, with whom were seated members of his Cabinet.”[18]

Isaac Jackson Allen reported the following in the November 23, 1863 edition of the Daily Ohio State Journal [emphasis added]:

“President Lincoln rose to deliver the Dedicatory Address. Instantly every eye was fixed and every voice hushed in expectant and respectful attention … The President’s calm but earnest utterance of this brief and beautiful address stirred the deepest fountains of feeling and emotion in the hearts of the vast throng before him; and, when he had concluded, scarcely could an untearful eye be seen, while sobs of smothered emotion were heard on every hand. At our side stood a stout stalwart officer, bearing the insignia of a captain’s rank, the empty sleeve of his coat indicating that he had stood where death was revelling [sic], and as the President, speaking of our Gettysburg soldiers, uttered that beautifully touching sentence, so sublime and pregnant of meaning —

‘The world will little note, nor long remember what we here SAY, but it can never forget what they here DID:’ [sic] —

The gallant soldier’s feelings burst over all restraint; and burrying [sic] his face in his manly frame shook with no unmanly emotion. In a few moments, with a stern struggle to master his emotions, he lifted his still streaming eyes to heaven and in low and solemn tones exclaimed, “God Almighty bless Abraham Lincoln!” And to this spontaneous invocation a thousand hearts around him silently responded, Amen!

In 1904, Allen further elaborated upon Lincoln’s performance:

“Then President Lincoln rose to deliver the Address of Dedication; advanced to the reading desk, put on his steel-rimmed spectacles, took from his vest pocket a thin slip of paper, laid it before him, glanced at it a moment; then, as if not able to see its writing very well, he crumpled it in his hand, returned it to his vest pocket, removed his spectacles, and proceeded to deliver that ever-memorable Dedicatory Address that has become a classic in our American literature, and which of itself would render the name of Abraham Lincoln immortal! He spoke but seven minutes.  But, before he had spoken five minutes that whole assembled multitude were sobbing, and sympathetic tears were dimming all eyes.  Lincoln’s simple eloquence of heart in speaking of our heroic dead had touched the responsive cords [of] feeling, that Everett’s finished oratory had failed to reach.”[19]

 

By Craig Heberton, October 3, 2015

————————————————————————————————————

[1] This account is based upon and quotes from “Thirteenth Annual Session of the Pennsylvania State Teachers’ Association,” Pennsylvania School Journal, September 1866, vol.15, No. 3, pp. 58-60. It imagines that you are one of the attendees at the session meeting and you have written at least the quoted sections from the above-cited article. I have taken the liberty of describing you as a veteran of the 45th Pennsylvania Regiment who after the war has returned to your job somewhere in Pennsylvania as a schoolteacher. All of the quoted language in this article relating to the Thirteenth Annual Session of the Pennsylvania State Teachers’ Association held in Gettysburg on July 31 and August 2, 1866 is from the published piece in the Pennsylvania School Journal, Vol.15, No. 3 (September 1866) first noted below in footnote 6 unless otherwise indicated.

[2] “You” are a fictitious character throughout this piece whom I have created in the attempt to place the reader into the shoes of a schoolteacher attendee at the Pennsylvania State Teachers’ Association Session in Gettysburg on July 31 and August 1, 1866. You are there primarily to see the battlefield and understand all of the hoopla over its fame. While there, you meet and speak to Rev. Henry L. Baugher, President of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg who gave the closing benediction on the speakers’ stand seconds after Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address;” John L. Burns (the “Hero of Gettysburg”) who likewise was present at the dedication event and walked arm-in-arm with President Lincoln to Gettysburg’s Presbyterian Church after the dedication ceremonies and a public reception at David Wills’ home;  Colonel George Fisher McFarland, who was wounded at Gettysburg on July 1 while covering the First Corps’ retreat and had one of his legs amputated in the halls of the Lutheran Theological Seminary; and Major Henry T. Lee who both served at the Battle of Gettysburg under Doubleday and attended the Gettysburg Soldiers’ Cemetery Dedication event on November 19, 1863. Burns, McFarland, and Lee, among others, serve as your guides, taking you to some of the most dramatic portions of the battlefield and they describe to you what they saw and experienced. On Cemetery Hill, standing in the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, Maj. Lee paints a picture of Lincoln’s address and then reads it in the way he recalls that Lincoln did less than 3 years earlier. Some of what you experience faintly echoes elements of the Gettysburg Cemetery Dedication event. It is a close as you will ever come to having been in Gettysburg on November 19, 1863.

[3] Perhaps there really was a member of the 45th Pennsylvania Regiment who survived the war, took a job as a teacher, and attended the Gettysburg Session of the Pennsylvania State Teachers’ Association held on July 31 to August 1, 1866. However, I’m not aware of such a person. If you do know of someone, by all means, let me know!

[4] Burrows, Thomas H., ed., “Thirteenth Annual Session of the Pennsylvania State Teachers’ Association,” Pennsylvania School Journal, Vol.15, No. 3 (September 1866) at p. 51.

[5] History of Cumberland County and Adams Counties, Pennsylvania (Beers & Co., 1886) at p. 372.

[6] Pennsylvania School Journal, Vol.15, No. 3 (September 1866) at pp. 51-52; Shelley was an advocate of the use of paying teacher incentives to reward quality teaching. See Wickersham, J.P., A History of Education in Pennsylvania, Private and Public Schools (1868) at pp. 8-9.

[7]  Cincinnati Daily Commercial, November 24, 1863.

[8] Baugher’s benediction read: “O Thou King of kings and Lord of lords, God of the nations of the earth, who by Thy kind providence has permitted us to engage in these solemn services, grant us Thy blessing. Bless this consecrated ground, and these holy graves. Bless the President of these United States, and his Cabinet. Bless the Governors and the representatives of the States here assembled with all needed grace to conduct the affairs committed into their hands, to the glory of Thy name, and the greatest good of the people. May this great nation be delivered from treason and rebellion at home, and from the power of enemies abroad. And now may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God our Heavenly Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.”

[9] Not only had McFarland lost his leg, but his other wounded leg caused him great pain. It is presumed that he was transported about by horse-drawn carriage.

[10] http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=15909351; http://berks.pa-roots.com/Biographies/GeorgeFMcFarland.html

[11] Eventually, the wound received in his unamputated leg caused an infection which killed him in 1891. For more on the 151st Pennsylvania, see http://www.civilwar.org/education/teachers/teachers-regiment/trading-rulers-for-rifles.html.

[12] “Colonel McFarland’s Diary Reveals War-School Career,” Gettysburg Times, June 27, 1941; Deese, Michael A., The 151st Pennsylvania Volunteers at Gettysburg: Like Ripe Apples in a Storm at p. 6. For ideas related to teaching about McFarland, see http://www.gettysburglessons.com/blog/george-mcfarland-narrow-your-focus.

[13] McFarland, George F., “The Victory at Gettysburg, the Work of the Teacher,” The Pennsylvania School Journal (October 1866) at pp. 95-96.

[14] https://www.facebook.com/pages/151st-Pennsylvania-Volunteers-Company-D/138961739475266?sk=wall (July 23, 2014 entry on Capt. Owens).

[15] Captain Owens took command of the 151st Pennsylvania after Lt. Colonel McFarland was wounded and later captured. He maintained that command throughout the remaining days of the battle. “Colonel McFarland’s Diary Reveals War-School Career,” Gettysburg Times, June 27, 1941. The 151st was involved in repulsing “Pickett’s Charge” on the final day of battle and surely Captain Owen spoke about what he experienced near the Bloody Angle.

[16] http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=103257557

[17] Major Lee must have been present in Gettysburg on November 19, 1863 in his capacity as an aide on the staff of the then wounded Gen. Abner Doubleday. Doubleday was one of several wounded generals at Gettysburg who attended the dedication event. Lee “was never wounded” during the war, “but at Sutherland’s Station he received seven bullet-holes through his clothing.”

[18] Allen, Isaac Jackson. Memoranda Genealogical and Biographical Of the Allen Family (1904) at p. 25.

[19] http://www.jacksonfamilygenealogy.com/pages/bioIsaacJacksonAllenmemorandum.htm

“The Civil War” by Ken Burns: A NEW BIRTH OF FREEDOM

11 Sep

“The Civil War’s” Episode #5 — “The Universe of Battle – 1863” — is about 1.5 hours long. It begins with the image of a famous photograph by Mathew B. Brady and his team taken in Gettysburg about 10-14 days after the battle’s end.  While showing this picture of three captured (or deserter) Confederate soldiers posing for Brady as if they were paid professionals, Shelby Foote lyrically emotes: “there’s something about that picture that draws me strongly as an image of the war.” Mr. Foote reveals that his fondness comes from his interpretation of the body language of one of the soldiers as that of proud defiance.

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Crammed into the final 6 minutes of the end of that episode is a segment Ken Burns titled “A New Birth of Freedom.”

Despite this segment’s short treatment of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, that particular title has evolved over time into one of the most important themes of the entire movie. Burns has repeated it over and over again in dozens upon dozens of interviews during the last 25 years in order to explain the modern relevancy of both “The Civil War” and the conflict itself.

The opening scene in “A New Birth of Freedom” is video footage of former Missouri Congressman James W. Symington eloquently reflecting that if he:

had a choice of all the moments he could be present at during [the] war period it would be at Gettysburg during Lincoln’s delivery of his speech. Maybe to have seen him craft those beautiful words, those marvelous healing words, and then deliver them. They were for everyone, for all time. They subsumed the entire war and all in it. It showed his compassion for everyone. His love for his people. That’s where I’d like to be.”

I remember watching this 25 years ago and saying out loud to no one in particular: “that, too, is where I would want to be.”

After Symington finishes, David McCullough narrates: “On November 19th, Lincoln traveled to Gettysburg to dedicate the new Union cemetery.”

Oops, a blooper! Lincoln actually traveled to Gettysburg on the 18th and we as a nation are very lucky he did.

Had Lincoln left Washington, D.C. on the morning of the 19th, as Secretary of War Stanton had planned, Lincoln never would have arrived at Gettysburg on time. Yet even if he had been delivered there by divine intervention, Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” would have been very different. Lincoln wouldn’t have rewritten a portion of his speech at David Wills’ home on the night of the 18th or visited a portion of the battlefield by carriage very early on the morning of the 19th, after which he possibly added the last several critical lines of his Address … including the words “a new birth of freedom.”

There also would have been no serenading of Lincoln by the crowds in Gettysburg on the night of the 18th, resulting in Lincoln’s “First” Gettysburg Address. In that very short public address, Lincoln stood by an open doorway and joked that he had no speech to give and therefore, based upon past experience, would not give any. It was this address which many Northern Democrat-owned and Southern newspapers alike reported as Lincoln’s ONE & ONLY Gettysburg Address — for which they mocked Lincoln derisively.

About a minute and half into “A New Birth of Freedom,” we come face-to-face with the print of a very famous photograph. Burns then focuses our attention exclusively on that photo over the next 66 seconds (a capture of the second shot of it from the remastered film in HD, below).

Bachrach-Burns-02

It is a photo which was taken at the sight of the dedication of Gettysburg’s Soldiers’ Cemetery. And it’s original negative, sadly, has been lost to history. Of greatest importance is that it is the only Gettysburg photograph which is universally agreed to show Lincoln [to read about another which may also show Lincoln, click this link]. Yet Lincoln’s appearance within it wasn’t announced until February 11, 1953 after Josephine Cobb of the National Archives tentatively identified Lincoln. A consensus was reached over time that it is him.

Ken Burns used this photograph in three separate and consecutive shots. In the first, he zoomed in on detail to the left, revealing some of the soldiers standing in a hollow square formation. They are turned to face towards the camera and strike a pose (the same detail from an image courtesy of the Library of Congress, at right).

Bachrach-Burns-01ycompareLC

The second frame shows the entire photograph, giving some sense of the scale of the event (but not its full scope) and the distance the photographers were set up from the speakers’ platform and the crowds jammed around Lincoln and others. In its third usage, Burns filmed a very tight shot of an area on the speaker’s platform and had his camera zoom in towards the face of Abraham Lincoln. Here is a capture of Burn’s tightest shot from the remastered film in HD available at www.pbs.org, placed side-by-side with detail from a Library of Congress scan (at right).

Bachrach-Burns-04aLCx

David McCullough narrates the following during the minute plus airing of this photo:

Then Lincoln rose. A local photographer took his time focusing. Presumably the President could be counted on to go for a while. But he spoke just 269 words … Lincoln was heading back to his seat before the photographer could open the shutter.

Just a small faux pas here because the camera those men used was not equipped with a shutter. Rather, an exposure was created simply by removing and replacing a cap over the lens. Crude home-made drop shutter lenses were then a great rarity.

The story Mr. McCullough described is a combination of two accounts published more than 30 years after the event. Those accounts spoke to the presence of a photographer right in front of the platform who failed to take a picture of Lincoln while he stood and spoke. To be clear, neither those accounts nor Mr. McCullough’s narration relate in any way to this photograph.

It was first deduced by William A. Frassanito, to my knowledge, that the photographers who took this image in which Lincoln is discernible were David Bachrach of Baltimore and an undentified cameraman from Harper’s Weekly. I firmly believe that those men might be seen together within detail from a different photograph taken on the grounds of the Gettysburg Soldiers’ Cemetery on November 19, 1863 (see below, courtesy of the Library of Congress). One can be made out (through the limbs of a tree) seated atop a tall folding ladder. He is peering through his camera with his left arm extended while the other man stands near him with a portable darkroom on a tripod. If these men are not Bachrach and the Harper’s Weekly photographer, then they are likely David Woodbury and Anthony Berger (two Mathew Brady photographers). They were first pointed out and described in the book Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg” For more about them, click here for the article “Finding Photographers and Their Equipment in Gettysburg Soldiers’ Cemetery Photos.”

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Bachrach wrote in 1916 that “I took the portable dark-room and [went to Gettysburg], and did the technical work of photographing the crowd, not with the best result while Mr. Everett was speaking.” That is exactly what the photograph used by Ken Burns and showing Lincoln depicts: Edward Everett standing and speaking (see him in blurred detail, below at left).

07639u_BachrachMr. Bachrach made no mention of attempting to photograph Lincoln while he spoke or even after he returned to his seat. It is logical that he would have mentioned it had he done so.

If you wonder what Lincoln was doing the moment he was photographed, take a look at the following and click “Addressing What Lincoln is Doing While Seated on the Platform at Gettysburg.”

object07639uIDsx1

Fell free to share with me what you think.

There’s something about that picture that draws me strongly as an image of the Civil War!

Craig Heberton, September 10, 2015

Ken Burns’ “The Civil War” (1990) Remastered for 2015 and Beyond

7 Sep

If you visit the PBS website at http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/civil-war/ you will find links to the viewing schedule for the remastered 25th anniversary HD version of Ken Burns’ The Civil War at your local PBS affiliate:

“Twenty-five years ago, a film about history made history … From Director Ken Burns, for the first time in high-definition,  “The Civil War,” starts Monday September 7, [2015] at 9:00 pm (8:00 Central) [and concludes on September 11]. Only on PBS.

No historical documentary has ever had the impact of THE CIVIL WAR when it was first broadcast by PBS a quarter of a century ago. More than 40 million people watched its first run. It won more than 40 major television and film awards. Millions more have seen it in classrooms or on videotape.

THE CIVIL WAR, the award-winning film produced and directed by Ken Burns, will be rebroadcast over five consecutive nights … The broadcast, which coincides with the 25th anniversary of the series’ initial broadcast in September 1990, will present for the first time a newly restored, high-definition version. This is also the first time the film will be seen with the same fidelity and framing as the negative that Burns and his co-cinematographers … shot more than 25 years ago.”

The Civil War Defines Who We are Today

Any understanding of this nation has to be based, and I mean really based, on an understanding of the Civil War. And I believe that firmly. The Revolution did what it did. Our involvement in European wars beginning with the First World War did what they did. But the Civil War defined us as what we are and it opened us to being what we became … good and bad things …  and it is very necessary if you are going to understand the American character in the [21st] century to learn about this enormous catastrophe of the mid-nineteenth century. It was the cross-roads of our being … and it was a hell of a crossroads.”   — Shelby Foote, Historian, quoted in Episode 1 of The Civil War (pictured below, left, with Ken Burns, c. 1990, courtesy of Florentine Films)

ken burns shelby foote

Why Watch the Remastered Film “The Civil War?”

Today’s audiences expect sharper images and richer sound—so much sharper and richer that no one 25 years ago could have imagined the improvements we now take for granted. To reach a whole new audience with the story of America’s greatest crisis, and to offer those who have already seen the series a far more compelling experience, we decided to completely restore the series to ultra high definition4K resolution—to bring it up to the standards that current audiences demand

The 4K film scans capture every nuance of detail in the sharpest focus in the photographs, stock footage, interviews, and live material that are the basic building blocks of the series’ visuals

Visually, THE CIVIL WAR is now rock steady, sharper in focus, cleaner, and with a greatly enhanced visual beauty. The color is now as it was intended to be when the film was originally shot. The still photographs all have been assigned a variety of black-and-white or sepia tones that correspond to the intended emotional effect of the sequences. There is also 10 percent more image area than in the previous version, which was cropped out due to the 4:3 square broadcast.”   — Paul Barnes, Lead Editor of “The Civil War” [emphasis added]

The Starring Role of Civil War Photography in the Film

THE CIVIL WAR was five years in the making. The film vividly embraces the entire sweep of the war: the complex causes and lasting effects of America’s greatest and most moving calamity, the battles and the homefronts, the generals and the private soldiers, the anguish of death in battle and the grief of families at home. 

Archival images of 16,000 photographs, taken from a total of 1 million pictures of the Civil War, along with period paintings, lithographs, and headlines, were combined with moving newsreel footage of Civil War veterans, evocative live cinematography of the now quiet battle sites, interviews with distinguished historians, and the inclusion of first-person accounts.” http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/civil-war/about/about-overview/

The Strengths of the Original Film

The Civil War documentary which first aired in 1990 represents the coming together of many great elements of documentary film-making.  For starters, it offers up a “national treasure trove” of narrators and voices such as: David McCullough (to whom I could listen all day long), Sam Waterston as Abraham Lincoln, Morgan Freeman as Frederick Douglass, Jason Robards as Ulysses S. Grant, Garrison Keillor as Walt Whitman, Arthur Miller as William Tecumseh Sherman, George Black as Robert E. Lee, Horton Foote as Jefferson Davis, Jody Powell as Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, Julie Harris as Mary Chesnut, Paul Roebling as Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Christopher Murney as Elisha Hunt Rhodes, Charley McDowell as Sam Watkins, and Studs Terkel as Gen. Benjamin Butler.

They dramatically breathe life into the actual words penned or spoken by their real-life characters a century and a half ago.

The film’s telling of the story of the Civil War relies heavily on the words of many of the most famous (as well as some of the more obscure) figures involved in the conflict. But Burns also strategically interjects clips of distinguished historians ruminating about key personalities, battles, triumphs, tragedies, strategies, anecdotes, political machinations, higher purposes, and how the Civil War relates to and continues to impact modern times.  Those historians serve as the modern glue which holds the entirety of the work together.

Say what you will about the music. Some people love the song “Ashokan Farewell” which is played numerous times (25) during the series. Others hate it.  Many don’t realize it was composed in 1982. Even though it is the only modern music used in the series,  it is the tune most identified with Ken Burns’ masterpiece. But it isn’t the film’s only music by any stretch. “Battle Cry of Freedom” and “Bonnie Blue Flag” are two other very catchy period songs which immediately come to mind. And don’t forget about the tremendous sound effects.

But what resonates the most within the film’s nine episodes is its sweeping visual impact thanks in large measure to Ken Burn’s heavy reliance upon images from surviving Civil War photographs and sketches. Although there is some incredibly stunning video — particularly clips from the Gettysburg veterans’ anniversary reunions in 1913 and 1938 as well as  beautiful modern color footage — Burns’ videographers relied almost exclusively upon 1860s photographs. Repeatedly, they zoom-in upon astonishing photographic details in magnificent data-laden wet-plate collodion slides and prints created by men associated with Mathew B. Brady, Alexander Gardner, Andrew J. Russell, George N. Barnard, the Anthonys, Sam A. Cooley, George S. Cook, and others. Unfortunately, 1990 technology made it difficult to quickly discern those details in the original release.

The film’s restorer, Daniel J. White, has promised that within the 2015 HD version “new details will become visible in the hundreds of black-and-white photos used in the film.” Let’s hope so! But also be aware that super hi-resolution scans of the vast majority of photographs used in The Civil War can be viewed online and downloaded sometimes in .tiff files up to 100 to 200 megs in size at the Library of Congress, the National Archives, the National Portrait Gallery, and other institutions.

Because the vast majority of Civil War photographs were taken by photographers living in the “North,” those images offer the richest source of photographic history. Yet Burns’ team still made every effort to film many images taken by southern photographers too.

It should come as no surprise that the surviving photographs don’t always dovetail perfectly with the story-line for The Civil War, particularly relative to the underrepresented western theater of the war. Lacking “on the money” imagery to visually drive home a point, Burns understandably was compelled at times to rely upon photographs unequivalent to the time, place, and/or subject matter addressed by the film’s narrator. In fairness, in some instances no one knows for sure when or where or by whom specific photos were taken because the photographers usually left no records of such and historians haven’t yet solved those mysteries.

But had Civil War photographs played an even more central role in defining the story-line of the film, Ken Burns might have devoted a few minutes to explain the basics of outdoor Civil War photography —  including that nearly 3/4 of the photos were shot so that they can be viewed today in 3D. Despite the cumbersome tasks that befell outdoor photographers in the 1860s and the limitations of their slow exposure technology, the thousands of Civil War photographs they managed to take allow us, several generations later, to “see” and get a “visual feel” for the war which cost us more American lives than the sum total of all of the other conflicts in which Americans have been engaged both before and ever since.

What Is Supposed to Look Better in the Remastered Film

In a September 4, 2015 Washington Post blog article titled “25 years after ‘The Civil War,’ Ken Burns finally made his dream movie” by Alyssa Rosenberg,  there is an illustration of the quality improvement in the new version of “The Civil War.” Ken Burns and his restorer, Daniel J. White, have said that a “murkiness” in many images will be replaced by clearer, more realistic looking scenes. A frame from modern footage of the Burnside Bridge (originally called Rohrbach’s or Lower Bridge) at the Antietam National Battlefield was used to highlight the “before” and “after” differences (see below).

Before-after KB Burnside Bridge, Anitetam Battlefield NP

What I’m most looking forward to seeing is the improvement in the quality of the Civil War photographs used in the film.

In the The Washington Post article, Mr. Burns highlighted the impact of significantly improved photographic imagery by noting the film’s use of an image of Lincoln posing with General McClellan in a tent in early October 1862 near Sharpsburg, MD two weeks after the Battle of Antietam.  Photographer Alexander Gardner’s men took this and other images in that locale to chronicle Lincoln’s visit to the Commander of the Army of the Potomac, George B. McClellan. At the time of the visit, Lincoln was greatly disappointed by McClellan’s failure to pursue General Lee’s numerically inferior forces after repelling them at Antietam Creek on September 17. Lincoln wanted McClellan to destroy or capture the Army of Northern Virginia. McClellan, on the other hand, thought he should be congratulated for the Antietam “victory” and that Lincoln should defer to his military judgment not to pursue Lee in the aftermath of the single bloodiest day in American history.

Alyssa Rosenberg wrote that “it’s now possible to read President Abraham Lincoln and Gen. George McClellan’s facial expressions in a snapshot of the two men taken during the meeting at which Lincoln fired his top commander.” To be more precise, Ken Burns was quoted as saying:  

You can now see in the pictures of them in the tent the tension between them. Now, it may have been apparent in the previous images because of the quality of the writing, whatever the music and the sound effects were suggesting, but now you’ve taken away that veil and you’re permitted to see that interpersonal dynamic, and suddenly you can understand McClellan’s kind of combination of arrogant distance from Lincoln and Lincoln’s exasperation, and the fact that his sorry butt is going to be axed in a couple of moments is terrific.” (detail from two views at the Library of Congress, LC-B811- 602 and LC-B817- 7948, below)

LC-B811- 602 01131ax3  LC-B817- 7948 04351ax

My own take on the Lincoln-McClellan “tent” photographs is a bit less dramatic, especially in view of the vagaries of outdoor photography in 1862 as well as Lincoln’s record of posing before the camera. For starters, Lincoln did not relieve McClellan of his command of the Army of the Potomac until November 5, 1862, more than a month after these “tent” poses were taken. Although there surely was tension between Lincoln and McClellan throughout their relationship and Lincoln visited McClellan to try to cajole him into action, I think Mr. Burns reads too much into his interpretation of Lincoln’s face and body language by suggesting that there is palpable “exasperation” on Lincoln’s face.

Perhaps it can be said that McClellan’s face or attitude betrays some form of “arrogant distance,” but I think even that overplays the simple fact that McClellan’s paramount concern during the picture taking session was to look squarely at Lincoln with his “I am the commander” look and hold his pose for several seconds. For that matter, I have not seen any photographs of McClellan in uniform in which he didn’t try to look “dashing” or “authoritative;” he surely didn’t earn the moniker “Young Napoleon” for nothing (examples, below, courtesy of the Library of Congress).

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The Alexander Gardner photographic team prepared the glass plate for each of the Lincoln-McClellan photographs shortly before they were created. It would have taken them about 5 minutes of time to do so, followed by another 5 minutes to complete the development of each specific negative shortly thereafter [I believe the Gardner team simultaneously prepared the two negative plates used for the creation of these photos]. In other words, sitting for a photograph was a lengthy process by today’s standards, especially for an ultra-busy and fidgety President who was in the midst of prosecuting a war which hadn’t been going too well up to that point. The two images captured by the photographers were not candid snapshots. The technology which then existed required the men to be posed and to hold their poses.

In the first photograph of Lincoln seated in the tent with McClellan (above), Alexander Gardner situated the Commander-in-Chief slightly forward of McClellan and likely asked Lincoln not to gaze directly at McClellan. To make the scene as patriotic looking as possible, Lincoln was posed next to a table draped with the American flag upon which his stovepipe hat rested between two candlesticks. It needs to be understood that Lincoln never looked completely comfortable when he was photographed. As Ohio politician Donn Piatt recalled, Lincoln “had a face that defied artistic skill to soften or idealize.” Writes Harold Holzer, “photographs did little to disguise Lincoln’s sometimes vacant expression, his so-called photographer’s face.” Lloyd Ostendorf describes Lincoln’s “photographer’s face” in the following manner:

Whenever Lincoln posed, a dark melancholy settled over his features. He put on what Mrs. Lincoln called his ‘photographer’s face.’ There is no camera study which shows him laughing, for such an attitude, unfortunately, was impossible when long exposures were required. A man who knew Lincoln, Dr. James Miner, commented: ‘His large bony face when in repose was unspeakably sad and as unreadable as that of a sphinx, his eyes were as expressionless as those of a dead fish’” (emphasis added)

It is THAT “photographer’s face” which I see particularly in the first photograph — Lincoln with vacant and expressionless eyes gazing off into the distance. I detect no palpable tension in Lincoln’s face, although he surely felt some discomfort over posing rigidly during each of the several second exposures (perhaps for as long as 5 to 10 seconds as betrayed by the flag blurred by the movement of a breeze and the piece of paper blown up against the bottom of Lincoln’s chair in the second view).

Lincoln-McClellan-tent Antietam

McClellan’s gaze is locked onto Lincoln’s face in both views. In the first, the General sat with his left hand relaxed on his leg and a cigar perched in that hand. But in the second, when Lincoln presumably was directed by Alexander Gardner to look McClellan straight in the eye, McClellan sat up straighter in his chair and leaned slightly forward so his face wasn’t partially in the sunlight. You might conclude that his demeanor was a bit more attentive and even respectful (for example, his cigar can no longer be seen).

macLC-x

McClellan looks somewhat less comfortable in that second photo. But his slight discomfort probably had little to do with Lincoln’s gaze. Alex Gardner likely directed him to bring his face completely into the shadows — so that it wouldn’t be bisected half-in and half-out of the sunlight as occurred in the first view. Lincoln, on the other hand, did not do anything between the exposures other than execute a slight turn of his head in order to look directly at McClellan’s face. Yet, in profile he still affected his “photographer’s face;” kind of like a poker-face expression. If anything, Lincoln’s appearance and demeanor in the second view might be described as “cool as a cucumber.”LC-B817- 7948 04351az

Watch for the appearance of the second “tent” photograph in Episode 3, “Forever Free.” When you see it, realize that Ken Burns in 1990 did not have access to the ultra-high resolution digital scans I have used in this piece. The quality of the photographs which he then filmed with his 16mm camera just wasn’t anything like what can be seen today. His 2015 edition is the product of remastering that original 16mm film stock. It does not utilize today’s digital scans of what are presumed to be first or early generation glass plate negatives. Without criticizing or taking away anything from Ken Burn’s Civil War masterpiece, I think the best way to answer what the faces of men like Lincoln project or betray in 150+ year old photographs is to look at their modern day digital scans.

Craig Heberton, September 7, 2015

[Stay tuned for updates after episodes of the 2015 remastered The Civil War run over the course of the next several days]

If You Like the Improvement in Civil War Photo Quality, Check This Out …

If you are finding the Civil War photographs used in the 2015 remastered version of  “The Civil War” to be a significant step forward in improved quality, you might want to watch Burns’ short video “Restoring the Film” at http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/civil-war/ which explains the restoration process. Here is a capture of one of the examples used in that video. It is a “before-and-after” vidcap of detail within a photograph of “Fighting Joe” Hooker, a Union General who briefly commanded the Army of the Potomac. The “before” version is on the right side; the “after” on the left.

Ken Burns_Restoration examples in video-02

Ken Burns explains in the video that within the Civil War photographs, you now can see that “the whites are whiter and the blacks are deeper and richer.” His restorers also elaborate that this is so because the digital scanning process applied to the original film stock allowed them to manipulate the contrast in order to enhance details within the original photographs which were filmed by Burns and his team in 16mm.

But if you want to see the same image in even more amazing detail on your computer screen, go to the source which houses the original print image — the Library of Congress — and see and download (if you are inclined) at their website a 104.7 megabyte .tiff file of the print.  You can find it here. Now place detail of Hooker from that Library of Congress scan next to the restored Ken Burns image. After some of my own photo editing work, here is what they look like side-by-side. The details in Hooker’s face are substantially better revealed in the Library of Congress scan.

LC-B8184-10366compare2

However, the most impressive details to be seen within super hi-res scans at the Library of Congress collection are those made from the glass plate negatives in its collection or housed at the National Archives. The General Hooker example, above, is from a print so there are limitations in the amount of detail that even very high resolution scans can extract from such an old print.

Craig Heberton, September 9, 2015

It’s Lincoln or Bust!

5 Jul

Whenever I read of a newly discovered photograph of a famous historical figure or the image of a legendary name hidden in a well known old photograph, my attention is grabbed.  After which, my next usual impulse is to evaluate whether the discovery is for real.

For a few moments the other day, my attention was grabbed.

I happened to review a positive digital image of a photographic plate at the National Archives labeled 111-B-5152. You can see it here at: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/529258?q=111-B-5152. The photograph clearly was taken in the Washington, D.C. studio of Mathew B. Brady.

Landscape

At first blush, the image was of no special interest to me. It is titled “Gen. Francis Preston Blair, Jr. and staff of fifteen” by the National Archives. Although undated, the photo clearly was shot sometime after November 1862 when Blair was promoted to Major General. A second star insignia on Blair’s right shoulder strap is barely visible, denoting his rank.

The Blair House of Politics

A Princeton College graduate, Blair was born in Lexington, KY in 1821 and engaged in politics in Missouri after establishing his legal practice in St. Louis.  He became a dominant Republican in his home state and oversaw efforts to elect Lincoln in 1860 because, among other things, Blair was opposed to the further expansion of slavery.  He also served several terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before and during the Civil War. He is “credited with being the principal leader in saving Missouri for the Union in 1861.”[i] His father, Francis Preston Blair, Sr. was a mover-and-shaker in the creation of the Republican Party in 1854 (Hal Holbrook portrayed his father in Steven Spielberg’s movie Lincoln (2012)). His parents’ home in Washington, D.C. is still known as the Blair House and has served as the President’s Guest House since the U.S. government bought it during World War II. Francis P. Blair, Jr.’s brother Montgomery Blair, served as Postmaster-General in Lincoln’s cabinet for several years. Thus, at the time of the Civil War, the Blairs, perhaps, were as prominent and powerful of a political family as existed.

Francis Preston Blair, Jr.’s distinguished military service during the Civil War — including at Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and under Gen. Sherman in the “March to the Sea” — only made him more popular before the war’s end. [ii] Ulysses S. Grant wrote this about Frank Blair in July 1861: “There was no man braver than he, nor was there any who obeyed all orders of his superior in rank with more unquestioning alacrity.”[iii]

Or I’ll Eat My …

Scanning the National Archive’s  image, something in the foreground along the left-hand margin caught my attention.  “Is there someone lurking in the shadows?,” I blurted out loud to no one in particular.  Zooming in, I saw the nearly all-white profile of a face and part of an upper torso. Its appearance led me to conclude that  it must be a sculpted bust resting on a pedestal … and that it looked like Abraham Lincoln (detail, below, of the apparent bust).

Landscape

Comparing Lincoln’s profile in a photo taken by Anthony Berger in Brady’s Washington studio on February 9, 1864 to the fuzzy & out-of-focus profile in 111-B-5152, revealed the following:

profile cf O-89 cf

So then I wondered, “is there any possibility that this might be Lincoln himself?” Lincoln visited Brady’s studio on several occasions during his presidency. Surely it was possible that Lincoln might have visited the studio on the same day that Brady’s studio manager, Anthony Berger, was creating photographs of the president’s political ally, Major General Frank P. Blair, Jr., of the powerful conservative faction of the Republican Party? Might Lincoln have arrived early, peeked in on Blair, placed his fidgety right arm and hand atop a pedestal, and accidentally photo-bombed the last seconds of a photo shoot? Reaching my own conclusions, I nevertheless decided to turn to several Civil War photo enthusiasts for their input.  In a cover message, I wrote:

“assuming its Lincoln’s profile, is it a bust or the real man? I’m not sure. But to me it looks possible that there is an arm with a fidgety hand perched on the pedestal.  Not quite sure what the white blob is. So I cannot say it is definitively a bust.”

The first gentleman to respond proclaimed — ” Well that’s damned interesting!  … I’m speechless (for now).” Three hours later he wrote:

Here’s what I see. Abraham Lincoln is standing behind an open door to Brady’s studio … He’s holding a book in his right hand. The binding is facing in our direction. The object overlaying the book is Lincoln’s right hand, which is moving in front of the door’s brass door knob. The President has just entered the room unannounced, as the exposure finished up … If this were a bust, we’d see the table on which it must sit. The bright object seen below the visible portion of Lincoln’s shirt may be his watch.”

But soon he messaged the group that he had found a variant view of General Blair posing at Brady’s studio with the same men within the Library of Congress’ collection, identified as  LC-BH831- 575 (see below), and added — ” if this is not Lincoln’s distinctive profile, I’ll eat my (fill in the blank).” Oh!,” I exclaimed, as I wondered out loud what object he would consume if we were to conclude it wasn’t Lincoln’s profile — perhaps a stove pipe hat?

LC-BH831- 575 03120a[0]

The variant view clearly shows Gen. Blair and his staff posing at Brady’s studio on the same day. In fact the camera position and the space framed is identical. But that view doesn’t seem to show the Lincoln-appearing white image in profile on the extreme left edge of the plate. This observation caused some more preliminary “thinking out loud” speculation in support of the supposition that President Lincoln may have photo-bombed 111-B-5152.

Yet the discovery of the variant LC-BH831- 575 view ultimately helped the group answer my initial question, but only after we navigated through several other prickly minefields.

For starters, another Civil War photography expert asked, “seriously if that is Lincoln [in the flesh] wouldn’t his beard be dark?” I wrote in reply that perhaps his face and dark hair and beard were all washed out because we were seeing a “ghost image” caused by movement during the course of a multi-second studio exposure, enhanced by the face being out of focus and in bright, direct sunlight from an unseen skylight above.  Maybe it was possible that Lincoln had moved partially into view only at the tail-end of the exposure. The more a person moved, the more their features could be distorted in a wet-plate collodion exposure. Also, the shorter the time period one appeared in an several second exposure (which may have reached something like ten seconds in Brady’s studio), the more washed out their image might appear (examples, below — “Ghost image” of a (twinned) boy in motion at Gettysburg’s Soldiers’ Cemetery, November 19, 1863, from LC-B815- 1159; a boy outside Castle Thunder, Richmond, Va., April 1865,  from LC-B811- 3362):

04063u_crop outside Castle Thunder, a tobacco warehouse converted into a prison. Richmond, VA, 1865

But the problem of interpreting much of what is seen on the extreme left side of the 111-B-5152 and explaining why it differed from the same area in LC-BH831- 575 remained unanswered. Moreover, a quick search didn’t yield the same Lincoln-like profile, let alone a bust of Lincoln, in any other Brady studio photos, again hinting that what appeared in the left-hand margin of 111-B-5152 might be someone’s fleeting appearance and not a bust perched in Brady’s studio. Ultimately, however, the ” I’ll eat my (fill in the blank)” researcher soon noted something which had also dawned upon me.

He realized that a piece of tape placed on the negative plate for LC-BH831- 575 had prevented us from recognizing that the extreme left of LC-BH831- 575 almost certainly was identical to the same area in 111-B-5152. What I initially thought was a highly illuminated area in LC-BH831- 575 had resulted from someone covering the plate with tape which made that area look white after the plate was scanned and the negative was turned into a positive image (see detail below, right). In fact, on our first pass we had failed to notice a much smaller piece of tape placed in the upper left-hand corner of  111-B-5152 which produced the same effect (see detail below, left). A side-by-side comparison of detail within 111-B-5152 and LC-BH831- 575 reveals that if we could remove the tape from LC-BH831- 575’s plate, what apparently is Lincoln’s bust would be visible in it too:

zprofile3

The apparent bust of Lincoln, moreover, probably was on a pedestal or table behind what was likely a screen and hadn’t moved at all between the shooting of the two photos (which could have been several minutes apart because of the long prep time needed to prepare a glass plate negative for use). Our intrepid “I’ll eat my …” researcher determined that the bust likely was a form of “Parian Ware,” a process, he explained, “of mass producing statuary, designed to imitate carved marble …  a fellow called Martin Milmore apparently was on the cutting edge of [producing this] around the time of our Gen. Blair group shot. It’s not unreasonable to think that Brady might have owned one of Milmore’s Lincoln busts, which he produced and signed. Christies sold one in 2009 for $4,750.” The same gentleman created the following marked interpretation of 111-B-5152:

LC-BH831- 575_stuff[1]

Other clues revealed a possible date for when the photographs were taken. They are:

  1. The officer in the top row, second from the left, apparently could no longer button his coat;
  2. The presumed officer in the top row, second from the right, was out of uniform; and
  3. A few of the officers are wearing a black or dark mourning ribbon or band tied on their left arms (marked, below).

LC-BH831- 575 03120asashdetail

These clues suggest that the Civil War was over (at least the Appomattox Courthouse surrender had occurred) and Lincoln had been assassinated. Many soldiers presumably wore black mourning bands or sashes to mark the murder of their President when Lincoln’s funeral procession passed through Washington, D.C. on April 19, 1865. The Daily National Republican of April 17, 1865 reported that Secretary Stanton had ordered the military to wear the badge of mourning on the left arm. The same symbol of mourning and remembrance was tied to soldiers’ arms in other cities to which Lincoln’s catafalque traveled, including New York City. See also, https://www.flickr.com/photos/110677094@N05/14977153225/. Some soldiers likely chose to wear those arm bands during the Grand Review of the Union Army which occurred in Washington, D.C. on May 23-24, 1865. Although there are reports in the historical record that the city of Washington no longer was in formal mourning for Lincoln as of the time of the Grand Review of the Union Army, some photos show flags at half mast and specific buildings decked out in black mourning crepe (e.g., LC-B8184-7748, below, captioned “Washington, D.C. Spectators at side of the Capitol, which is hung with crepe and has flag at half-mast during the ‘grand review’ of the Union Army”). In Proclamation No. 129, President Johnson declared May 25, 1865 to be “a day of humiliation and mourning” for Lincoln but later postponed that date until June 1st.LC-B8184-7748 23873ux

Gen. Blair and his officers, as members of Sherman’s Army, would have participated in the Grand Review on May 24. This may explain why they were all gathered together in the nation’s capitol, that some wore mourning bands during the photo session, and their boots were outfitted with spurs for riding possibly in the procession. See below, for example, LC-USZ62-1770, an 1865 copyrighted image of General Ulysses S. Grant posing for Frederick Gutekunst while wearing a mourning sash tied onto his left arm said to be in honor of President Lincoln (courtesy of the Library of Congress).

LC-USZ62-1770 by Gutekunst

Thus, the date of the photo session may have been on or about May 23, 24, or 25, 1865, near the time that Blair and his staff rode in the Grand Review and when the nation still collectively mourned for Abraham Lincoln.

We don’t know to whom the apparent bust of Lincoln belonged or why it was placed where it would appear in the outer fringes of the negative. Perhaps the bust wasn’t a fixture in the Brady studio and General Blair had recently purchased it. If so, I’d like to think that the General desired to take it back home with him to better remember his fallen commander-in-chief.

So in about 24 hours, our little group concluded that a bust of Lincoln probably had made two unexpected appearances in Brady studio photographs. Not quite on par with spotting a new photographic image of Abraham Lincoln in the flesh-and-blood, but a very cool “profile of Lincoln” discovery, nonetheless.

Unless someone else shows us to the contrary within the next 24 hours, no stove-pipe hats will be eaten.

by Craig Heberton IV, July 5, 2015

———————————————————————————————————-

[i] William E. Parrish, Frank Blair: Lincoln’s Conservative (1998) (dust cover)

[ii] http://www.civilwarmo.org/educators/resources/info-sheets/francis-preston-blair-jr; http://history.house.gov/People/Listing/B/BLAIR,-Francis-Preston,-Jr–(B000523)/ http://www.mrlincolnswhitehouse.org/inside.asp?ID=129&subjectID=2; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Preston_Blair,_Jr.

[iii] Parrish, Frank Blair: Lincoln’s Conservative (1998), at p. 174.

Ancestry.com’s Leafy Depiction of Photographing the Gettysburg Address

25 Oct

Have you seen the Ancestry.com commercial which “virtually recreates” the scene at the dedication of the Gettysburg Soldiers’ Cemetery on November 19, 1863? It’s pretty cool. If you haven’t, CLICK HERE to watch it.

I’m sure a number of people who have seen this commercial have checked out Ancestry.com. As someone who has used that service, I can vouch for it as a powerful digital research tool for one’s family tree. With the 151st anniversary of the Gettysburg Address fast approaching, we undoubtedly will continue to see this commercial in numerous television and internet spots. As these kinds of advertisements go, Ancestry’s digital recreation of one of America’s most compelling historical events is visually stunning even though it is littered with many troubling historical inaccuracies. But why let history get in the way of making an aesthetically pleasing commercial designed to induce people to subscribe to a service?

Leaf 02

Having seen the commercial, you surely noticed a digitally enhanced Abraham Lincoln standing by a table on a single-level platform delivering his Gettysburg Address, surrounded on the rostrum by a sparse, numerically unimpressive group of dignitaries. The advert also depicts a large, low slung white tent, off to the side, facing the speakers’ platform. In the direction of that tent, standing on an elevated position above the ground-level spectators, is a photographer — the ancestral “star” of the commercial — who aims his tripod-mounted camera at Lincoln’s sun-illuminated side profile. The photographer’s view of his prize is completely unimpeded.

Leaf 00

Several seconds into the commercial, a gentle breeze whimsically blows an Ancestry.com “leaf” from the screen of a laptop held by a woman searching nearly 151 years into the past to a scene representing a portion of the battlefield where the Gettysburg Soldiers’ Cemetery was dedicated. Soon thereafter, the animated leaf loops its way towards Lincoln’s face and then away from the speakers’ platform, dragging the viewer’s perspective along with it over to the photographer and his camera positioned on top of an open wagon. The sight of the dancing leaf instantly reminded me of the dancing feather imagery used in the movie Forrest Gump — the greatest modern day depiction of a man seemingly unequipped for greatness, but who repeatedly does great deeds all the while crossing paths with the most famous people at the most historic events of his time. But I digress. Meanwhile, the Ancestry ad’s narrator melodically describes the leaf icon as a sort of metaphorical representation of a helping aid employed by Ancestry.com to guide its subscribers on a journey to their “past filled with stories that intrigue and inspire, and, in doing so, reveal the one unique, improbable, and completely remarkable path that led to YOU. [So] discover your story by searching for free now at Ancestry.com.” Soft, pleasing music accompanies the spot throughout, reminding me again of the final “feather” scene in Forrest Gump. It is just a brilliantly crafted and conceived ad!

During this narrated segment, as the viewer’s perspective pans to the right, the photographer’s head pops up from behind his camera just before he moves to the side and lifts the cap off its single lens in order to expose a presumably magnificent image of Lincoln giving his most famous oration.

leaf 10

All the while, the focus upon the cameraman continues to tighten until superimposed graphics appear above his head revealing his identity and vital statistics. At the commercial’s conclusion, the photographer’s descendant is shown in the present day closing her laptop and swelling with pride after her search on Ancestry.com revealed that it was HER forefather who photographed Lincoln delivering the immortal Gettysburg Address seven score and eleven years ago. Wow! Imagine discovering it was one of your ancestor’s who did THAT!

leaf 09

It was at that moment, during my first viewing of the ad in the midst of a commercial break from the PBS show “Finding Your Roots,” that I moved my face closer to the television screen and squinted in order to try to make out the photographer’s superimposed name. Not only was I was extremely excited to see a Civil War era photographer depicted as an ancestor in whom one should take GREAT, GREAT PRIDE, but I wondered to myself which known photographer’s name Ancestry would choose for the advert. Would they flash on the screen “Alexander Gardner,” the Washington, D.C.-based genius whose team of photographers created the only known pictures taken anywhere remotely close to the general vicinity depicted in the commercial? Or would Ancestry select Baltimore’s “David Bachrach,” the photographer whom William Frassanito believes most likely took the only known image of Lincoln on the Gettysburg speakers’ platform? Or how about “Anthony Berger” or “David Woodbury,” the two Mathew Brady photographers whose dedication ceremony images somehow have gone missing with the passage of time? Surely Ancestry wouldn’t hit us with a dark-horse local candidate like “Peter S. Weaver,” who took at least one and maybe two long-range images of the ceremony, or one of the Tyson brothers (not the fellows with the chicken business, but the brothers who had a photography studio in Gettysburg).

When my eyes finally came into focus on the photographer’s name and his vital statistics, it read:

FREDRIC MILLER (1829-1885), husband of Susan Hutton (1833-1889).

Wait a second. Fredric Miller? Who the heck is Fredric Miller and the genealogist in me wants to know how is it that he and his wife both died at the age of 56?

Leaf 07

If you have used Ancestry.com’s search engine in an effort to find this “Fredric Miller,” then you are aware that no one by that name is known to have photographed the dedication ceremony, let alone Lincoln’s delivery of the Gettysburg Address. Moreover, no photos of Lincoln orating or even standing on the rostrum at Gettysburg are known to exist. The brevity of Honest Abe’s speech is credited for the failure of photographers then present to capture such an image. In fact, I am not aware of the existence of any prominent or obscure professional photographer named “Frederic Miller” during the entire Civil War. If Ancestry ever proves me wrong, I’ll be quick to dole out mea culpas. But until then, I think that Snopes.com should pronounce this guy a fake.

So what did I really think of this ad? On the one hand, I learned that a company in the business of helping people find accurate information about their past has elected to market itself by making up a fake name for a photographer, placing that fellow where no photographer is known to have situated his camera, and then depicting him taking a photographic image of Lincoln orating at Gettysburg despite the fact that no such image is known to exist. I can only surmise that the Ancestry Legal Department instructed its Marketing Department that it is wiser to depict a fictitious person engaged in a fictitious act of photographing Lincoln at a very famous historic event rather than risk being sued by the descendants of a real photographer who might claim that Ancestry is unfairly profiting from the use of their ancestor’s name and image. Perhaps visions of suits by image copyright holders also served as further motivation. When in doubt, fictionalize.

On the other hand, I’m more or less at ease with Ancestry’s aesthetically pleasing commercial despite their failure to depict the scene accurately and to identify one of the REAL PHOTOGRAPHERS at the Gettysburg dedication on November 19, 1863. Although it is hard for me to ignore blatant historical inaccuracies, I have to admit that the commercial wildly succeeded in calling attention to how we should celebrate and take pride in those cameramen (many of whom still are not properly credited 150+ years later) who played critical roles in capturing historic events on glass plate negative slides during America’s bloody Civil War. Anyone lucky enough to discover family connections to the people who toiled to create the photo-historical record of Gettysburg in November 1863 have every reason to be supremely proud of their ancestor.

— Craig Heberton, October 25, 2014

 

Note: The images herein are used under the doctrine of fair use for the purpose of commentary

 

 

Saving Annie Leibovitz: Her Pilgrimage to Anthony Berger’s Lincoln

27 Jul

 NARA 530206a-positive

Girl, Interrupted

The photographer Annie Leibovitz is best known for her magazine shoots of actors, rock stars, models, politicians, and other luminaries appearing on the covers of old-line vanguard publications such as Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and Vogue. Her many photographic successes long ago vaulted her into the same exclusive club occupied by many of her subjects — celebrityhood. In more recent years, however, Ms. Leibovitz’s life experiences have sent her veering off in dramatically different directions.

The Big Bounce (Back)

First came the publication of her deeply personal and introspective book titled A Photographer’s Life 1990-2005 (2006), which Sarah Boxer describes as:

“an unholy mix of celebrity portraits and snapshots from her private life, including pictures of herself and of [Susan] Sontag without clothes, of her family members dying and being born, of the hotels she stayed in and the real estate she owned, of herself pregnant at age fifty-one and, most famously, of Sontag laid out on her deathbed in a crinkly black dress. It was a tombstone of a book, heavy, gloomy, and unsettling.”[i]

Rebounding from that controversial publication, the deaths of family members and her partner Sontag, as well as her own personal bankruptcy — all of which severely tested her — Annie Leibovitz began a long-distance pilgrimage, of sorts. Along the way she traveled to many destinations on a photo assignment for no one other than herself. As she embarked on that journey an objective came into focus: to visually capture the power of, and stories behind, historic objects and locations which resonated with her — something more akin to her September 2001 images of Ground Zero, but executed in a far more up-close and personal fashion. At times she found herself moved to tears by objects which once belonged to dynamically creative and larger-than-life figures whom she reveres (including women such as Georgia O’Keefe, Marian Anderson, Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, and Louisa May Alcott).

Night (and Day) at the Museum

Her favorite and most compelling photographs of objects from her travels hither and yon were placed in a book she aptly titled Pilgrimage (2011), the text to which she wrote with the help of Sharon DeLano. Scenes taken in places such as Gettysburg, which Leibovitz first visited as a child, also are represented.

The book has spawned several exhibitions of the photographs appearing on its pages, including at several institutions known less for their works of art than their displays of historically compelling objects and images, such as the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. Presently, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, IL is hosting an “Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage” exhibition through August 31, 2014.

To Save A Life

Ms. Leibovitz’s description of her underlying motivation for the book reveals that Pilgrimage just as easily could have been christened “Salvation:”

“I NEEDED to save myself. I needed to remind myself of what I like to do, what I can do … There was a spiritual aspect to this journey at first. It didn’t stay at that level — because I began to feel better. But somehow, it saved me to go into other worlds.”[ii]

So how exactly did photographing anything other than living people “save” Annie Leibovitz and in what way did this open up new worlds to her? Leibovitz’s several interviews explain how she came to the realization that an inert object with a storyline or context connecting it to an inspirational historical figure can metaphorically “speak” to us, the living, on a very personal level. She also concluded that it was possible to photograph those objects in a way that would allow others to form their own powerful connections to them and the famous people to whom they once belonged.

Deep Impact

Ms. Leibovitz’s insights, interestingly, emerged at a time that physical objects from our nation’s past are losing much of their appeal, especially to the youngest generations of digitally-obsessed Americans. To the historically challenged, old objects merely represent “stuff” that is irrelevant to their lives and symbolically linked to a past they often care little to know. Perhaps Ms. Leibovitz’s photographs and accompanying narrative in Pilgrimage will arouse their curiosity to explore exactly why for several years a famed photographer NEEDED to focus her camera on historical objects rather than the hottest celebrity de jure. In Leibovitz’s own words:

“I had to learn to photograph objects. We don’t know [a famous person like] Thoreau, do we? We have only his work, and his things. When I first saw the cane bed he slept on, I was so overwhelmed, I didn’t know how to deal with it … I have a bit of a feeling that I’ve had it with people. But you don’t ever get away from people, really. And these are pictures of people to me. It’s all we have left to represent them. I’m dealing with things that are going away, disappearing, crumbling. How do we hold on to stuff?”

Being There

One object which Ms. Leibovitz was drawn to photograph and feature on two pages of Pilgrimage merits special mention. Unlike nearly all of the other objects photographed for that book, Leibovitz was not attracted to it because of who once owned it or physically handled it.

Her picture of this unique object is compelling on several levels, not the least of which is that it verges on qualifying as the product of a celebrity photo shoot. In a virtual sense, Ms. Leibovitz pointed her cutting-edge digital camera directly at the visage of Abraham Lincoln. Although space-time continuum barriers sadly prevented her from photographing Lincoln in the flesh, she still managed to gain access to the National Archives to photograph what may be an original wet-plate glass negative[iii] of four images of Lincoln created when he was seated in front of a multi-lens camera operated by Anthony Berger on February 9, 1864 in Mathew Brady’s Washington, D.C. photographic gallery. To view Leibovitz’s photograph of the Lincoln plate appearing in Pilgrimage, click here.[iv] Photographing this negative offered Annie Leibovitz the closest experience to “being there” with one of the most influential American figures of all time and a man who enjoys an exalted position in the pantheon of our most famous celebrities.

NARA 530206a-sepia2

Ghost

At first blush, the four side-by-side negative images of Lincoln (backlit on a photo tray) are eerily ghost-like in appearance.

“It is this physical, and yet somehow ghostly, aspect of photography—its “spooky action at a distance” quality (to quote Einstein out of context)—that gives photography its particular aura. And this intensely interests Leibovitz.”[v]

The glass plate images might even remind some of the handiwork of William Mumler, a Boston and New York-based photographer from the mid-19th century who created expensive studio portrait photos into which he inserted apparitional figures made to resemble deceased loved ones. Mumler claimed to be able to photograph spirits which magically appeared around his paying customers in the midst of a studio session. Joining a long list of other Mumler hoax victims, Mary Todd Lincoln visited his studio in the early 1870s to pose for a photo into which Mumler inserted the extremely wispy, bleached image of something looking sort of like her dearly departed husband standing over her with both of his hands lovingly resting upon her shoulders (as well as a less detailed white figure presumably representing her departed son Willie).[vi] Although very touching and reassuring for Mrs. Lincoln — who thought the photo was legitimate because she claimed to have introduced herself to Mr. Mumler under a pseudonym — it still was a fake.

Mary Lincoln-The Strange Case of William Mumler_p266

Images of Mrs. Lincoln appeared in thousands of carte de visite prints sold both before and after her husband’s death.[vii] An example of a Brady photo of Mary Todd Lincoln copyrighted in 1862 appears below, left, and possibly another example from the same photo session, courtesy of the National Archives, to the right:

Mary Todd Lincoln taken by Brady-1862-02 Portrait 

As she mourned for her husband, much of the nation mourned with Mrs. Lincoln by placing her calling card-sized image in their respective family photo albums. Mary Todd Lincoln would have been immediately recognizable to a then-successful big city photographer like William L. Mumler, even if he had never before met her, simply because he had handled and probably sold dozens upon dozens of pirated prints of her pictures taken in other photography studios, a practice then widespread among many professional photographers.

But there is nothing fake about the item photographed by Ms. Leibovitz; it is an unadulterated object. Adding to the dramatic visual effect of Anthony Berger’s delicate glass plate negative, two of its Lincoln images are beset with bisecting cracks from which pieces of glass have broken off from the slide. The consequences of rough handling over the years have extracted their toll. If Mr. Mumler was still alive, he might insist that the missing triangular-shaped wedges of glass are shaped like opposing dagger tips which hauntingly meet one another at the top and bottom of one of Lincoln’s hands, metaphorically nailing that hand to the arm of the chair. Were these cracks symbolically created by someone from the afterlife or are their locations and shapes just a mere coincidence? The correct answer must be: “Mum-ler’s the word!”

And That’s a Wrap

On yet another level, Leibovitz’s photo represents something far more meaningful than just a picture of a 150 year-old glass negative. I suppose that the object Annie Leibovitz photographed can be thought of as Lincoln’s version of the Shroud of Turin. Considering it from that perspective, it might even be viewed  as a form of a holy relic.

The glass negative images were produced in consequence of Lincoln’s physical presence, during a few moments that particles of light bounced off of him, passed through the camera’s four optical lenses, and interacted with the chemicals on the surface of the exposed glass plate. This, in turn, imprinted his reversed image onto the plate in a negative format. In a sense, Lincoln MADE the images on the glass plate. This photo-chemical process (completed after “developing” and “fixing” chemicals were applied to the plate in a darkroom) rendered the three-dimensional Lincoln as a series of two-dimensional negative images on a thin piece of glass, harkening back to roughly how some people believe a crucified Jesus Christ  imprinted an image of himself on his wispy death shroud now said to be in Turin, Italy.

During her visit to the National Archives, Annie Leibovitz was able to see and photograph several other famous glass plate negative portraits of Abraham Lincoln taken by Anthony Berger in that same February 9, 1864 sitting, including the famous “Penny View” of Lincoln used as the basis for the image on the U.S. penny and the two Berger views used to create Lincoln’s image on the old and new $5 bills (two of those images appear below, courtesy of the National Archives; the one on the top, dubbed the “Famous Profile,” was used in conjunction with the very similar “Penny Profile” view by Victor D. Brenner for the Lincoln-head cent):

Portrait NARA 07-1347a

Leibovitz’s reaction to that experience was described by Sarah Boxer in the following way:

“When speaking of the photographic plates of Lincoln that were made by Anthony Berger at Mathew Brady’s studio (which were used as templates for the five-dollar bill and the penny), [Ms. Leibovitz] described them as “very spiritual” because ‘the photons that bounced off Lincoln had once passed through’ them. It is eerie to think that Lincoln’s very body physically affected the plates that captured his image.”[viii]

The glass plate negative slides of Abraham Lincoln housed at the National Archives also are “very spiritual” simply because they reveal moments of time, 150 years ago, burned onto a tiny layer of chemical film clinging to the slides’ surface. In Boxer’s words, Lincoln’s:

“body acted on the light in such a way that the light struck the photographic plate or negative and physically changed it to form an image. Every photograph [made in this way] is an indexical trace, a brand made by its subject.”

Using even more visceral terms, Boxer described all non-digital photographs produced on negative film as like  “cattle branding: burning an impression into the cow’s hide, so that it will be forever linked to its owner.”

Jurrasic Park Meets the Nutty Professor in 3-D

Yet another metaphor borrowed from Christianity can be used to describe the inherent spirituality of Anthony Berger’s glass plate negative of Lincoln. In a sense, that object offers its viewers the chance to see a version of Lincoln resurrected from the dead and visually brought back to life into our modern spatial world of three dimensions. To achieve this result, we need only to reverse the process that converted Lincoln’s 3-D physical being into a series of 2-D negative images on a remarkably thin piece of glass. But how? What mad alchemist could possibly achieve this crazy sounding task?

Well, here’s how. The images of Lincoln were “branded” onto the glass plate by the photographer’s use of  a single camera with at least one row of four side-by-side lenses. The spacing of those lenses more-or-less mimicked the distance between a human’s eyes. Consequently, the viewer can experience a 3-D effect when a set of those image pairs are viewed stereoscopically. Seen in this manner, Lincoln is optically “brought back to life” again in all three of his glorious dimensions.

Lloyd Ostendorf, co-author of Lincoln in Photographs: An Album of Every Known Pose, has concluded that Anthony Berger used a multi-lens camera in order to speed up the process of mass producing prints of Lincoln’s image. This means that at least the photographs of Lincoln shot with a multi-lens camera were taken — from Anthony Berger’s perspective — with the primary objective of selling a great number of prints (published by E.& H. T. Anthony & Co.) to the public. An unintended consequence of that business decision by Anthony Berger, however, was to permit future generations the ability to stereoscopically bring Abraham Lincoln “back to life” in 3-D from several moments in time on February 9, 1864.

Little Big Men

The pose struck by the Great Emancipator was choreographed and captured in a several second exposure as the result of the collaborative efforts of two men — Anthony Berger (the photographer) and Francis B. Carpenter (a painter who arranged for the session with Lincoln and helped orchestrate his poses). Mr. Carpenter convinced Mr. Lincoln to sit for this and twelve other photographic poses despite the President’s great impatience with the long, drawn-out process entailed in posing for what he called “sun pictures.” In fact, so impatient was Lincoln on the day of the February 9, 1864 photo shoot, that when his carriage was delayed, he chose to walk from the White House to Brady’s Pennsylvania Avenue studio and dragged Carpenter along with him. Carpenter quoted Lincoln as saying “I’m pretty much split up for our having had to wait like this.” It is amazing that Lincoln later was able to sit through seven poses at the studio on that day. The collodion process then used in making wet-plate negatives was lengthy and tedious both for photographers and the sitters.

Carpenter essentially was an “artist-in-residence” (in the words of Harold Holzer) at the White House for a six month period during the first half of 1864, enjoying what he described as “the freedom of [Lincoln’s] offices at almost all hours.”[ix] His interaction with Lincoln reveals both the special relationship he forged with the President and the great trust Lincoln placed in him. Carpenter obtained this level of intimate access after he pitched the following project to his President — to create a painting of Lincoln and his cabinet members in a scene entitled “The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation Before the Cabinet.” Carpenter’s goal was to memorialize as historically accurately as possible what he considered to be one of the greatest moments in the history of mankind.

As far as Francis Bicknell Carpenter must have been concerned, the photos of Lincoln which he arranged for Anthony Berger to shoot were to serve a singular purpose — to provide him with positive prints of Lincoln in poses desired for use as figure studies for The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation Before the Cabinet. Any other poses struck by Lincoln and photographed by Berger, such as his “quiet family moment” view of Tad Lincoln standing next to his father while both stared at a photo album prop, would have been shot on Berger’s own initiative as they had absolutely no relevance to Carpenter’s painting of the The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation Before the Cabinet. Granted, Carpenter later used that father-son photo as the very rough basis for two separate paintings (on a much, much smaller physical scale) titled “President Abraham Lincoln and Tad,”[x] which is part of the White House collection, and “The Lincoln Family,” at The New York Historical Society; but they and other similar paintings were afterthoughts and sidelights to his main objective. From the beginning, he envisioned that his Emancipation painting would be mass-produced in the form of engravings for all to see and enjoy, making his work well known, immensely popular, and a key part of America’s cherished historical record.

It is not known how it came to pass that Anthony Berger served as the photographer of Lincoln on each and every occasion that Carpenter arranged for a presidential photo session. Three Lincoln photo shoots occurred, on February 9, April 20, and April 26, 1864, the last of which was set in Lincoln’s study/cabinet room in the White House where the Emancipation Proclamation was first read. Some unknown cameraman (perhaps Berger?) also took five views of Lincoln at Brady’s Washington studio with a four-lens camera on January 8, 1864 and Thomas Le Mere photographed Lincoln in a standing pose on about April 17, 1863 when he worked for Brady in D.C.,[xi]  demonstrating that other Brady men could answer the call to photograph the President. Carpenter also relied upon Anthony Berger to photograph at least some of the Lincoln cabinet members who were to appear in his painting, including Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton.[xii] Carpenter was not present for the session with Stanton, trusting Berger to follow his prior instructions on how to pose Stanton.[xiii] On one occasion, Carpenter even posed himself in front of Berger’s camera as a stand-in for Secretary of State William Seward to create the desired figure study pose for Seward in “The First Reading.[xiv]

All of this points to the conclusion that Carpenter chose Berger to work exclusively on this several month long project and that he did so both because of their familiarity with one another and his admiration for Berger’s talents. If Francis Carpenter had preferred a man from one of the other highly-regarded studios in D.C. (such as Wenderoth & Taylor, at which Lincoln was photographed sometime in 1864, for example) or even a different Brady cameraman, he surely would have brought in someone other than Anthony Berger to help him with what he thought would become his greatest masterpiece and elevate him to the status of the exalted Gilbert Stuart or John Trumbull who famously painted George Washington.

Although Messrs. Holzer, Borritt, and Neely assign all of the credit to Francis Carpenter for how Lincoln was posed in the Berger photos, I don’t think that Berger’s formal training as a painter in Frankfurt, Germany should be discounted. Those three Lincoln scholars assert that:

“the great Lincoln photographs which became the lasting models for coins, stamps, and currency were composed under Carpenter’s eye: sittings before the same photographers did not produce equal results when Carpenter was absent.”[xv]

This conclusion ignores one point — that we only definitively know of a handful of the photos which were taken by Anthony Berger when he worked for Brady. In each such instance, that knowledge comes entirely from Carpenter’s published and unpublished writings. All of Berger’s known photographs involved Carpenter’s collaboration, perhaps with the exception of the supremely compelling photo that Berger took of Lincoln with his youngest son Tad. Thus, we don’t have a body of Berger’s work independent of Carpenter against which to compare. Granted, Carpenter “did have a keen eye for portraiture and documentary groupings,” but who is to say that Anthony Berger never took any other portrait photos without Carpenter’s involvement of equal or greater artistic merit? The Anthony Berger photographs, in the words of  David Hackett Fisher, showed Lincoln “as a wise and experienced leader, with an aura of growing strength and confidence.”[xvi] Should that  achievement be attributed solely to Carpenter, despite the fact that “there were doubts about Carpenter’s reputation even in his own day” and one modern art historian unfairly characterized him as a “very boring” artist? Or is it more likely that the combined talents of Carpenter and Berger produced photographs of Lincoln beyond either of their individual powers?

Branded (in a Good Way)

Besides creating memorable photographs “branded” onto photographic film, Annie Leibovitz has excelled at other forms of branding — in particular, linking the names of celebrities to her widely-recognized photographs of them. To think of a celebrity and then immediately conjure up in one’s mind their image from a Leibovitz photograph is a supreme achievement. Declares Sarah Boxer, “she is a genius at it.” By so succeeding, Leibovitz also has created her own brand.

The original concept of creating compelling photographic images of celebrities was most successfully executed in America first and foremost by the man who employed Anthony Berger for approximately a decade — Mathew Brady. It was Brady who created the widely recognized “Brady of Broadway,” “Brady’s National Photographic Portrait Gallery,” and “Photograph by Brady” brands. The celebrities photographed in Brady’s studios included Presidents, members of royalty, noted politicians, philosophers, religious figures, ambassadors, high-ranking military officers and heroes, actors, and even members of P.T. Barnum’s circus. These photographs of stars made Mathew Brady, in kind, a veritable rock star in his day. Few knew and hob-knobbed with as many of the rich and famous as Mathew Brady. Now, exactly 170 years after Brady opened his first studio, there are not many photographers as successful in the pursuit of ever-lasting images of celebrities as Ms. Leibovitz. At some point in her career of creating the equivalent of trademark images of stars, Annie Leibovitz has become her own brand just as Brady once did.

In the same way that Annie Leibovitz has proven herself a modern artistic genius by imprinting in our minds immediately recognizable photographs of celebrities — such as John Lennon naked and curled around Yoko Ono, Dolly Parton paired with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dan Akyroyd and John Belushi as the “Blues Brothers,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.,” Demi Moore naked and pregnant,  etc.  — with “the props, the settings, the clothes, and even the gestures and expressions that will cling to each person’s image … linking one to the another,”[xvii] so too were Anthony Berger and Francis B. Carpenter geniuses. Their collaboration, which resulted in thirteen known poses of Lincoln, produced several which are immediately recognizable and considered iconic a full century and a half later. Yet, because those photos were linked for the better part of the last 150 years only to Mathew Brady, any fame and notoriety due to Messrs. Berger & Carpenter has gone largely missing. Their story would have a modern-day parallel if, for example, it were to be demonstrated conclusively that the crème de la crème of Annie Leibovitz’s most iconic photographs over the last several decades were not taken by her, but by an obscure younger protégé in her employ essentially unknown to the art world [Note: this is nothing more than a hypothetical used for illustrative purposes].

Excuse My Dust

In her “Annie Leibovitz’s Ghosts” piece, Sarah Boxer quotes part of a passage (and the title) from Walt Whitman’s 1871 elegy to Abraham Lincoln, among his “Leaves of Grass” compiled works, which Whitman began after Lincoln was assassinated in April of 1865:

This dust was once the man,
Gentle, plain, just and resolute, under whose cautious hand,
Against the foulest crime in history known in any land or age,
Was saved the Union of these States

Boxer then rhetorically asks “when you hear the name Annie Leibovitz, what images spring to mind?” Answering her own question, she listed several easily recollected celebrity photos by Leibovitz. But Boxer also posits that as a result of Leibovitz’s photo of Anthony Berger’s multi-lens glass plate negative of Lincoln appearing at pp. 89-90 in Pilgrimage, “maybe the dust of Abraham Lincoln” should be added to that list.

Deservedly so, Lebovitz’s genius and artistic talent are widely known. But when most people hear the name Anthony Berger, do images of anyone, let alone Lincoln, spring to their minds? Do they realize that most, if not all, of the images of Lincoln branded into their memories from his visage on U.S. stamps, coins, currency, and countless books and advertisements were derived from Anthony Berger’s photographs? The unfortunate answer to both questions is “most certainly not.”

“When Mathew Brady and Anthony Berger first looked at the … photographs that were taken at the Brady studio that February afternoon in 1864, they surely had no idea what they had actually created. They could not have realized the countless different ways in which the images were to be used or the enormous impact they would have. But it is thanks to these images … that the face of Lincoln is better known to Americans today than it was in his lifetime.”[xviii]

Ms. Leibovitz’s picture of Anthony Berger’s photographic negative gives me hope that the time finally has come, 150 years after the fact, for us to collectively tip our hats in recognition of the brilliance of Anthony Berger and Francis B. Carpenter for so artfully collecting “the dust” of Lincoln on several glass plates.

I encourage anyone intrigued by these sentiments to make their own pilgrimage to Anthony Berger’s Lincoln images by viewing them online in high resolution at the National Archives and the Library of Congress. See, e.g., http://www.loc.gov/pictures/search/?q=lincoln%20anthony%20berger. I also highly recommend Ms. Leibovitz’s book Pilgrimage and the current and future exhibitions associated with that book.

 

By Craig Heberton, July 26, 2014, © 2014

 

To read an interesting story about  the struggle to save tangible historical objects in a digital world, see Jessica Bennett’s “Inside The New York Times Photo Morgue, a Possible New Life for Print” (May 7, 2012) at: http://www.wnyc.org/story/206643-wnyc-tumblr/

“To hold a newspaper in your hand that your great grandmother … might have read, especially in a world that is today so focused on speed, there is something very human and visceral about it.”

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Update on October 27, 2014:

Here’s another example of how knowing the history of an otherwise ordinary looking object completely changes its meaning: http://video.pbs.org/video/2365332583/

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Update on November 30, 2014:

10 Questions for Annie Leibovitz;” Ms. Leibovitz answers ten head-on questions posed to her by intervewer Sarah Luscombe on behalf of Time.com subscribers  — http://content.time.com/time/video/player/0,32068,3335573001_1862545,00.html

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Update on January 6, 2015:

Read how one man’s “stuff” left sitting untouched in a room for nearly a century presents us with a real time capsule looking back to a life sacrificed in World War I and how things once were.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/12/29/world-war-i-soldiers-room-untouched-for-almost-100-years/?tid=sm_fb

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[i]  Boxer, Sarah, “Annie Leibovitz’s Ghosts,” The New Yorker, March 19, 2012.

[ii]  Browning, Dominque, “A Pilgrim’s Progress,” The New York Times, October 30, 2011.

[iii]  “Brady had a special process for copying glass or collodion negatives so that the duplicate plate could not be distinguished from the original.” Ostendorf, Lloyd and Hamilton, Charles,  Lincoln in Photographs: An Album of Every Known Pose (1963),  at p. 165.

[iv]  To view Leibovitz’s photo of the plate in Pilgimage, see: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2011/11/08/pilgrimage-annie-leibovitz/; or http://books.google.com/books?id=xwsLIRIHDj0C&q=berger#v=snippet&q=berger&f=false; or  http://victoriacullen.typepad.com/queenwithoutacountry/page/2/.

[v]  Boxer, Sarah, “Annie Leibovitz’s Ghosts,” The New Yorker, March 19, 2012

[vi]  “The Ghost and Mr. Mumler,” American History Magazine, February 8, 2008. http://www.historynet.com/the-ghost-and-mr-mumler.htm; Moye, David, “William H. Mumler, Spirit Photographs, Amazed Audiences with Ghostly Images,” The Huffington Post, August 22, 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/22/spirit-photographs-_n_3795717.html.

[vii]  To see some of her photographs, visit http://rogerjnorton.com/photos/marytoddgallery.html.

[viii]  Boxer, Sarah, “Annie Leibovitz’s Ghosts,” The New Yorker, March 19, 2012

[ix] Holzer, Harold, Borritt, Gabor S., and Neely, Mark E., “Francis Bicknell Carpenter (1830-1900): Painter of Abraham Lincoln and His Circle,” American Art Journal, at p. 87, fn 2, quoting Carpenter, Francis B., “Personal Impressions of Mr. Lincoln,” New York Independent, April 27, 1865, p. 1.

[x]  An image of the painting can be seen at Holzer, Harold, Borritt, Gabor S., and Neely, Mark E., “Francis Bicknell Carpenter (1830-1900): Painter of Abraham Lincoln and His Circle,” American Art Journal, at p. 87. Interestingly, the relative positioning of Lincoln and Tad was swapped in this and Carpenter’s other painting, as if the underlying photograph was horizontally flipped. The part in Lincoln’s hair in the painting, on the left side of his head, is different than the way it is depicted in all of his February 9, 1864 photos, on the right side of his head. This was an anomaly, in that Lincoln’s part otherwise is on the left side of his head in all other photographs. Carpenter wrote on the back of a cabinet-sized print of the Berger photograph used as the basis for the old U.S. $5 bill: ‘From a negative made in 1864, by A. Berger, partner of M.B. Brady, at Brady Gallery ….[Lincoln’s] barber by mistake this day [February 9, 1864] for some unaccountable reason, parted his hair on the President’s right side, instead of his left.” Ostendorf, Lloyd and  Hamilton, Charles,  Lincoln in Photographs: An Album of Every Known Pose (1963),  at p. 177. This language also was quoted by Carpenter’s grandson and then owner of the cabinet card sized print, Emerson Carpenter Ives, in a letter to the editor, published in Life Magazine, March 7, 1955.

[xi]  http://peerintothepast.tumblr.com/post/65008148133/abraham-lincoln-by-smithsonian-institution-on. Ostendorf, Lloyd and  Hamilton, Charles,  Lincoln in Photographs: An Album of Every Known Pose (1963),  at pp. 128-129.

[xii]  Carpenter wrote in his diary on February 23, 1864, “Found that Berger at Brady’s had made a picture of Mr. Stanton in the position I told him to put him in …” Ostendorf, Lloyd and  Hamilton, Charles,  Lincoln in Photographs: An Album of Every Known Pose (1963),  at p. 186. In Diary of Gideon Welles: Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Volume I (1911), at p. 527, Welles writes that on February 17, 1864 he went to Brady’s studio “with Mr. Carpenter, an artist, to have a photograph taken. Mr. C. is to paint an historical picture of the President and Cabinet at the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation.” Although no mention was made of whether Berger was the photographer, it is likely that he was.

[xiii] To see the sketch of Stanton which Francis B. Carpenter presumably completed from Berger’s photograph, as well as several other figure studies sketched by Carpenter of Lincoln’s cabinet members, see Holzer, Harold, Borritt, Gabor S., and Neely, Mark E., “Francis Bicknell Carpenter (1830-1900): Painter of Abraham Lincoln and His Circle,” American Art Journal, at pp. 72-73.

[xiv]  Holzer, Harold, Borritt, Gabor S., and Neely, Mark E., “Francis Bicknell Carpenter (1830-1900): Painter of Abraham Lincoln and His Circle,” American Art Journal, at p. 67.

[xv]  Ibid.

[xvi]  Fisher, David H., Liberty and Freedom: A Visual History of America’s Founding Ideas (2004), at p. 347.

[xvii]  Boxer, Sarah, “Annie Leibovitz’s Ghosts,” The New Yorker, March 19, 2012.

[xviii]  Sullivan, George, Picturing Lincoln: Famous Photographs that Popularized the President (2000), at p. 82.

The First Photo Op: Anthony Berger’s White House Photos of Lincoln

14 Apr

April 26, 1864, Washington, D.C. – A century and a half ago, for the first and only time, Abraham Lincoln was photographed inside the White House, thereby inaugurating, in the words of Harold Holzer, a now “routine White House occurrence — the photo opportunity.”  Francis B. Carpenter, a portrait painter, arranged for and oversaw that session in what is presently called the Lincoln Bedroom. That day he jotted in his diary: “Today Mr. [Anthony] Berger from [Mathew] Brady’s came up and took several pictures for me of Mr. Lincoln in the Cabinet room. Succeeded very well.” Carpenter then enjoyed unfettered access to the Lincolns in the White House and desired more photos of the President to use as studies for his painting that now hangs in the Senate wing of the U.S. Capitol – The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation Before the Cabinet (A.H. Ritchie engraving of the painting, Library of Congress, below):

3a05802v LCcrop

To that end, Lincoln posed exactly where the event which Carpenter wished to paint had occurred — by the table in his office/Cabinet Room at which he eventually presented a reworked Proclamation to his Cabinet members on September 22, 1862 before signing it. The proclamation specified that it would take effect on January 1, 1863 in any states still part of the Confederacy. Although Lincoln didn’t remember exactly when he first read the Proclamation to his cabinet – July 22, perhaps? – Carpenter chose to memorialize that event. Nevertheless, his final work product on a canvas measuring 9 feet by 14.5 feet at least represented the creative process resulting in the final document. To view images of the privately owned Lincoln White House photos (or for which rights of any use come with a fee), see:

http://www-tc.pbs.org/wnet/lookingforlincoln/files/2008/12/mes63081.jpg; Harold Holzer’s “Abraham Lincoln’s White House,” White House History No. 25 (2009) at http://www.whitehousehistory.org/history/documents/White-House-History-25-Holzer-Lincoln-White-House.pdf;  Betty C. Monkman’s “Images of the Executive Mansion, 1861-1865,” in Seale, William, The White House: Actors and Observers (2002 ), at p. 68 http://books.google.com/books?id=yqK2iJaPYKkC&q=berger#v=snippet&q=berger&f=false.

The photographer who captured these historic views of Abraham Lincoln at the White House was German-born Anthony Berger, then the 32 year-old superintendent of Mathew Brady’s Washington, D.C. gallery. He took the pictures with a four-lens camera he had carted to the Cabinet Room from Brady’s Washington gallery, along with other delicate and cumbersome equipment and chemicals. Lincoln had been photographed twice before by Anthony Berger at Brady’s 352 Pennsylvania Ave. Photographic Gallery of Art, resulting in the creation of several of our most beloved and widely known images of President Lincoln (see examples, below, courtesy of the Library of Congress & the National Archives). As noted by George Sullivan, “thanks to these images  … the face of Lincoln is better known to Americans today than it was in his lifetime.”  Picturing Lincoln: Famous Photographs that Popularized the President (2000), at p. 82. Lincoln’s eldest son, Robert, described the Anthony Berger studio portrait which was later used for the engraving on the U.S. five dollar bill (middle, below) as “the most satisfactory likeness of [my father].”

3a10739r-O-88-by Berger on Tuesday, February 9, 1864  3a07486r-O-92-Portrait used for the engraved bust of Lincoln that appeared on the United States five dollar bill for many years from 1914 to 2007 Landscape

Insufficient sunlight in the White House’s Cabinet Room made photographing Lincoln a significant technical challenge. But Berger overcame this obstacle, somehow making do with the paltry natural lighting from the outer windows. Although the conditions prohibited making photos on par with studio creations, the three Berger photos of Lincoln met, if not exceeded, Carpenter’s expectations. Berger accomplished this despite an unanticipated hiccup. It occurred when the President’s youngest son, Tad, locked Anthony Berger and his assistant out of a closet they were using as a darkroom in the midst of the photographic shoot — and then fled with the key. Abraham Lincoln arose from his chair, left the room to find his son and the key, and later returned to unlock the door. The resulting hoopla probably resulted in the smudging of Lincoln’s face in the only White House photo showing him standing. We know about this — and other events and discussions at the White House — thanks to Francis B. Carpenter’s gem of a book, Six Months at the White House With Abraham Lincoln (1866).

It is altogether fitting and proper that an engraving of Francis B. Carpenter’s The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation found its way onto the original cover of Doris Goodwin Kearns’ book A Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, from which was adapted the screenplay for  Steven Spielberg’s 2012 movie Lincoln. Just as that movie serves as a modern-day recreation of Lincoln’s push for the 13th Amendment, Anthony Berger’s White House photos of Lincoln represent our only photographic recreation of the birth of the Emancipation Proclamation, which Harold Holzer describes as “the most history-altering document ever promulgated in [the White House]” and Carpenter, the painter, called “an act unparalleled for moral grandeur in the history of mankind.”

Here’s a salute to the 150th anniversary of the first Presidential photo-op, brought to us courtesy of Anthony Berger, Francis B. Carpenter, Abraham Lincoln and son Tad, and the Emancipation Proclamation (Carpenter, below, in a Brady daguerreotype, from the Library of Congress; along with the first page of the Emancipation Proclamation, from the National Archives).

3c10148vc    514_pg01by Craig Heberton, April 26, 2014

(released a few days early due to travel plans)

Addressing What Lincoln is Doing While Seated on the Platform at Gettysburg

20 Dec

Martin P. Johnson, in his wonderful book Writing the Gettysburg Address (2013), describes that: “Lincoln’s journey to Gettysburg is encoded in the manuscripts and words of his speech and reflected in the texts of his revisions.” To Professor Johnson’s assessment I would append the following: “Lincoln’s journey to Gettysburg also is encoded within and revealed by the handful of photographs documenting his visit which survive to this very day.”

In 1952 Josephine Cobb discovered the image of Abraham Lincoln seated on the speakers’ platform at Gettysburg within a photograph taken on November 19, 1863. That photo is attributed to David Bachrach by William A. Frassanito (the “Bachrach photo”). For some time I have pondered whether Lincoln is holding an object in his right hand on the platform in the Bachrach photo — explaining why he is seen earnestly peering downwards in the direction of that object which is partially obscured by spectators’ hats in the foreground (see the object boxed in yellow, below).

object2 07639uIDs

What can be seen of the object suggests that it moved during the exposure as some blurring is noticeable above it (see below).

object2 07639uIDs02

Could it be that Lincoln was captured reviewing his written speech  — which several observers claim he removed from his coat pocket and glanced at during one point late in Everett’s oration? The object looks like it was folded — possibly even tri-folded. Might the object be a dark leather breast billfold or tri-fold inside of which rested the paper on which his address was written? Or, rather than a long secretary’s breast coat wallet, is it the very paper on which the address was notated? The likelihood that the object is the paper on which the Gettysburg Address was written is diminished by the fact that (1) it is very dark and rigid looking and (2) both the so-called Nicolay copy — thought by most scholars to constitute the oration copy held by Lincoln on the speakers’ platform — and the Hay copy exhibit horizontal and not vertical folds on both of their two pages.

An eyewitness to the event, Professor Henry E. Jacobs, then a student at Gettysburg’s Lutheran Seminary, recollected that:

“As Mr. Everett was closing his oration, Mr. Lincoln, I thought, was showing some of that nervousness, which, according to Cicero, characterizes all successful oratory. His mind evidently was not on what Mr. Everett was saying, but on his own speech. He drew from his pocket a metallic case and adjusted a pair of steel glasses near the top of his nose. Then, reaching into the side pocket of his coat, he produced a crumpled sheet of paper, which he first carefully smoothed and then read for a few minutes. By this time Mr. Everett had reached his final periods.”

Is Lincoln wearing oh-so-hard-to-see steel framed glasses in the Bachrach photo? Pay careful attention to the left side of his face and the temple arm of his reading glasses which appears to be running from his left ear to his left eye as well as the hint of reflective material above each of his eyes. A portion of the glasses’ end piece on the right side of his face also may visible framed by his dark hair (see detail below which has been darkened to better reveal Lincoln’s spectacles).

object2 07639uIDs02d

I also have wondered for what reason Bachrach chose to time this photograph in order to illustrate Lincoln looking downward rather than facing out at the crowd or even towards the keynote speaker — Edward Everett — who then was standing to his left?

If you believe that Bachrach only desired a generic shot of the speakers’ platform, then the timing of this photograph didn’t matter in that the behavior and appearance of Lincoln and others on the rostrum would have been immaterial. But if Bachrach was trying to capture a photograph with a compelling view of Lincoln, then I have to believe that he chose this particular moment because Lincoln could be seen holding the actual “reading copy” of his Gettysburg Address for what may have been a final inspection some time prior to his oration. Many years after 1863, Bachrach wrote that “the negatives,  8 x 10, [taken at Gettysburg] were of no real interest, I then thought, and … [they were  left] for the woodcut artist.” Because he had produced a very fine generic crowd scene at the Gettysburg dedication ceremony, Bachrach’s dismissive contemporaneous assessment of that scene tells us that he had wanted something more than an image of a throng of spectators gathered around a raised platform. Rather, his account demonstrates that he must have hoped to capture a distinctive image of Lincoln and possibly other dignitaries on the elevated platform, such as Everett, but deemed his effort a failure. Therefore, it is not a reach in logic to conclude that, notwithstanding his distance from the rostrum, Bachrach intentionally timed his view with the purpose in mind of creating a glass plate image of Lincoln holding and reviewing his written dedicatory address while Everett still was standing and orating his lengthy keynote speech. Unfortunately, the image of Everett’s highly blurred face which Bachrach captured proved even less satisfactory than Lincoln’s (see below).

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What do you think? What do you see in these images? Is Lincoln holding something and eyeballing it through his reading glasses or is this apparent object merely a portion of the lapel of his frock coat?

The arguments against the dark object constituting part of his overcoat include that: it is much larger and darker than any other portion of his coat (including the visible coat lapels); the same rectangular area of darkness cannot be seen on the opposite side of his coat lapel; a coat lapel would exhibit softer, more rounded lines as opposed to the parallelogram-like lines and angles framing the object; only the dark object — and no other portion of Lincoln’s frock coat — moved during the several second exposure time of the photograph; and a portion of the object appears to obscure some of Lincoln’s tie. Also, the fact that the left portion (from the viewer’s perspective) of the dark object fronts a lighter-colored top hat probably resulted from the hat being held by the man seated nearest to Lincoln’s right — his personal secretary John Nicolay. This means that the dark object was held away from Lincoln’s torso at a sufficient distance to create such an effect. If the left portion of the dark object fronting the lighter-colored hat was part of Lincoln’s coat lapel, it would not be framed by someone’s hat in the background. Instead, it would be framed by the rest of Lincoln’s frock coat.

We are reminded by these image details that historical evidence can be buried deep within old photographs. Clearly, Bachrach, like fellow photographer Alexander Gardner, did more than try to obtain generic crowd shots at the Gettysburg dedication ceremony. A careful study of the surviving photographs — combined with a critical review of the written record — can reveal to us the intentions of the photographers who were present in Gettysburg on November 19, 1863. For example, the man crouched down and peering over Lincoln’s right shoulder in the Bachrach photo is Wayne MacVeagh, then a District Attorney for Chester County, PA and a Republican party power broker in Pennsylvania (see him boxed in red in cropped detail, below).

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The fact that he squatted down next to President Lincoln, looked directly at Bachrach’s camera, and posed for the camera reveals that he could see that Bachrach was taking a photograph at that moment. Other men circled in yellow (two of whom are Judge Olin — 2nd from right — and Lt. Cochrane, far right) in the image, above, likewise looked directly at Bachrach’s camera and possibly were tipped off to do so by McVeagh’s behavior. MacVeagh clearly wanted to be memorialized with his face situated near Lincoln’s face and he posed himself in such a way to demonstrate that he understood that Bachrach intended to make Lincoln the centerpiece of his photographic effort (see expanded detail, below). Lt. Henry C. Cochrane, a Marine Band escort, wrote to his father on November 21, 1863 that: “At the cemetery I was again favored, with a seat on the stand, and was totally enveloped by civil and military dignitaries…. Some photographic views were taken of Nicolay, Lincoln & Everett, and I believe my countenance appears in the background, if so, I must surely get one as a ‘souvenir.'”

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In an interview with the Daily Louisville Commercial published on November 12, 1879, Lincoln’s Attorney General and friend James Speed, relayed how Lincoln explained that:

“He took what he had written [in Washington] with him to Gettysburg, then he was put in an upper room in a house [the David Wills’ house where he spent the night of November 18th], and he asked to be left alone for a time. He then prepared a speech, but concluded it so shortly before it was to be delivered he had not time to memorize it.”

Accounts of several people, including Oho Governor Tod, the Canadian foreign minister  William McDougall, John Nicolay (one of Lincoln’s personal secretaries), Sergeant James Rebert (who guarded Lincoln’s room on the morning of the 19th), and several others support the contention that Lincoln visited a portion of the battlefield very early on the morning of November 19th, was deeply moved by the experience, and then further modified a portion of his Address shortly before he mounted the horse upon which he rode in the procession to the cemetery grounds.

These observations and bits of evidence speak volumes about what the photographer intended and what at least one person on the speakers’ platform understood Bachrach was then seeking to capture when this photograph was exposed. They also corroborate some of the eyewitness accounts and enhance our understanding of what transpired in connection with Lincoln’s “few appropriate remarks.” Maybe by now “seeing” the actual copy of the Gettysburg Address, and Lincoln studying it on the dedication rostrum apparently in an effort to memorize his most recent edits and mentally add the phrase “under God,” we are now another step closer to reaching a consensus over whether the Nicolay copy, folds and all, really is Lincoln’s oration copy. 

Lincoln on platform

— Craig Heberton IV, December 20, 2013

The cropped images in this post are all courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division

Heberton’s Lincoln: The Case

21 Nov

WHERE ARE THE CANDIDATES FOR LINCOLN?

To provide the necessary perspective, take a look at what the Library of Congress (LC)  refers to as the stereo view from the left side of the negative for the first-in-time Gardner photo (first sequenced by Craig Heberton). It is marked (below) to illustrate key landmarks as well as, from left to right, the locations of John J. Richter’s Lincoln, Craig Heberton’s Lincoln, and Christopher Oakley’s Lincoln. This illustrates how far Gardner felt compelled to set up his photographic platform or ladder from the hollow square of foot soldiers in order to be able to “see” over those infantrymen, the soldiers and aides on horseback, and the thousands of spectators standing on higher ground.

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WHY WAS LINCOLN PHOTOGRAPHED AT A DISTANCE?

The fact that all known photographs depicting the Soldiers’ Cemetery and Evergreen Cemetery grounds on November 19, 1863 were taken outside the hollow square of soldiers illustrates two points. First, it would have been difficult for wet-plate photographers to set up their necessary equipment near a portable darkroom inside the hollow square because: (a) the darkroom had to be near the camera to allow for both the preparation and development of glass photographic plates within the darkroom near the time of their use, (b) the darkroom, the wet-plate chemicals, and the photographic platform couldn’t be placed where they would be in danger of being knocked over, trampled upon, or the plates otherwise might be ruined or diminished in quality, (c) to get inside the hollow square, the photographers might have had to march at the tail end of the parade and their equipment would have been transported by horseback in that no wagons can be seen anywhere within the hollow square, and (d) a wet-plate cameramen within the hollow square might have been compelled to place his equipment outside of the packed inner ring of spectators with a potentially worse view of the platform than outside of the hollow square. Second, even assuming that wet-plate photographers could have gained access to the area immediately in front of the speakers’ platform, it has to be asked whether they would have been comfortable placing a portable darkroom near their camera or forced to place it outside the inner ring of spectators at a great distance from and possibly inaccessible to the camera because of the crush of the crowds (described in several accounts)? It seems more likely, as speculated by John J. Richter, that only a dry-plate camera operator could have overcome the many obstacles within the hollow square thanks to the ease-of-use of those plates. In so doing, a dry-plate operator would have sacrificed image quality in exchange for convenience and maneuverability. Dry-plate technology “did not require sensitization and processing of plates while still wet in the field” and “the most important technical contribution by amateurs in [the 1860s] is the effort to develop a dry plate negative process …” John Hannavy, ed., Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography, Volume I (2007),  at p. 33The diminished quality of early rudimentary dry-plate technology is the reason why it was used almost exclusively in the 1860s by wealthy men of leisure and/or very technically savvy amateurs. For all of these reasons and more, it can be understood why the wet-plate photographers present at the dedication ceremony in Gettysburg on November 19, 1863 may have been compelled to shoot all or nearly all of their plates atop some form of a photographic platform from the relative safety of the area outside the hollow square. John Richter’s  thoughtful analysis about these considerations, in collaboration with Mr. Heberton, is very helpful in answering why Lincoln was photographed at such a distance.

GAINING PERSPECTIVE

It is difficult at first blush to realize the extent to which the cameras of Gardner and Bachrach were positioned in relatively opposing angles to the speakers’ platform on the cemetery grounds. The marked map, below, allows one to acclimate to those differing views.

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Although the first two Gardner stereoviews were exposed as Lincoln was arriving on horseback and taking part in a reception for him directly in front of the platform, several men observable in the later Bachrach photo (taken when Lincoln was seated and Edward Everett was standing and orating) can be seen upon the platform in the Gardner stereoviews. They were among the many already in position on the rostrum BEFORE Lincoln surmounted steps to join them. The positioning of those men allows for a determination of the different camera angles of each of Gardner and Bachrach and visually “explains” why Professor Oakley’s candidate cannot be correct.

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The area in which Professor Oakley claims that Secretary of State Seward was seated for ten minutes before his candidate for Lincoln arrived to be seated next to him is so very far away from the correct spot in which both Seward and Lincoln actually were seated. The WRONG location is is just one of several reasons why his thesis is fatally flawed.  

A SUMMARY OF WHY OAKLEY’s CANDIDATE FOR LINCOLN IS FLAWED

  • His Lincoln commands no attention from anyone in the crowd — Lincoln was described as “the observed of all observers” when he arrived before the speakers’ platform; Oakley’s Lincoln is the most unobserved of the observed. Men seated and standing on the platform ignore him. No one in the crowd standing on the ground near him doffed their hats in a show of respect, as occurred repeatedly wherever Lincoln appeared in Gettysburg. A review of the Gardner photos shows that the visible crowd is collectively focused upon someone else — not only in the first Gardner stereo view but in the second Gardner photo too. That person, who was the “observed of all observers,” is located in an area nowhere near Oakley’s Seward and Lincoln. This alone undercuts his Lincoln identification.
  • No dignitaries are on their feet preparing to greet his Lincoln as he allegedly prepares to surmount steps while stooped over as if he already is seated.
  • His Lincoln is completely unaccompanied and no one can be seen trailing behind him over a distance of at least forty or fifty yards.
  • William A. Frassanito argued against John Richter’s candidate in 2008 by pointing out that he was unaccompanied by cabinet members Seward, Blair, and Usher — the same argument can be applied against Oakley’s Lincoln whom Oakley says trailed his Seward to the cemetery by 10 minutes (nearly the same amount of time as some say it took Lincoln to ride from the town square to the outskirts of the cemetery). Likewise, Secretaries Usher and Blair are nowhere visible near him even though several accounts describe that Lincoln trailed Seward, Usher, and Blair up onto the rostrum.
  • His alleged Secretary of State Seward was seated on the platform 10 minutes (or more) before his Lincoln is said to be seen in the second (but not the first) Gardner photo standing and not yet seated.
  • His alleged Secretary of State Seward is seated at the far right end of the platform, several rows behind other men situated with their backs to him nowhere near the spot where Seward is shown seated in the center of the front row of chairs on the speakers’ platform in the Bachrach photo. Accounts also place Seward where he is shown in the Bachrach photo.
  • His alleged Seward is “guarded” by young boys standing behind him on the platform in both of the first two Gardner stereo views.
  • Men in the crowd are not seen removing their hats in a show of respect for his alleged Lincoln.
  • His Lincoln allegedly was moving throughout the exposure of the second Gardner stereo view as he walked up (or moved to the base of) stairs; if so, Gardner’s camera from a distance of about 90 yards away never would have captured the facial details claimed to match Lincoln’s studio photo taken from a distance of a few feet when Lincoln sat ramrod straight and perfectly still for Gardner’s several second indoor exposure. Oakley’s Lincoln must have been seated, otherwise his face would have been blurred, twinned, or appeared as a ghost image. Plenty of visual evidence of multiple ghost images of people who moved substantial distances throughout the camera’s exposure supports the conclusion that the second Gardner stereo view was exposed for as long as 10 to 12 seconds.
  • Professor Oakley claims that his Lincoln was soon to be seated to the left of his alleged Seward in the second Gardner stereo view.
  • His Lincoln, in truth, is visible in the first Gardner photo seated in the exact location as he is seen in the second photo — to the left of his alleged Seward (see below). His hat is visible in the first stereo angled in the same orientation as seen in the second Gardner stereo. His Lincoln’s face happened to be turned away from the camera in the first stereo view.

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  • His Lincoln is seated on the extreme far right of the platform behind several rows of standing and seated men when all accounts and the Bachrach photo place Lincoln and Seward in the exact center of the front row of seats on the stand — befitting their stature and importance. David Wills, Esq. and Governor Curtin never would have seated the President and Secretary of State anywhere near where Professor Oakley places them.
  • The nose on his Lincoln is “hawk-shaped;” but Lincoln’s substantial nose was not hooked. In the Smithsonian article trumpeting Professor Oakley’s discovery, the one prominent facial feature which Professor Oakley does not list as matching Lincoln’s face is his nose. In a side profile view, one’s nose usually is their most prominent feature. With respect to Lincoln’s substantial nose, that is the case for sure. To my knowledge, not until an interview with the CBS Evening News on November 19, 2013 did Professor Oakley declare his Lincoln’s nose to be a “match” to Lincoln’s. This he did after first showing a highlighted image of his Lincoln’s face — hooked nose and all. He then showed a computer screen view of his Lincoln’s face already overlaid with a transparency of a scaled-down Alexander Gardner studio photo of Lincoln taken on November 8, 1863 and further framed by an outline of Lincoln’s face seen in that studio photo. A favorable response by CBS reporter Chip Reid was captured on air when, in fact, Reid viewed, in essence, nothing more than Lincoln’s studio photo taken on November 8, 1863 placed within Gardner’s second stereo view shot outdoors on November 19, 1863 which was overlaid on top of the Professor’s candidate for Lincoln. See the screen captures from the broadcast, below.
  • The “beard” on his Lincoln’s chin is tucked into his shirt and many shades darker than the rest of his facial hair; Professor Oakley has conveniently carved out from the dark blob at the base of his Lincoln’s chin only a tiny portion of that which he claims matches Lincoln’s beard. In essence, he sees what he wants to see and has made it so.
  • His Lincoln’s “beard” is just as likely a bow tie or the entire dark blob represents a beard far larger than Lincoln’s December 8, 1863 studio photo.
  • Exclusive reliance upon an alleged visual identification of Seward and Lincoln, without a comprehensive comparative review of details within all three Gardner stereo photos (let alone the written historical record) is insufficient proof. Oakley’s Seward cannot be Seward merely because of where he is seated and when he is said to be seated. Likewise, his Lincoln cannot be Lincoln for the same reasons. No measure of photo software enhancement, overlays, rotation of studio photos, and other technological applications can change that.

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The screen captures (above) from the CBS Evening News interview originally broadcasted on November 19, 2013 are used herein under the fair use doctrine and principles of fair dealing, as they are used for comment, scholarship, and research.

HEBERTON’s LINCOLN

There are numerous accounts that Lincoln wore white gloves over his large hands and a stovepipe hat wrapped with a mourning band in Gettysburg. Detail from the first Gardner photo reveals the heavily shadowed face of a bearded man (see below, boxed in red) with a prominent motion-distorted nose and an equally large right ear beneath a stovepipe hat adorned by a mourning band. The elaborately intricate outer cartilage of his proportionately over-sized right ear can be seen along with a small, rounded jutting chin covered by a dark beard. In this Gardner photo he is the object of the most intense scrutiny of all visible men and women who are standing upon the speakers’ platform and facing Gardner’s camera (“Heberton’s Lincoln”)  despite being turned away from them —  just as President Lincoln would have been. In the words of one journalist, Lincoln was “the observed of all observers” when he appeared before the rostrum.  Many accounts explain that this was so from the moment that Lincoln stepped off his train after arriving in Gettysburg on November 18, 1863 until he departed Gettysburg the following day after giving his “Address,” returning to the town square from the cemetery, dining, shaking hands with thousands of well-wishers at the Wills home, and visiting the town’s Presbyterian church for a final reception with local “hero” John Burns.

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Many studio photographs reveal that Lincoln’s nose and ears were quite large in proportion to the rest of his long face and that his dark beard covered a portion of his prominently rounded and jutting chin, just as can be seen in the first Gardner stereo view.  See, below, a photo of Lincoln from the LC taken during his presidency, illustrating his massively high forehead, lengthy neckline, long and prominent nose, over-sized ears, and rounded, jutting chin.

LC 3c00623v The forward-facing visible grandstand spectators in the scene captured by Gardner were standing on the highest tiers of the speakers’ platform, looking down over others standing beneath them and then ultimately over as many as three rows of chairs on the lowest level of the front of the rostrum set up in a bowed orchestral-like formation. They are seen staring at the singular object of their collective attention fronting the speakers’ platform. It is estimated that they were at a distance of at least 100 yards from Gardner’s camera location (the focal acuity of the dual lenses of Gardner’s camera at this distance was very good so long as objects remained still throughout its four to five second exposure and were not shaded from the sun — note: the second Gardner photo had an exposure time of at least 10-12 seconds). One hatless military man strains to peek at Heberton’s Lincoln by looking over the right shoulder of a taller, mutton-chopped Colonel Henry P. Martin who is standing in front of him also without a topper. Some other men are hatless too. Even the men with their backs to Gardner on horseback — who are situated between Gardner and the rostrum — are all oriented in the direction of Heberton’s Lincoln, appearing equally transfixed.

The only person in the scene not looking at Heberton’s Lincoln is the boy circled in yellow, above. Heberton’s Lincoln gazes down upon upon that boy benevolently with a leftward-tilted, cocked head. The angle at which Heberton’s Lincoln’s hat is oriented results in its motion-obscured brim blocking all of the November sun’s rays from his face. People who knew Lincoln described that he came to favor wearing unusually wide brimmed hats. The boy fronts Heberton’s Lincoln in the manner seen because he is seated in front of Heberton’s Lincoln, presumably on the same saddle of a hidden horse. A large white-gloved left hand from Heberton’s Lincoln — palm side up, with fingers extended — obscures the boy’s mouth and chin from Gardner’s camera. We may see a portion of the boy’s right hand grasping the right side of his face as if he cannot believe what is happening to him and/or looking at something before him in semi-amazement. Possibly standing before the boy at the moment was a portion of a detachment of the Invalid Corps extending an official greeting to their president. These men were wounded at the battle of Gettysburg and deemed unfit to be returned to combat duty but capable of performing other services. They may have been gathered to greet Lincoln near the eagle finial-topped staff (seen within the detail, above, to the far right) stationed to mark the beginning of the corridor of soldiers positioned in front of the rostrum. In the words of one eyewitness — “Easily the feature of the parade was a detachment of forty soldiers who had been injured in the battle and who had been removed to the military hospital at York, thirty miles to the east. They were sent to represent their comrades, every one bearing the marks of the fearful struggle, many of them on crutches. They carried a large white banner draped in mourning which bore this inscription on one side: ‘Army of the Potomac, Gettysburg, July 1, 2, 3, 1863.’ and on  the other side appeared the likeness of a funeral urn and the tribute: ‘Honor to our brave soldiers.'” Why might Lincoln have scooped up a boy appearing to be around the age of 10 and placed him on his saddle in front of the speakers’ platform? The context of what was then happening provides a cogent answer: Lincoln’s 10 year-old son, Tad, was back at the White House fighting a potentially life-threatening case of smallpox. Mary Todd Lincoln had urged her husband not to go to Gettysburg in light of Tad’s serious condition (she also was recovering from being thrown from the Lincoln’s carriage and injuring her head in an accident she believed to have resulted from an act of sabotage). Lincoln received telegrams in Gettysburg from Stanton and his wife before riding in the procession which assured him that Tad was improving rather than taking a turn for the worse. Those messages must have taken some of the huge weight off of his shoulders. Many accounts describe how focused Lincoln was on touching, greeting, kissing, and shaking hands with the children he encountered in Gettysburg.  For example, Rev. D.A. Dickson recounted that — “As the Presidential party in the procession was passing through the Public Square on its way to Baltimore Street, a man standing close to the line held high in his arms his little girl dressed in white. Lincoln reached out his long arms, lifted the child to a place on his horse before him, kissed her, then handed her back to her happy father.” Thus, we have at least one account of Lincoln bringing a child up onto his saddle — in this case, a stand-in for the daughter Lincoln never had. The boy seen on the saddle of Lincoln’s horse in the first Gardner stereo view may have served as a form of temporary surrogate for his beloved Tad. Had Tad not been ill, he might have accompanied his father and mother to Gettysburg and ridden on the saddle of his father’s horse. Several accounts confirm that students who were directed to walk at the back of the procession from the town center were brought forward once they reached the cemetery and passed through the massive crowds with Lincoln’s entourage to the very front of the speakers’ platform. The boy we see in Gardner’s stereo view may have been one of those children — the luckiest of them all.  Below is a photo of Lincoln with Tad from the LC:

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Trailing behind Heberton’s Lincoln, wearing white gauntlets on his hands, is Colonel James Barnet Fry, then the Provost Marshal General (boxed in blue in the first image, above). He is seated atop his horse closer to Gardner’s camera than Heberton’s Lincoln and may have been executing a left-handed salute with a riding crop in his left hand. Fry was Marshal-in-Chief Ward H. Lamon’s boss in Washington, D.C. — in Lamon’s capacity as the U.S. Marshal for the District of Columbia — and had been designated by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton to serve as Lincoln’s special escort in Gettysburg. Fry later wrote: “I was designated by the Secretary of War as a sort of special escort to accompany the President from Washington to Gettysburg upon the occasion of the first anniversary of the battle at that place. At the appointed time I found the President’s carriage at the door to take him to the station; but he was not ready. When he appeared it was rather late, and I remarked that he had no time to lose in going to the train. ‘Well,’ said he, ‘I feel about that as the convict in one of our Illinois towns felt when he was going to the gallows. As he passed along the road in the custody of the sheriff, the people, eager to see the execution, kept crowding and pushing past him. At last he called out, ‘Boys! you needn’t be in such a hurry to get ahead, for there won’t be any fun till I get there.'” The column in which Lincoln rode in the procession, consisting of Marshal-in-Chief Lamon (Lincoln’s former law partner and confidant), Secretary of State Seward, Secretary of the Interior John P. Usher, and Postmaster-General Montgomery Blair, was immediately trailed by Provost Marshal General Fry’s column. Personally attending to Lincoln’s safety was Fry’s highest duty in Gettysburg. Detail from each of the stereos of the second Gardner stereo view from the LC’s collection, taken an estimated minute after the first view, can be seen below. According to Bob Zeller, no other outdoor Civil War photographs framing the exact same space are known to have been shot with such rapidity. This makes sense given the enormous amount of time required to take a wet-plate glass negative and then develop it on the spot.

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It can be seen that the area occupied by Heberton’s Lincoln in the first Gardner view is still the object of the spectators’ earnest and focused attention in the second Gardner plate. One thing which did change, however, is that all visible men on the rostrum are wearing their hats. The men who were hatless in the first view are now covered. This suggests that men who had uncovered their heads in the first view had done so out of respect for a person they had been viewing or a ceremony involving that person. Many accounts state how men on the speakers’ platform removed or doffed their hats in a showing of respect for Lincoln when he appeared before them.  Colonel Henry P. Martin and the soldier peering over his right shoulder are prime examples. Between the shooting of the first and second Gardner stereos, those two soldiers returned their kepis to their heads after doffing them. The same stovepipe hat adorned by a mourning band in the first Gardner stereo view, is visible in the exact same location in the second stereo view (see the hat under the arrow, below).

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Only this time, the hat is partially fronted by the “ghost image” of a man’s face. The ghost image resulted from the fast movement of the man’s head. It can be shown that the man probably had bowed forward towards Gardner’s camera because the underside of the wide brim of his upward-tilted stovepipe hat clearly can be seen.  The photographic capture of his ghost image resulted in rendering his face and his facial hair an opalescent white. Only his dark, deep-set brows remained true to their actual color. Along with his dark  brows shaped like diacritical circumflex accents, his long nose is very similar to Lincoln’s and he appears to have deeply indented cheek lines as well as a beard covering his rounded chin. See below to view detail within the LC’s second Gardner photo, with a super imposed side-by-side studio image of Lincoln taken by Gardner in Washington, D.C. eleven days before the Gettysburg ceremony. Unlike the studio view, Heberton’s Lincoln’s lips are not pursed. His mouth is open and he appears to be smiling, explaining why his face is a bit longer than the studio image. There are no existing photographs of Lincoln smiling or posing with an opened mouth. This might be the only image we will ever see of him doing either.

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Thus, it appears that the second view, for which there was a much longer time of exposure than the first view by a factor of 2 or 3 times as deduced by other visual evidence, captured two images of Heberton’s Lincoln: (1) his mourning band adorned hat seen in relatively good clarity and (2) a second and later exposure of his ghost image fronting that hat with the translucent face of Heberton’s Lincoln. The ghost image resulted either because Heberton’s Lincoln bowed his head forward and then raised it back up to reveal his face and hat in an up-turned position or possibly even after he reached down to deposit the boy seen on his saddle in the first view back to the ground. There are several accounts describing how Lincoln was not inclined to gesticulate with his hands, choosing instead to bow to his left or right from atop his horse to acknowledge the crowd’s reaction to him within the procession to the cemetery grounds. One reliable account even describes that Lincoln did not gesticulate with his hands during his now famous consecration oration, rather he bowed from side to side to emphasize various points within his short Gettysburg Address. From the context of what was going on around Heberton’s Lincoln in both the first and second Gardner stereo views which literally were taken “back-to-back” by the standards of 1860’s wet-plate photography, we know precisely where Lincoln was located thanks to the collectively focused gaze of the crowd and the presence of Lincoln’s special escort, Provost Marshal General Fry, a few feet behind him. The fact that the two Near-in-Time Gardner photos were taken in rapid fire succession, followed by a third view much more distant in time, establishes that Gardner was not merely taking generic crowd shots. The visual evidence, although not of the same quality as one might hope to obtain in a studio photograph taken from a distance of a few feet rather than outdoors from 80 to 90 yards with thousands of people present, also is supportive, albeit subject to more than one interpretation. But even what Heberton’s Lincoln wore is extremely supportive. Heberton’s Lincoln is the only Lincoln candidate wearing a mourning bandThis is a critical observation independent of all of the other evidence. He also wore white gloves. Simply because the American intelligence community did not have a photograph of Bin Laden’s face before conducting their raid, the presence and actions of key people around Bin Laden gave them a sufficiently high degree of confidence that he was where they surmised he would be. As it turned out, they were right. The same holds true with respect to the Gardner stereo views. One doesn’t have to look at Heberton’s Lincoln images and declare that they are 100% matches to the studio images of Lincoln to which we all have become accustomed. Taken in combination with a well-reasoned evaluation of the comparative contextual details within each of the three Gardner scenes, Gardner’s true intentions are revealed along with the true location of Abraham Lincoln. Unlike Professor Christopher Oakley, I did not go searching in the hope of finding Lincoln within these photos. Instead, I studied these digital images originally to determine whether John J. Richter’s Lincoln is the “real McCoy” or if William A. Frassanito was correct in maintaining that Gardner only desired generic crowd shots because it was impossible for Lincoln to be anywhere other than seated upon the speakers’ platform completely obscured from Gardner’s camera. Mr. Frassanito, who has admitted in interviews to not being internet savvy, blogged through a friend in 2008 that in light of all of the evidence, “it seems evident to me that the two Gardner stereos were recorded subsequent to the occupation of the speakers’ stand by both Lincoln and the numerous dignitaries who followed him into the National Cemetery” and that Lincoln “would already have been seated on the speakers’ stand, patiently waiting for the ceremonies to begin, i.e., the speeches, etc.” For these and other reasons, he assigned a 20% probability that Mr. Richter and his colleague Bob Zeller had struck real gold rather than fool’s gold. See http://livingonthefield.blogspot.com/2008/01/william-frassanitos-problems-with-john.html. My book concluded that Mr. Frassanito’s position that Gardner’s photographs were mere “crowd shots” and not intended to capture Lincoln within any of the scenes is erroneous because an enormous amount of visual and documentary evidence says otherwise. Abandoning his prior position that Lincoln could not possibly be arriving at the speakers’ platform when any of the Gardner stereos were taken, Mr. Frassanito stated a new position in the October 2013 Smithsonian Magazine that he is 80% certain that Lincoln is visible in the second Gardner stereo view arriving, according to Professor Oakley, at the speakers’ platform. 80% is a very high number in light of the assignment of a failing 20% probability to the same proposition only 5 years earlier.  Nearly all of the six or seven reasons cited by Mr. Frassanito in 2008 against the proposition that that the Gardner stereo views cannot possibly show Lincoln arriving at the speakers’ platform (including those articulated in a Civil War News interview conducted by Deborah Fitts) have not been affected in any way by the new ultra-high resolution scans obtained by Professor Oakley sometime during the first three months of 2013. That is because those now abandoned arguments merely were based upon a contextual interpretation of the views rather than the physical features of Richter’s Lincoln. His only remaining contention from 2008 against John Richter’s Lincoln candidate which still applies today is that the appearance of Richter’s Lincoln reveals that he “was undoubtedly nothing more than an anonymous, historically insignificant civilian official … that followed the dignitaries into the National Cemetery” and who was “hardly the focus of Gardner’s attention.” One of Mr. Frassanito’s 2008 arguments — that “Lincoln did not ride alone in the procession … [and] it is well documented that Lincoln was accompanied and flanked by several mounted civilians, including the chief marshal and three members of Lincoln’s cabinet (one of whom was six-feet-tall and undoubtedly wearing a hat). The individual identified by John appears to be completely unaccompanied by any mounted escorts [emphasis added]” — undercuts Professor Oakley’s position. Because Professor Oakley maintains that his candidate for Secretary of State Seward was seated in the first Gardner stereo view for ten minutes before Oakley’s Lincoln magically appeared out of nowhere in the second Gardner stereo view, Professor Oakley is left without any rational explanations for why everyone ignored and no one accompanied Oakley’s Lincoln in the second view … if he really is Lincoln. (Except as otherwise noted, all images hereinabove are courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

THE 150th ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEDICATION OF THE GETTYSBURG SOLDIERS’ NATIONAL CEMETERY

It was an honor to attend the 150th Anniversary of the Dedication of Gettysburg’s Soldiers’ National Cemetery on November 19, 2013. My thanks to everyone who made my visit an unforgettable experience. Please note that all of the images below are subject to a copyright in favor of Craig Heberton IV who reserves all rights. — Craig Heberton

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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.

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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

10/3/13 Press Release: Should Oakley’s Lincoln Sit Down?

3 Oct

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 3, 2013

CONTACT:

Judy Ault

WMI Books

1-888-490-0100

WMIbooks.com

lincolnatgettysburg@gmail.com

https://abrahamlincolnatgettysburg.wordpress.com/

SHOULD OAKLEY’S LINCOLN SIT DOWN?  CIVIL WAR AUTHOR CRAIG HEBERTON CASTS DOUBT ON THE PROFESSOR’S FINDINGS

 

CROZET, VA – 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 the October 2013 issue titled: “Will the Real Abraham Lincoln Please Stand Up?”  The article announced a photographic discovery by Lincoln devotee and UNCA Professor, Christopher Oakley, that places Abraham Lincoln in one of the Alexander Gardner photographs. Heberton’s photographic discovery points to a much more likely figure of Lincoln.  Heberton and Oakley make a case for two entirely different figures as the true Lincoln — but who is right and why?

What makes the Heberton Lincoln a more compelling choice? The pictures tell the real story, along with over two years of research to back it up. To make his case, Heberton has created a blog https://abrahamlincolnatgettysburg.wordpress.com/ that sheds light on the differences between Oakley’s Lincoln and his own – compelling research data that raises serious doubts about Oakley’s conclusions.  Read the blog (and the book) and view the photographs for yourself.

Here are some highlights:

Why Oakley’s Lincoln is wrong:

Oakley’s Lincoln is completely ignored by the crowd whereas Lincoln was the center of attention on his arrival;

No dignitaries are on their feet to greet Oakley’s Lincoln when he alone begins mounting steps to the platform;

Oakley’s Lincoln is unaccompanied by the three attending members of Lincoln’s Cabinet (Seward, Blair, and Usher); accounts state that Lincoln immediately followed them onto the platform;

Oakley doesn’t place his Lincoln on the platform until ten minutes after Sec. of State Seward is seated;

No men in the crowd removed their hats in a show of respect for Oakley’s Lincoln;

The nose on Oakley’s Lincoln is “hawk-shaped” and does not match Lincoln’s nose;

The alleged beard on the chin of Oakley’s Lincoln is tucked downwards into his shirt and is so much darker than his other facial hair, suggesting it is a large bow tie rather than a beard;

Oakley’s Lincoln is on the far right of the platform buried several rows back; all accounts and photos place Lincoln in the front and center of the speakers stand.

Why Heberton’s Lincoln makes more sense:

His Lincoln is the center of focused attention from nearly all visible platform spectators in two photos while atop his horse directly in front of the speakers’ platform;

Some men on the platform doffed their hats for his Lincoln;

His Lincoln is positioned near a presidential-appearing eagle finial topped staff;

Lincoln wore white gauntlets over his extremely large hands and was preoccupied with the children at Gettysburg, patting their heads & bestowing kisses;

His Lincoln extends a large white gloved hand in front of a boy’s face seated on the front of his saddle;

His Lincoln precedes Lincoln’s special escort sent by Sec. of War Stanton to safeguard the President, consistent with an account that the escort rode behind Lincoln in the procession;

Within the shadows is revealed a distinctive bearded chin and a large ear and long nose, appearing like Lincoln’s;

A line of contrast in darkness on his Lincoln’s hat betrays the presence of a hat band which Lincoln wore in honor of his deceased son Willie; and

Movement by his possible Lincoln throughout the 2nd exposure created a long and narrow opalescent ghost-image face, smiling at the camera, which appears to have a bearded small chin.

To learn more about Heberton’s photographic discovery of Lincoln and the latest in the Lincoln at Gettysburg photographic debate, please join us online at Facebook and Twitter and follow the book’s blog:

https://abrahamlincolnatgettysburg.wordpress.com/

Facebook and Twitter:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Abraham-Lincoln-at-Gettysburg/338089372973741

https://twitter.com/WMIbooks

Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg:

A Review of Alexander Gardner’s Stereoscopic Photos:

http://www.amazon.com/Abraham-Lincoln-at-Gettysburg-ebook/dp/B00AEY2HWQ/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1357345561&sr=8-3&keywords=heberton

October 2013 Smithsonian Magazine Article:

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

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Where is Lincoln? Heberton Takes on the Flaws in Oakley’s Case

27 Sep
Gardner1stphoto 178 Lincoln DS
Where is Lincoln? Read what Heberton reveals in the ebook: ABRAHAM LINCOLN AT GETTSYBURG
Gardner #1

Gardner #1 photo detail

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Detail of Lincoln’s face under his stovepipe hat in Gardner #1 photo

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Detail of Lincoln’s white-gloved hand (boxed) in Gardner #1 photo

Gardner #2

Gardner #2 photo (right stereo) detail

Gardner #3

Gardner #2 photo (left stereo) detail

Bachrach #4

Bachrach photo detail

In September 2013, the Smithsonian Magazine published an online article which is to appear in their October issue about a new photographic discovery of Lincoln at Gettysburg. Craig Heberton, author of ABRAHAM LINCOLN AT GETTYBURG, made his own discoveries on the same topic and published his ebook well before the Smithsonian piece. His findings differ from Professor Oakley’s in several significant respects, including his identification of President Lincoln in Alexander Gardner’s stereoscopic plates. Working independently of Prof. Oakley and all of the men whom the professor has named as his co-collaborators, Mr. Heberton offers a fresh “outsiders” perspective on the Gardner Gettysburg views.

Here is a link to the Smithsonian Magazine article:

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

If Heberton is correct, he has uncovered a poignant scene of Lincoln stationed atop his horse directly in front of the speakers’ platform which he would later surmount to give his Gettysburg Address.  Heberton has concluded that a young boy is seated on the front of Lincoln’s saddle in the first Gardner photo.  Here he describes his discovery:

In an emotionally evocative scene, Lincoln paternalistically gazes down upon the boy from behind, with his head tilted to the side, while thrusting one of his large white gloved hands out towards the thousands of spectators standing before him as if to say to the boy — “what do you think about all of this?” To put this into context, at that moment Lincoln’s 10 year- old son, Tad, was back at the White House battling a potentially fatal case of smallpox. The boy on Lincoln’s saddle looked the part of a boy Tad’s age — a form of a stand-in for his missing son. This was not what I expected to see when I began to study Gardner’s stereoscopic slides three years ago — a journey which began when a colleague called one day and said, “I’m e-mailing you a photo and I want you to tell me where it was taken, when it was taken, what it represents … and if you see Lincoln anywhere in it. OK?”

When Heberton first saw the Smithsonian article he was impressed with the technical skills applied by Professor Oakley in his research as described in the article. But he was greatly disappointed by the identity and location of Oakley’s candidate for Lincoln. Maybe even more disappointing was Oakley’s claim that Lincoln “accidentally” appeared in one of Gardner’s photographic efforts essentially because Alexander Gardner had photographed Lincoln before. Here Heberton describes his reaction to Oakley’s revelations:

Professor Oakley claims that Alexander Gardner had taken plenty of posed photos of Lincoln on prior occasions and had no use for any images of Lincoln upon the former Gettysburg battlefield among the thousands who gathered to honor the dead Union soldiers and to dedicate the new cemetery in an event described by the media as the greatest gathering of famous dignitaries perhaps since Lincoln’s inauguration, if not in that century. According to Oakley, Gardner was more interested in creating a stereoscopic slide of himself posing in front of soldiers and spectators on the cemetery grounds (taken by his assistants) than he was of trying to capture Lincoln. The professor maintains that perhaps his greatest discovery was finding a man whom he identifies in the foreground as Gardner in the same photograph in which his Lincoln “accidentally” appears in the background — sort of a modern day version of clicking a photo of yourself on your mobile phone standing in front of the White House and later discovering to your surprise that President Obama accidentally appears in the background hunched over in your digital image while standing next to his seated Secretary of State Kerry, unaccompanied by any security, and completely ignored by a throng of visiting dignitaries and foreign ambassadors who are standing with their backs to him! What would be the odds of that?

They say that the devil is in the details and here Heberton addresses some of his disagreements with the Lincoln identification made by Civil War historian and animation wizard Christopher Oakley:

Why Oakley’s Lincoln is wrong.

  • His Lincoln commands no attention from the crowd
  • No dignitaries are on their feet preparing to greet his Lincoln
  • Men in the crowd have not removed their hats in a show of respect
  • The nose on his Lincoln is “hawk-shaped”
  • The “beard” on his Lincoln’s chin is tucked into his shirt and many shades darker than the rest of his facial hair
  • His Lincoln’s “beard” is just as likely a bow tie
  • His Lincoln is on the far right of the platform seated behind other people when all accounts and the Bachrach photo place Lincoln in the front row and center of the stand

 

Why Heberton’s Lincoln makes more sense:

  • His Lincoln is the center of focused attention from nearly all visible platform spectators
  • Some men on the platform doffed their hats for his Lincoln
  • His Lincoln is positioned near a presidential-appearing eagle-finial topped staff
  • Lincoln wore white gauntlets over his extremely large hands at Gettysburg
  • His Lincoln extends a large white gloved hand in front of a boy’s face seated atop his horse
  • Accounts note that Lincoln was preoccupied with the children at Gettysburg, patting their heads & bestowing kisses
  • His Lincoln is in front of Lincoln’s special escort sent by Sec. of War Stanton to safeguard him, and who rode behind Lincoln in the procession to the cemetery from the center of town
  • Within the shadows of his wide brimmed stovepipe hat is revealed Lincoln’s distinctive bearded chin and a large ear and long nose in the first photo
  • A line of contrast in darkness on his Lincoln’s hat betrays the presence of a hat band which Lincoln wore in honor of his deceased son Willie
  • His Lincoln’s movement throughout the 2nd exposure created an opalescent ghost-image smiling at the camera which is possibly a distorted representation of the long and narrow face of Lincoln with a small bearded chin

Follow Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg on Facebook and Twitter:

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

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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The Photos of Lincoln at Gettysburg Under Debate – Which is Lincoln?

27 Sep

Pictures tell the story here and the experts differ on their interpretation of the photographs in determining which figure is Lincoln. There are tantalizing observations supporting why each of their picks for Lincoln, either in one or two of the Alexander Gardner stereoscopic scenes, is more credible. Evidence within the historical record and the context of what can be seen, however, are contrary to Professor Oakley’s position but supportive of Heberton’s. Take a look at the photographic evidence for yourself and then read some of the detailed research Heberton has compiled in support of his findings and compare it with that of animation expert Oakley and the opinions of the Civil War photography experts featured in the October 2013 issue of SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE:

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

01 Gardner1stsphoto 17807uLincolnIDs-1

1st Gardner photo detail: Heberton’s Lincoln boxed in red; position of Oakley’s Lincoln in green; from about a 150 degree angle to the front of the speakers’ platform.

01aGardner1stphotodetail - 17807u-lincoln3-1

Zoomed detail from 1st photo showing Heberton’s Lincoln’s face within shadows cast by brim of his stovepipe hat;
he is on his horse directly in front of the speakers’ platform with a boy appearing to be about 10 years old on the front of his saddle; he is facing away from the platform generally in the direction of a tall eagle finial topped staff; this photo probably depicts a brief solemn ceremony performed upon Lincoln’s arrival within the procession near the front of the platform

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Detail from 1st Gardner photo shows Lincoln’s outlined face and boxed white gloved hand

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2nd Gardner photo detail (right stereo): Heberton’s Lincoln boxed in red; Oakley’s in green; both remain in same positions as the 1st Gardner photo

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2nd Gardner photo detail (left stereo): Heberton’s Lincoln boxed in red; Oakley’s in green

02 Gardner2dphoto17806 Image 5

Zoomed detail from 2nd Gardner photo (right stereo) showing “ghost image” possibly of Heberton’s Lincoln’s face in a long exposure photo in which several other people also are represented by multiple images

02 Gardner2dphoto17806

Zoomed detail from 2nd Gardner photo (right stereo) showing “ghost image” possibly of Heberton’s Lincoln’s face in a long exposure photo in which several other people also are represented by multiple images
Direct view of stand

Detail from photo attributed to David Bachrach taken at about a 65 degree angle to speakers platform; Lincoln was discovered seated in the center of the front row of the platform in 1952 with his head tilted to his right; compare positions of several people marked in this photo with their positions marked in detail from the Gardner photos, below:

Oakley vs. Heberton Lincoln Comparison Photo

Comparison of the 1st (above) and 2nd (below) Gardner photos showing the static positioning of several key people, including Oakley’s candidates for Lincoln (boxed in red) and Seward (boxed in yellow) on the extreme far right end of the platform seated behind several men; note particularly the positioning of the Cowlick aide in the Bachrach photo and the Gardner photos to get a sense of the relative perspectives of the two photographers and how out of place Oakley’s Lincoln is to Lincoln’s seating in the Bachrach photo

Experts differ on what these photos reveal and where Lincoln is located.  Can you find him?  Heberton’s research and analysis explains why Oakley’s Lincoln cannot possibly be Lincoln based upon WHERE the professor has located him (about to be seated at the far right end of the platform) in only the 2nd Gardner photo and WHAT Oakley claims he was then doing (climbing steps leading to the lowest level of the platform):

First, go to the Bachrach photo and find Sec. of State Seward and President Lincoln seated in the center of the front row upon the lowest level of the platform. Then within the same photograph find the Cowlick aide (one of Chief Marshal Lamon’s ceremonial aides) — who is facing towards Seward and Lincoln — as well as the Dark hat man (behind the Cowlick aide) and the Beard Man (behind Gov. Tod). From right to left, the people visible in the front row on the speaker’s platform are — Gov. Tod, Gov. Seymour, Gov. Curtin, Gov. Curtin’s son, the Cowlick aide (standing), Judge Casey (another white sashed marshal’s aide who is standing), Provost Marshal General James B. Fry who was Lincoln’s special escort (standing – he probably is a step back from the front row), Edward Everett (standing probably while orating), Lincoln, and Ward Hill Lamon (then occupying the seat for Edward Everett), etc. Notice too where Italian Minister Bertinatti is seated and that he and the men around him are at an odd angle vis-a-vis the three governors in the front row. If this photo detail extended further to the right, you would come to the area where Oakley claims his Seward is seated and his Lincoln will be seated several rows BEHIND the front row. This area is best pinpointed by locating the Cowlick aide particularly in the 1st Gardner photo (with his distinctive cowlick sticking out from the left side of his head like a horn).  His back is to Gardner’s camera in both the 1st and 2nd Gardner photos. Whereas the Cowlick aide faces Lincoln in the Bachrach photo, it clearly can be seen that Oakley’s Lincoln was seated several rows BEHIND the Cowlick aide in the Gardner photos and, therefore, cannot possibly be Lincoln because he should be seated beyond and on the OTHER side of the Cowlick aide. Oakley’s Lincoln and Seward are located nowhere near the real Lincoln and Seward.

Gardner’s first stereo view – aka 652 – (First, second, third, fourth & fifth photos, above):

This detail is from the left stereo, file 17807u.if, at LC’s: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cwpb.00652/

Gardner’s second stereo view – aka 673 – right stereo (sixth, eighth & ninth photos, above):

This detail is from the RIGHT stereo, file 17806a.tif, at LC’s: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/ppmsca.17806/

Gardner’s second stereo view – aka 673 – left stereo (Seventh photo, above):

This is detail from the LEFT stereo, file 04063.tif, at LC’s: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/ds.04063/

David Bachrach’s photo (Tenth photo, above):

This detail is from Bachrach’s photo, file 07639.tif, at LC’s: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cwpb.07639/

Comparison between detail in Gardner’s 1st stereo view and his 2nd stereo view (Eleventh photo above):

This detail in the top image is taken from the left stereo of Gardner’s 1st photo, file 17807u.if, at LC’s: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cwpb.00652/

The detail in the bottom image is taken from the left stereo of Gardner’s 2nd photo, file 04063.tif, at LC’s: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/ds.04063/

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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