Stroke of Pen Altered Date, and a Tale of Lincoln, Too

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

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

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