The Search for Lincoln

Photographer Alexander Gardner's studio made two stereo views a few minutes apart (this is the left side of the second). Independently, Christopher Oakley and John Richter studied the images for signs of Lincoln.

Richter's Lincoln

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One Scene, Two Sightings

In 2007, Richter identified a man on a horse as Lincoln. Last spring, Oakley identified a different Lincoln in this higher-resolution scan of the left side of Gardner's second photo.

Richter's Lincoln

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Oakley's Lincoln

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Using the newer scan, Oakley identified this man as Alexander Gardner.

No visible mourning band on hat Beard too long and full Hair length too long and over the ears and collar Military epaulets

Oakley thinks that Richter's man cannot be Lincoln. See some of the reasons why above.

Oakley's Lincoln
Click in the circle to see Lincoln's profile
Seward Lincoln
Profile On Off

Oakley overlaid a portrait that Lincoln had sat for just a few days earlier on the man he picked out of the crowd.

The Bachrach photograph

David Bachrach's photograph was believed to be the only one of Lincoln at Gettysburg. Oakley used it to identify the prominent figures who surrounded the president.

Move mouse over photo to discover who else has been identified

Abraham Lincoln
U.S. President

Rev. Henry Louis Baugher
President of
Gettysburg College

John Brough
Governor-elect of Ohio

Clark Carr
Commissioner of the Gettysburg Cemetery

Edward Everett
Former Secretary of State (1852-1853)

Benjamin French
Commissioner of
Public Buildings

James B. Fry
Provost Marshall General
of the United States

John Hay
Lincoln's Assistant Secretary

Ward Hill Lamon
U.S. Marshall of the
District of Columbia

Dr. Henry Janes
Regimental Surgeon for the 3rd Vermont Infantry

William McDougall
Fathers of Confederation (Canada)

William Newell
Former Governor
of New Jersey

John Nicolay
Lincoln's Private Secretary

Abraham B. Olin
U.S. Representative,
New York

Solomon Newton Pettis
Lawyer

Francis H. Pierpont
Governor, Union-controlled
portions of Virginia

William H. Seward
Secretary of State

Horatio Seymour
Governor of New York

Thomas Stockton
Former Colonel,
16th Michigan Infantry

David Tod
Governor of Ohio

President Lincoln

Interactive: Seeking Abraham Lincoln at the Gettysburg Address

A series of photographs captured in November 1863 give us a sense of what happened when Lincoln delivered his famous speech

smithsonian.com

Read the full story of how Christopher Oakley identified Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg

Take a look at the above interactive to see how Christopher Oakley, a former Disney animator, pored over photographs of the dedication ceremony at the Soldiers' National Battlefield, where President Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. There are three images of note, two made by noted Civil War photographer Alexander Gardner and one by David Bacharach.

The first screen details an identification of Lincoln made by John Richter, the director of the Center for Civil War Photography. Richter used two of Gardner's stereoscopic photographs (two identical images that, when seen together through a viewer, present a 3-D  landscape) to identify a figure atop a horse as Lincoln. The right side of the second Gardner stereo view is seen in this screen; Oakley was able to obtain a high-resolution scan of the left side of this photograph, seen in the second screen.

This second screen, the higher-resolution version of Gardner's second stereo view, allowed Oakley to identify what he sees as Lincoln in a different location. He used a variety of sources, including an identification of Lincoln's secretary of state, William Seward, and a Lincoln portrait captured days earlier by Gardner, as a marker for seeking Lincoln. Oakley, who believes that Gardner assigned one of his associates to capture this stereo view, identifies Gardner in the foreground.

The third screen provides one of the sources used by Oakley to place the various members of Lincoln's "Team of Rivals"—his cabinet. In 1952, Josephine Cobb of the National Archives identified Lincoln in a photo taken by David Bachrach. It was considered to be the only image of Lincoln at Gettysburg until Richter made his identification 55 years later.

Learn more about Oakley's work at the Virtual Lincoln Project.

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