CHICAGO -- An Abraham Lincoln researcher in Virginia has admitted that he altered the date on a pardon to make it appear that the document was the among the last official business handled by the 16th president before his assassination, according to the National Archives.
Thomas Lowry, of Woodbridge, Va., is said to have admitted he changed the date from April 14, 1864, to April 14, 1865, the day of Lincoln's assassination at Ford's Theater in Washington, according to a statement on the National Archives website.
Lowry gained a measure of fame from the document, which pardoned a Union soldier who had been court-martialed for desertion, when he claimed in 1998 that it was one of the last -- if not the last -- official action Lincoln took before his death.
The document was held in the National Archives with the erroneous date, but came under scrutiny when an archivist noticed that the "5" on the date appeared to be written in darker ink and there seemed to be a shadow image of another number behind the digit.
This month, Lowry admitted to investigators that he used a fountain pen with "fadeproof, pigment-based ink" to change the date.
Lowry can't be prosecuted for the alteration, according to the National Archives statement, but he has been banned from the agency's buildings. Workers at the museum are trying to determine how to return the 5 in the document to a 4.
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