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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • TAKE A KODAK, c. 1930s

Abraham Lincoln: 1865

Abraham Lincoln: 1865

February 5, 1865. "Abraham Lincoln, seated, holding spectacles and a pencil." Glass transparency; photograph by Alexander Gardner. View full size.

 

Colored Lincoln

Colored Linkoln

Mary A. Livermore

wrote of Mr. Lincoln (whom she met personally on a number of occasions in her work with the Sanitary Commission).

No painter has ever put into the sad face of the President any hint of the beauty that could radiate and completely metamorphose his homely features, when his great soul shone out through them. 'No sculptor has ever liberated from the imprisoning marble the face that shone like an angel's when the depths of his large heart were reached. "No artist is successful," said Healy, - one of the most successful painters of portraits, - "who does not bring out on the canvas, or in the marble, the best there is in his subject, the loftiest ideal of Nature when she designed the man." If this be true, then neither painter nor sculptor has ever been successful with Mr. Lincoln's face.

Personally, I see in his face deep compassion and wish I had known him myself.

Secular Saint

It is not for nothing that "Lincoln" (as his friends called him) is the secular equivalent of a saint. No irony intended. Lincoln rose from absolutely nothing to the highest power and influence. Yet each year, he became a better person. (Compare and contrast out political hacks of this day.)

How heart-wrenching

this photo just tears at my heart.

Only in America

The adulation that Americans show for their presidents is both laughable and very unhealthy.

[In the case of Abraham Lincoln, I'd have to disagree. He was an exceptionally able and intelligent chief executive. - Dave]

Parker Pen

According to Wikipedia the Parker Pen Company was founded in 1891, hence Lincoln did not use a Parker Pen.

Abe's Inker

President Lincoln wrote with a Parker Fountain Pen. I've seen it.

You are wrong..

JULIE ROSS BIRMINGHAM

I really like this picture. This picture reveals to me what I was taught in school. Honest Abe, Abraham Lincoln walking miles for a book. Mind you I was about 7 or 8 years old when I was taught this. I am now 66. My grandmother rented her home to a gentleman named Mr. Bellamy. On one of the stays he told me the President was of all things not the man I had been taught.

He (Mr. Bellamy) did not like him. Mr. Bellamy said his familey had lost all because of Civl War. I was devasted. I think in my child mind I tried to defend the President. I still think about that incident when I see anything to do with Honest Abe. I still think he is a noble man. I know now the cost of the War on both sides. I know if he had not been shot by Booth the South would have had a much different future.

Thanks your patience. I know this was a long diatribe.

Living and Everywhere

Finally, an image of the President that doesn't look as if it was carved out of granite. And now I recognize him - or his many likenesses. They are everywhere - the worn, darkened, gaunt homeless men as portrayed in countless media images are the people today who bear a striking resemblance to President Lincoln. I never saw that until now.

Aging Presidents.

This I know from experience - virtually anyone would prematurely age if they have lost their most beloved child. For Lincoln, that was Willie.

If you are an honest parent, you have a favorite. If you are a good one, you will never disclose who it is; each should think they were "it".

The war was too much for Lincoln to bear. Losing Willie was too much for him to bear. Through both he endured. For him to bear it all and still plan on kind and generous terms for the vanquished South was the best measure of his greatness.

The country would have been completely different had he lived. Kennedy too. History was changed, and for the far worse, by the transfer of power to hands not remotely as up to the task.

I'd Imagine So

Yes his eyes appear haunted, I'm sure he witnessed some real tragedies in his time. Lincoln made choices that few men have ever had to make, or ever dreamed of having to face. He was, and is a great man.

Lincoln's watch

I wonder if he's wearing the watch that's been in the news lately?

Good-humored man

When a woman once accused Lincoln of being two-faced, he replied: "My dear lady, if I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?"

He was a good man with a sense of humor

What's he holding?

Any idea what he's holding? At first, I thought it was a couple of pens in the one hand, but I don't believe there were ink pens back then.

[Read the caption. - Dave]

Abe's Health

I have heard for years that, mainly based on his appearance, Lincoln could have had Marfan's Syndrome and would have surely died from that. Today I ran across a website drzebra.com ("zebra is fake doctor is real"), who has written a book on the subject. He believes that Lincoln was dying from multiple endocrine neoplasia. That diagnosis is based in part on the deaths, before age 20 of three of his sons and a lot of other things. Interesting stuff, but he IS trying to sell books.

Willie

The war was one thing, but he also never recovered from the loss of his beloved son, Willie, at age 11. He was aging in dog years from both factors.

The real A.L.

He's such an interesting looking guy, and you're so used to thinking of him as a picture, it's hard to imagine sometimes this guy actually walking down the street. I can't really think of anyone who looks much like him today.

Unretouched

I've heard that many times. The eyes are the mirrors of the soul and poor Abe shows the toughness of all the sorrows he endured in the wizened eyes and beaten-down optimism that once may have lived there. He gave his all and yet this original heartbreak kid could not attain peace of any kind. Not to mention that in 1865 real men did not submit to "coifs", makeup, manicures, personal fashion consultants, plasticizing of any kind. He had bigger fish to fry, his life was never a day at the spa. But look at the CHARACTER in the biography written in that face. Tell me that isn't beautiful.

Hint of a smile

That's more of a smile than I'm used to seeing on pictures of Mr. Lincoln. Tired, haunted eyes, yes, but also humor and affability.

The Best...

This is the best portrait photo you've ever run on this site. Thank you.

Haunted, indeed

600,000 dead Americans -- from a nation of around 20 million. Who could bear such a burden?

And a question: Going into the summer of 1864, he was certain that he would lose re-election, and lose big (draft/race riots, Copperheads, bad press, etc.). If Sherman doesn't capture Atlanta in September, does Lincoln lose? If he is voted out after one term, does history view him as the guy who sacrificed half a million men to an abstraction? This is the face of a man who asked himself that question. Amazing photograph; thanks for this.

The unidealized Lincoln

This detailed photo shows me how idealized the familiar paintings and sculptures of Lincoln are. It's not surprising that his contemporaries regarded him as unattractive.

He wouldn't have been looking to retirement at this time since he had just been re-elected and was yet to even be sworn in for his second term. He was already looking ahead to his plans for Reconstruction.

The Bedhead Is Dead

Makeup!

Crooked

I'm curious about the crooked tie. Was Lincoln careless? Debonair? Showing his frontier cred? I Googled some contemporaries.

Salmon Chase - more symmetrical.

Frederick Douglass - pretty neat.

Edwinn Stanton...indeterminate.

Haunting Photo

How I would have liked to talk to this man, if only for five minutes. The wisdom that endures in his speeches, the sadness in his eyes, the love that he must have had for our country. It is all too overwhelming and yet haunting at the same time.

Last photos

The cracked Gardner photo of Lincoln is part of the National Portrait Gallery's Mask of Lincoln exhibit.

While the 1865 Gardner images are indeed the last studio portraits, the last photos of Lincoln were taken at the White House by Henry Warren on March 6, 1865.

Last Studio Portrait

I believe this is the last studio portrait of Lincoln to have survived whole and intact. Another photo was taken after this one, but the glass negative cracked and was discarded.

Late Lincoln

Man, he doesn't look long for this world. I wonder how long he would have lived if Booth hadn't intervened.

Stress

A look at recent presidents before and after office is plenty proof of the stress of the job but there is probably no better example than President Lincoln, in my opinion. I appreciate what he did for our country and can only imagine the sleepless nights and internal struggles this man went through. It's evident in his face. He looks exhausted.

Proof

This exquisite photo proves that one picture can be worth a thousand words. I can sense Lincoln's personality.

So care worn

In this day and age we idolize Mr. Lincoln for many obvious reasons. Perhaps, in 1865, he was merely a very tired, very care worn man who had somehow held the Union together, ended slavery and survived many tragedies, both personal and professional. It is merciful that he didn't know what was next for him. He was hoping for retirement with Mary.

Amazing shot.

What an amazing photo! The Hi-Def version really captures the hard lines from a tough life on President Lincoln's face. Hard to believe he was only 56 years old. Thanks for the great post.

Poor Mr. Lincoln

He looks old and haunted. I mean, look at his eyes.

 
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