Ulysses Grant VI, the direct descendant of the more famous Civil War General and US President Ulysses S. Grant, believes that he has found the last photograph ever taken of Abraham Lincoln in his ancestor’s private album.
The photograph was taken on March 6th, 1865, and is of the White House with several people standing in front of it. Keya Morgan, a New York-based photography collector and Lincoln aficionado, examined the photograph and found an inscription on the back reading “Lincoln in front of the White House”, likely written by the son of President Grant and the current Ulysses Grant’s great grandfather, Jesse Grant.
There was more evidence. There was the date, 1865, and official seal of the photographer, Henry F. Warren, and an official government stamp that was issued for such photos for a fee to help finance the war effort. And the presence of Henry Warren in Washington during that date is well documented.
Still, it was not obvious that Abraham Lincoln was in the photograph, according to AP.
“You can see the White House, a short gate that once lined the building, and, on the lawn, a Thomas Jefferson statue that was later replaced with a fountain. Five people can be seen standing in front of the building. The tall man’s face is obscured, but zooming in on the image with a computer reveals a telling beard.”
Keya Morgan jokes, since President Lincoln didn’t pose for the photo, that it may have been the first case of a paparazzi taking an unauthorized photograph of a celebrity.
One can just imagine what Abraham Lincoln was thinking as he stood in front of the White House with his four companions. President Lincoln has just been inaugurated for his second term, during which he had made his famous speech “With malice toward none; with charity for all…” The Confederacy was by then in its death agony and the end of the Civil War was not in doubt.
In less than three weeks, General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia would make its last offensive at Petersburg, an attack that was quickly broken. A week after that, General Ulysses Grant’s Army of the Potomac put Lee’s Army to flight and entered Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy, in triumph.
Two days after that, President Lincoln himself would visit the ruins of Richmond. The newly freed African Americans, who had heard of Lincoln as they might have heard of Moses, looked upon their liberator as if he had come down from the heavens. It is said that Lincoln was just as moved by the reception he got.
Five days later Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House. Five days after that, President Lincoln with his wife Mary attended a play at Ford’s Theater called My American Cousin and was shot to death by a southern fanatic and actor, John Wilkes Boothe.
That was thirty nine days after the Henry Warren photograph.
Source: Collector: Lincoln photo uncovered in Grant album, Brett Zongker, AP, March 10th, 2009