- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 12, 2009

A collector believes a photograph from a private album of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant shows President Abraham Lincoln in front of the White House and could be the last image taken of him before he was assassinated in 1865.

If the photograph is indeed of Lincoln, it would be the only known one of the 16th president in front of the executive mansion and a rare find, as only about 130 photos of him are known to exist. A copy of the image was provided to the Associated Press.

Grant’s 38-year-old great-great-grandson, Ulysses S. Grant VI, had seen the picture before, but didn’t examine it closely until late January. A tall figure in the distance caught his eye, though the man’s facial features are obscured.

He called Keya Morgan, a New York-based photography collector and Lincoln aficionado, who helped identify it as Lincoln.

Though authenticating the 2 1/2-by-3 1/2-inch photo beyond a shadow of a doubt could be difficult, several historians who looked at it said the evidence supporting Mr. Morgan’s claim is compelling and believable.



Mr. Morgan talked Mr. Grant into taking the photo out of the album and examining it for clues, such as the identity of the photographer.

“Not knowing who the photographer is, is like not knowing who your mother or father is,” Mr. Morgan told Mr. Grant.

Mr. Grant carefully removed it and was shocked to see the handwritten inscription on the back: “Lincoln in front of the White House.”

Mr. Grant thinks his great-grandfather, Jesse Grant, the general’s youngest son, wrote the inscription.

Also included was the date 1865, the seal of photographer Henry F. Warren, and a government tax stamp that was issued for such photos to help the Civil War effort from 1864 and 1866.

Mr. Morgan recalled the well-documented story of Warren’s trip to the District to photograph Lincoln after his second inauguration in March 1865. Lincoln was killed in April, so the photo could be the last one taken of him.

Warren, a commercial photographer from Massachusetts, enticed Lincoln into his frame shortly after the inauguration by taking pictures of young Tad Lincoln and asking the boy to bring his father along for a pose, according to the book “Lincoln in Photographs: An Album of Every Known Pose,” by Charles Hamilton and Lloyd Ostendorf.

Historians say it has been decades since a newfound Lincoln image was fully authenticated.

Mr. Morgan, who has sold photographs of Lincoln and other historical figures to the Smithsonian Institution, the White House and others, said he purchased the image from Mr. Grant for $50,000 in February. It will be added to his $25 million collection of Lincoln artifacts and original images.

Several historians say Mr. Morgan has a good case.

Will Stapp, who was the founding curator of the National Portrait Gallery’s photographs department and who now appraises fine art and photographs, said he’s usually cynical about such claims. But he said he was “very satisfied that it’s Lincoln” in the picture.

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