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A rare photograph taken at Gettysburg the day President Abraham Lincoln gave his famous address is stirring a debate among historians who are trying to determine where exactly Lincoln is in the photo.
The blurry photo was discovered by John Richter six years ago, notes Fox News. He believed that the man on a horse with a stovepipe hat saluting soldiers was Lincoln. But Disney animator Christopher Oakley told the Smithsonian Magazine that this man was not Lincoln.
Instead, Oakley believes that Lincoln is in that crowd, but is actually standing closer to the speakers’ stand.
Oakley, who teaches at the University of North Carolina-Asheville, had been working on a recreation of the Gettysburg Address for his students at his home as part of a Virtual Lincoln Project. He found a copy of the photo while his team looked through the Library of Congress’ archives to find other images from that famous day in 1863.
(image: David Bachrach / Brady-Handy Collection / Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division; Graphic: 5W Infographics - Smthsonian Magazine)
As Oakley began examining the photo with his students, they recognized other famous faces, including members of Lincoln’s cabinet. “Everything lined up beautifully,” he told the Smithsonian. “I knew from the one irrefutable photo of Lincoln at Gettysburg that [Secretary of State William H.] Seward sat near him on the platform.” So, he concluded that Lincoln must have been sitting near other dignitaries.
Then, Oakley spent $73 for a high-resolution version of the photo from the Library of Congress. “It's the best $73 I ever spent,” he said. “As soon as I had that in my hands, I was able to look at it much more clearly."
Oakley thinks that the man Richter believed was Lincoln was actually a military officer, based on the epaulets on his shoulders and the fuller beard, distinguishing him from Lincoln. LiveScience also notes that it is believed that Ronald Reagan is the first president to actually salute the troops when he did so in 1981, breaking with presidential traditions.