Lincoln Photograph

Lincoln Photograph (HM138N)

Location: Beardstown, IL 62618 Cass County
Country: United States of America

N 40° 1.075', W 90° 26.07'

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Abraham Lincoln had just won an acquittal for his client William Duff Armstrong in what is now known as the celebrated Almanac Trial of May 7, 1858. At the conclusion of the trial, held on the second floor of the Cass County Courthouse in Beardstown, a young entrepreneur named Abraham Byers invited Lincoln to walk to his nearby studio for a short photography session. No doubt, Lincoln was tired and perhaps looked forward to supper and then retiring to his room at the Dunbaugh House. According to some accounts, Lincoln initially declined Byers' invitation, insisting his suit was too rumpled and that he would make a poor subject. In the end, Byers convinced him to post. Byers made use of the newest photographic technique called ambrotype, which produced a picture by imaging a negative on glass backed by a dark surface. Byers took two photos, one of which was lost or, according to some accounts, discarded by Byers. The other shows an obviously tired Lincoln attired in a white linen suit, seated with his right arm resting on the arm of a chair. A copy hangs in the courtroom where Lincoln defended Armstrong.

Abraham Byers' famous May 7, 1858, photograph of Abraham Lincoln is a seven-by-nine-inch ambrotype, mounted in an ornate brass frame. Taken at Byers' Beardstown studio, it is the only known portrait of Lincoln in a white suit. Also,it is generally believed to be one of ten photographs taken of Lincoln during 1858. Owned by the University of Nebraska, the photo is usually kept in a vault, though it was displayed at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., during the bicentennial celebration in 1976.

As Abraham Lincoln was no ordinary lawyer, Abraham Byers was no ordinary photographer. in fact, this man who took the famous portrait of Lincoln in a white suit was not really a photographer. A store clerk, Byers settled in Beardstown for time, but spent much time in Nebraska engaged in land speculation. He gained ownership of the photography studio in a settlement of an unpaid load. Byers taught himself the art of ambrotype photography. In the 1850's, Byers developed a friendship with Lincoln, according to his daughter, Olive Byers Hayes. In 1861, Byers married Mary Tull in Beardstown. Later they moved to Aledo, Illinois, where Byers became a successful banker. Byers remarried after Mary's death in 1902. He eventually went to Omaha, where he passed away in 1920. his widow Zora, donated the famous photograph to the University of Nebraska.

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Details
HM NumberHM138N
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Tags
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, October 5th, 2014 at 10:04am PDT -07:00
Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15T E 718945 N 4432898
Decimal Degrees40.01791667, -90.43450000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 1.075', W 90° 26.07'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 1' 4.50" N, 90° 26' 4.20" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)217
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 101-199 S State St, Beardstown IL 62618, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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