Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln in the same photo

Today’s post comes from National Archives Office of Strategy and Communications staff writer Rob Crotty.

Lincoln’s funeral procession passing the Roosevelt Mansion in New York City (Courtesy New York Public Library)

History is full of strange coincidences, and the Civil War is no exception. In the 1950s, Stefan Lorant was researching a book on Abraham Lincoln when he came across an image of the President’s funeral procession as it moved down Broadway in New York City. The photo was dated April 25, 1865.

At first it appeared like one of any number of photographs of Lincoln’s funeral procession, until he identified the house on the corner as that of Cornelius van Schaack Roosevelt, the grandfather of future President Teddy Roosevelt and his brother Elliot.

The coincidence might have ended there, but Lorant took a closer look. In the second-story window of the Roosevelt mansion he noticed the heads of two boys are peering out onto Lincoln’s funeral procession.

Lorant had the rare chance to ask Teddy Roosevelt’s wife about the image, and when she saw it, she confirmed what he had suspected: the faces in the windows were those of a young future President and his brother. “Yes, I think that is my husband, and next to him his brother,” she exclaimed. “That horrible man! I was a little girl then and my governess took me to Grandfather Roosevelt’s house on Broadway so I could watch the funeral procession. But as I looked down from the window and saw all the black drapings I became frightened and started to cry. Theodore and Elliott were both there. They didn’t like my crying. They took me and locked me in a back room. I never did see Lincoln’s funeral.” (Read Lorant’s full story here.)

This image shows a close-up of the second story window (Courtesy the New York Times)
This image shows a close-up of the second story window (Courtesy the New York Times)

In the 1950s, there was another photographic discovery surrounding Lincoln. In 1952, Josephine Cobb, the chief of the Still Picture Branch at the National Archives discovered a glass plate negative taken by Mathew Brady of the speakers’ stand at Gettysburg in 1863. Photo enlargement later proved Cobb’s suspicions that Lincoln would be on that stand, making it the first known photo of Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, only hours before he delivered his famous address.

For more Civil War discoveries, join us tomorrow in Washington, DC, for the opening of Part Two of Discovering the Civil War.

13 thoughts on “Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln in the same photo

  1. It is truly amazing how often we pass by one another and years later are connected in some way or another. What is the word that embodies this serendipity, I think. There you go Court another topic for you to research. How often has this happened in history? Thanks for the info.

      1. Then Roosevelt is the only President so born.
        On reflection, history will likely be a less partisan judge of our current gaggle of political leaders.

  2. Teddy is considered by historians to have been one of the best POTUSes (according to Wikipedia, at least. I can’t stand him.)

    He became president because of his masculine “rough rider” persona, which he carefully cultivated, and also his pithy wordsmithing for his stump speeches. For instance, as the murder/genocide of about 100 million Native Americans was complete, Teddy gave a speech including these famous lines (which we Americans *LOOOVED*)

    “I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe 9 out of 10 are- and I shan’t inquire too closely into the case of the tenth.”

    Oddly, that quote isn’t on his Wikipedia page. I wonder why? (Sure, he is/was a piece of history. I would claim a piece of something else, too.)

    1. Teddy Roosevelt befriended the one Indian chief in the Southwest who helped pave the way for his people’s meshing into American society. That would be Comanche Chief Quanah Parker. His mother was Cynthia Ann Parker who was kidnapped by Comanches at a raid at Fort Parker (Texas) on May 19, 1836. Rachel Plummer & son James Pratt Plummer were also taken in that raid. Rachel was Luther Thomas Plummer’s first wife of 3. (They kept dying prematurely on him).
      •••L.T.M. Plummer was our Great-Great Grandfather.

  3. The title is inaccurate. It’s not really Abraham Lincoln in the photo, but Abraham Lincoln’s body. He’s dead- just a bunch of carbon.

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