WASHINGTON, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- A noted U.S. historian has been banned for life from the National Archives after confessing he altered a document signed by President Abraham Lincoln.
However, the historian, Thomas Lowry, insisted the confession was given under pressure from federal agents, The Washington Post reported Monday.
The document in question is a pardon of a Union soldier who was to be executed for desertion. Lincoln signed it April 14, 1864, but someone altered it 13 years ago at the National Archives to make it appear Lincoln signed it April 14, 1865 -- the day he was assassinated.
Lowry and another amateur historian were credited with the find and Lowry gained a higher profile in his field, the newspaper said. A Civil War expert at the National Archives, following a gut feeling, researched the matter and determined the pardon's true date -- but in the meantime, the document was regarded as one of the most significant Civil War history finds in a generation, the Post said.
Archives Inspector General Paul Brachfield said Monday investigators concluded Lowry altered the document. He said Lowry had confessed to two federal agents during a surprise visit to his home.
Lowry, 78, told the newspaper he made the confession under pressure and denied he altered the Lincoln document.
"I consider these records sacred," he said. "It is entirely out of character for me. I'm a man of honor."
Lowry's wife accused a former Archives staffer of altering the document but Archives officials deny that, the Post reported.
The statute of limitations on prosecuting the offense has run out but Lowry may never again set foot in any Archives facility, officials said.