Have the investigators on PBS? long running series History Detectives discovered an authentic signature from President Abraham Lincoln? Viewers will get to see, as part of a captivating, all war-themed episode premiering on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 (8:00-9:00 ET) on PBS (check local listings).
Royal Oak Historical Society Museum curator Muriel Versagi had come across a fascinating artifact ?an envelope, which contained a scrap of paper with a signature by Lincoln. At first glance it appeared to be a military discharge signed by him; the note reads: Let John S. Ennis, named as within, take the oath of Dec. 8 and be discharged. The words are scribbled on the back of a square cut from an unfamiliar document. But the small size of the document ? and the fact that it wasn?t written on official letterhead ? questions the authenticity of the letter.
Series host Tukufu Zuberi is on the case as he and a team of historians help Versagi verify the signature and identify who Ennis was. For assistance, Zuberi visits the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and meets with James Cornelius, PH.D. This message coupled with the document reveals a key Civil War practice history textbooks often overlook ? very rarely did the U.S. allow Confederate prisoners-of-war to sign an Oath of Loyalty (a.k.a the oath of December 8) to switch sides and ally with the Union, for amnesty. Was Ennis ? a private and a Confederate POW ? one of these exceptions?
The episode airing on July 31, 2012 features these locally based spokespeople:
Muriel Versagi – Royal Oak Historical Society Museum Royal Oak, MI
James Cornelius – Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum Springfield, IL
Tukufu Zuberi co-host of History Detectives