Is One of the Most Famous Abraham Lincoln Photographs Really Lincoln’s Head Super-Imposed on Another Person’s Body?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about the world of photography and whether they are true or false.

PHOTOGRAPHY URBAN LEGEND: A famous photograph of Abraham Lincoln is actually a picture of Lincoln’s head superimposed on another man’s body!

To put the following into context, do note that photographs as we now know them today basically only started around the 1820s.

So to see “photoshopping” like the following images in 1860 is pretty remarkable!

In 1860, a photograph of the Republican Presidential candidate Abaraham Lincoln were circulated (photographer unknown). It’s a dynamic, statesman-esque piece.

However, it’s also not actually Abraham Lincoln’s body!

As you can see here, it is Lincoln’s head affixed to the body of the venerable Southern statesman (and former United States Vice President) John Calhoun!!

Calhoun had died a decade before this photograph was “made”!

I do not know when the photo manipulation took place.

The legend is…


Thanks to Henry Farid’s piece on photo tampering through the years for the lowdown on this switcheroo!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is

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