1. This is the oldest known photograph of Abraham Lincoln, taken in 1846 by Nicholas H. Shepherd in Springfield, Illinois when the future president was in his late 30s—and clean-shaven.


History Freak / Nicholas H. Shepherd

2. Alexander Hesler snapped this photo of Lincoln in 1857. Before the photo was taken, Hesler tried to tidy up the young lawyer’s hair before the shoot, but Lincoln chose to ruffle it up again anyway. This, as told by politician and newspaperman Joseph Medill, set the tone for the rest of Honest Abe’s career.


Wikimedia Commons / Alexander Hesler

3. This print from 1860 was recovered from a lost negative. It may have been altered to make Lincoln appear younger, making it a fascinating look at photo manipulation before the days of Photoshop.


Wikimedia Commons / William A. Shaw

4. This photo was taken by J.C.F. Polycarpus von Schneidau in 1854, when Lincoln was 45.


Wikimedia Commons / Polycarp Von Schneidau

5. Another portrait by Alexander Hessler in Springfield, Illinois, this 1860 photo was among Lincoln’s favorites. “That looks better and expresses me better than any I have ever seen; if it pleases the people I am satisfied,” he said.


Wikimedia Commons / Alexander Hesler

6. Another photo from Springfield, Illinois, this time was taken by Preston Butler at his studio in 1858.


History Freak / Preston Butler

7. Abraham M. Byer personally approached Lincoln on the street for this shot, also taken in 1858, on the same day as the momentous William “Duff” Armstrong case. Lincoln had successfully acquitted Armstrong for murder. Lincoln initially refused to have his picture taken; he was concerned that his clothes were too dirty.


Wikipedia Commons / Abraham Byers

8. Snapped by Samuel G. Alschuler in Urbana, Illinois, this portrait might be one of the few to showcase an ever-so-slight hint of a smile. Lincoln was amused because he had borrowed Alschuler’s coat, which was “a quarter of a yard” too short in the arms.


Samuel G. Alschuler

9. Taken in 1859 by Samuel Fassett at Chicago’s Cooke and Fassett studio, this one was a favorite of none other than Mary Todd Lincoln herself. “Mrs. Lincoln pronounced [it] the best likeness she had ever seen of her husband,” wrote Cooke.


Wikimedia Commons / Samuel M. Fassett

10. On the same day that Mathew B. Brady took this photo in 1860, Lincoln famously made his Cooper Union Speech, in which he argued his ethical opposition to slavery. The speech certainly made waves, but the photograph was such a hit that Lincoln claimed that “Brady and the Cooper Institute made me president.”


Wikimedia Commons / Matthew M. Brady

11. Taken sometime between March and June of 1861, this is believed to be Lincoln’s first post-presidency photograph. It is now considered “the most valuable Lincoln photo in existence,” sold in 2009 for $206,500 at an auction.


Wikimedia Commons / Christie’s

12. This 1862 photo by Alexander Gardner depicts Lincoln with General George McClellan after the Battle of Antietam near Sharpsburg, Maryland.


Wikimedia Commons / Alexander Gardner

13. Here’s another by Gardner with Lincoln and McClellan soon after the battle of Antietam. One can’t help but notice how Lincoln towers above the rest.


Wikimedia Commons / Alexander Gardner.

14. In this photo, also by Gardner, Lincoln poses next to a tent that was occupied by the U.S. Secret Service. To the left of Lincoln, dressed in civilian garb, is Scottish-born Allan Pinkerton, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1842 and formed the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. Major General John A. McClernand stands at Lincoln’s right.


Wikimedia Commons / Alexander Gardner

15. Again taken by Gardner, this picture displays Lincoln with two of his closest aides, John Hay and John Nicolay, in 1863.


Wikimedia Commons / Alexander Gardner

16. Alexander Gardner took this profile shot in 1863 in Washington, D.C., where Gardner had opened a studio that same year.


Wikimedia Commons / Alexander Gardner

17. This relatively lively photo was part of Gardner’s series taken in his Washington D.C. studio in 1863, after Honest Abe promised to be Gardner’s first subject. Lincoln chose a Sunday so as to avoid “curiosity seekers and other seekers.”


History Freak / Alexander Gardner

18. This is one of at least three photos that Lincoln had taken in Matthew Brady’s studio in 1864—the same year he was reelected.


History Freak / Matthew Brady

19. Pictured here with his son Tad, this February 1865 photo shows a more playful side of Lincoln. Tad earned his nickname because as a baby he was  “as wiggly as a tadpole.”


Wikimedia Commons / Alexander Gardner

20. This is the last known photograph of Lincoln before he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth in April 1865. He looks appropriately melancholy.


Wikimedia Commons / Henry F. Warren

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