Robbing Lincoln’s Grave?

Did you know that there have been attempts at stealing Abraham Lincoln’s body? Well, I didn’t until last night.

It turns out there were several attempts to steal Lincoln’s body, the first happening in 1876, eleven years after he died. I found this all out while watching the History Channel last night. The program was titled Stealing Lincoln’s Body. Here’s a description of the show, straight from the History Channel website (I figure they can explain their show better than me):

Before Lincoln finally came to rest in a steel-and-concrete-reinforced underground vault in Springfield, the president’s body was repeatedly exhumed and moved, his coffin frequently opened. In 1876, eleven years after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, a band of Chicago counterfeiters plotted to steal Lincoln’s body and hold it for ransom. Their plan was to demand $200,000 and the release of the gang’s master engraver, who was in prison in Illinois. The Secret Service–recently formed to deal with the country’s ballooning counterfeiting problem–infiltrated the gang with an informer. It also set in motion a cringe-inducing chain of events in which a group of well-intentioned, self-appointed guardians took it upon themselves to protect Lincoln’s remains by any means necessary. This strange story of Lincoln at un-rest reveals how important this man was to so many, and our reluctance to let such a beloved and visionary leader go.

It was a very interesting show. It’s funny, I really wasn’t that into History in school. However, the older I get the more I get into history. Here I am, again with the “get off my lawn”. 🙂

Anyhow, I was cruising around the web this morning looking for more information. I found two very interesting articles from the New York Times from that era.

I love the title of this first one: MR. LINCOLN’S TOMB.; THE DASTARDLY ATTEMPT TO DESPOIL IT– THE ROBBERS INTERRUPTED BY ACCIDENT. First of all, I’m a huge fan of the word dastardly. Secondly, the rest of the article is just as over-the-top as the headline suggests. Good times.

The second article is about the arrest of the would-be-grave-robbers: ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S TOMB.; ARREST OF TWO MEN IN CHICAGO WHY THE ATTEMPT AT ROBBERY WAS MADE.

The craziest thing about the whole mess was the guys only got a year in prison. It turns out there was no law against grave robbing at the time, or at least not in Chicago.

Anyhow, I found the whole debacle fascinating. Just thought I’d share.