History Alive

Season 4 Episode 9

Stealing Lincoln's Body

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Aired Unknown Feb 16, 2009 on The History Channel
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Stealing Lincoln's Body
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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 perhaps our reluctance to let such a beloved and visionary leader go.moreless
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