Stealing Lincoln's Body

Stealing Lincoln's BodyOne of the strangest, most intriguing, and yet almost unknown episodes in American history unfolded in 1876, eleven years after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

A band of Chicago counterfeiters hatched a plot to steal the President’s body from its tomb outside Springfield, Illinois, and hold it for a ransom of $200,000.

A paid informant told the newly formed Secret Service. When both the police and the criminals showed up at the cemetery on the appointed night, the scheme was foiled.

This feature-length special explores the peculiar confluence of historical trends and cultural movements that prompted the crime: the birth of counterfeiting, the growth of embalming, and the influence of secret societies in American life, among others.

But above all, the story shows how important this beloved President remained to a public so unprepared for his violent death in 1865. Startling and informative, this is one of those tales you have to see to believe.

Watch the full documentary now

Ratings: 8.73/10 from 26 users.

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9 Comments / User Reviews

  1. j3andit

    I actually read about this somewhere awhile ago, nice find!

  2. Jonathon Wisnoski

    Sounds like it would not of been a good crime to do. A lot of people really liked him, and if the police/secrete service had not of caught them I would think that it would be hard to hide from the entire USA population.

  3. afly_on_the_wall


  4. zaciiz

    Definitely worth the watch. I'd heard theories about this story, but never in this detail. Not to discredit the film by picking at small stuff, took the 3 counterfeiters half an hour to file through a padlock, but they managed to cut the foot off of Lincoln's marble esophagus? Just had to ask. Anyways, watch it.

  5. lil_literate

    interesting story, but not a very good documentary. It's big budget and the old authentic pictures of the times are cool, but they take an hour an half to tell a 20 minute story. i thought it was interesting too how they dealt with Lincoln creating the "greenback" national currency. they say that until Lincoln came along private banks issued their own currency, and that doing business without a standard currency was chaotic. but having one type of currency made it easier for cournterfeiters to operate. I've seen other documentaries on this site that suggest Lincoln created the "greenback" as a way to fund the civil war without having to borrow money from private bankers at outrageous interest levels (as the government does now from the privately owned fed) and that's why he was killed. who the hell knows. history can be written a hundred different ways. but it's almost always written by the winners.

  6. Jonny McCupcake

    I can't stand all your comments, you ruin every interesting looking doco before I watch it. How about enjoying a doco rather than watching the whole thing just so you can find things to criticise. It would be better that you discussed the topic of the doco, and had an interesting, meaningful conversation.

  7. ELena Longoria

    Despite one's opinions about Lincoln, which are indeed highly debatable, I think this is a fascinating documentary, full of interesting historical information, not just about the conditions of Lincoln's death, but of the era in general.

  8. Deb Nilles

    For how much I appreciate this endeavor by the History Channel, I am personally very disappointed that although they literally quote the words out of his mouth more then once in this documentary, the name of John C. McGinn is not mentioned even once in this historical recount by The history Channel. He is one of the Pinkerton Detectives mentioned who guarded Lincoln's body that night and in fact is the person who physically arrested Mullins. I have dozens of newspaper articles and book references published on this topic and every one of them repeatedly mentions John McGinn; except, this documentary. A terrible omission.

  9. Enzu

    How about you watch the documentary before reading the comments?

    Thumbs up to Vlatko for finally putting a "scorecard" where you can "score" the doc. Been waiting for it for a long time. Thanks!

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