Stealing Lincoln's Body
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Stealing Lincoln's Body

Ratings: 8.61/10 from 38 users.

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.

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11 Comments / User Reviews

  1. brodeo

    Only got 1 min of the documentary. Shiz Broken

  2. Charles K. Johnson

    @ Elena Longoria "Despite one's opinions of Lincoln, which are indeed highly debatable..." What in the actual ufck are you talking about? Sure there may be a few folks south of the Mason/Dixon who think Lincoln was soft and that "the south will rise again!" Outside of those 14 people, one of whom you are probably married to, it's widely accepted by the rest of the world, that Lincoln was TRULY a man of the People. I'd say that he is probably the greatest Human Being to ever breathe, definitely the best to come from the United States. He had bouts of depression sure, and could sometimes seem forlorn, but to me, that makes him much more like the rest of us! Your comment kind of comes off as someone who probably had a thesaurus close at hand while typing. Take that as you may, or if able even. "Indeed!" HA GTFOH!
    @ Deb Nilles- Another thesaurus reader hey? Thats cool, but the reason your ancestor is not mentioned in the story, is because it's NOT HIS STORY!
    For anyone else who happens to watch a given Documentary, TV Show, Movie, etc. only after reading it's reviews or comments. WATCH THIS ONE RIGHT NOW!!! I cannot express how great it is at capturing the mood of our country immediately following "The Great Emancipator's" tragic death. For history buff's like myself, and probably everyone who seeks this program out, it's quite trans-formative(ty thesaurus) to be sure! I give it 5/5*!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

    1. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. afly_on_the_wall


  9. 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.

  10. j3andit

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