Saturday, March 15, 2008

"Stealing Lincoln's Body"

Tonight my Civil War history buff husband said he wanted to go to the local Civil War round table. I have gone and there have been ones that are interesting, but there have been ones that I found very boring. I looked up the topic and I decided to go.

Tom Craughwell author of "Stealing Lincoln's Body" spoke. He was an excellent speaker and the topic was interesting. It all started with Lincoln's death and the argument between Mrs. Lincoln and the government about where he was to be buried. As should be, Mrs. Lincoln won, however, the other events would not have happened if he had been buried where the government wanted to bury him.

In the 1800's more than half of the money was counterfeit and Benjamin Boyd was one of the best counterfeiters. When he got caught in 1876, this Irish crime lord was so disappointed about losing his source of money that he concocted this plot to steal Lincoln's body, bury him in Indiana and send a ransom letter in exchange for the pardon and release of Benjamin Boyd and $200,000 cash.

The rest of the story is so full of unbelievably stupid things that this would make a great comedy. The crime lord hired these three to do the physical labor that sounded more like the three stooges--one of them was a counterfeiter also, however, unlike everyone else who did paper money, he did nickels. Anyway, the story is one of mishaps, a spy, a stake out in stocking feet and when the plan doesn't work, a literal cover up of where Lincoln's body was moved to and a secret society called, Lincoln's Guard of Honor who protected his body. They told Robert Lincoln where he was, but other than that, no one knew but the guard.

When a new tomb was being constructed in 1901, Lincoln's body had to be moved again and to be sure it was him, they opened the tomb which was sealed in lead. A 13 year old boy named Fleetwood Lindley was a son of the Guard and his father had him come. When the casket was opened the body was perfect and it was Lincoln without a doubt. (I guess the lead preserved it). Anyway, the reason that was mentioned was that that boy died in the 1960's and he was the last person to see Lincoln's body.

Anyway, it was a pretty good Civil War evening. I hope it does get made into a movie. The author said it is being considered. It would really make a good comedy and they wouldn't have to embellish many of the facts because the robbers weren't too swift. It was an interesting part of history that I had never heard of before this. I believe Lincoln had a good sense of humor and I bet even he would have found this comical.

As for me, if someone takes my bones, tell them they can have them. That won't be me any more. I'll have no use for them. You don't have to pay the ransom money.

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