Lincoln's Body

Lincoln's Body

Lincoln’s body has been moved 17 times and was nearly stolen.

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On the day of his assassination, Lincoln formed the Secret Service, the organization now tasked with protecting the president. The Secret Service was created to combat counterfeiting, rather than to protect the president, but it did manage to protect Lincoln well after his death.

In 1876, a Chicago-based counterfeiting ring schemed to steal Lincoln’s body from its unguarded tomb in the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois, and hold it for ransom. The plot was to be carried out by two men, Terence Mullen and Jack Hughes, but neither had any experience stealing bodies, so they recruited a third man, Lewis Swegles. Swegles, however, was an informant for the Secret Service.

Mullen and Hughes attempted the heist on Nov. 7, 1876, election night, but they found that they were unable to lift the 500-pound coffin that was lined with lead. Furthermore, Swegles alerted authorities who moved in on the two men and were soon able to arrest them.

For a host of reasons, Lincoln's body was exhumed and moved 17 times after his burial. Finally, it 1901, a new tomb was constructed. After his coffin was partially opened and 23 witnesses confirmed that Lincoln's body was inside, it was encased in 4,000 pounds of cement.


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