Thursday, May 10, 2007

Now what did I just say about stealing?

You, dear readers, no doubt have noticed by now my enjoyment of the absurd news story. It's that imbalance of intelligence that fascinates me that humankind can put a man on the moon and at the same time resort to name calling (think ho-bag). Yet, I believe today I write my first comments on an absurd news story that occurred nearly one hundred and fifty years ago.

My beloved alma mater is Valparaiso University known for such things as a single basketball shot and, well, that's about it. But the surrounding area boasts Chicago, Gary, and the Indiana Dunes. The latter nearly became a lot more famous than "cheap hot spot for college students" as it is otherwise known.

"Stealing Lincoln's Body," a new book by Thomas J. Craughwell, brings to light an otherwise obscure plot to grave rob our 16th President. The idea was not some well thought out Confederacy revenge point that some might expect. Rather, a gentleman and his gang of thugs who were already being monitored for counterfeit money thought they could steal Lincoln's corpse, run off to the Indiana Dunes, and hold it their for ransom. They needed only get through a single padlock and some plaster of paris, and the gang would have the sarcophagus as there was no security and the tomb was above ground.

The problem arose when one of the gang happened to be an informant of the Secret Service who promptly notified higher powers of the shenanigans. A steak out ensued, shots were fired, the thieves got away, and in the dark the good guys shot at themselves. The good news is that Honest Abe stayed put and the Indiana Dunes were instead destined for obscurity.

Interestingly, the reason the kidnapping plot is little known is that it received very little coverage even in 1876 when it occurred. Why? Rutherford Hayes was eeking out victory over Samuel Tildon to become the nation's 19th President on this very night.

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