The Secret Plot to Hold Abraham Lincoln’s Dead Body for Ransom
Till death do us part (or not in the case of President Lincoln)
If being the president of the United States of America wasn’t a feat important enough, imagine being a president so important that people won’t let you rest in peace even after your assassination. This was the tale of Abraham Lincoln (R-Illinois), the 16th president of the U.S.
Lincoln was assassinated on April 14th, 1865, by John Wilkes Booth, a famous actor, and Confederate sympathizer, at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. The assassination occurred just three days after the end of the American Civil War. Although the story of the assassination and the reasons why it took place is an account in itself, what happened to the president after his killing is what fascinates me more.
But why kidnap a dead man?
Now, imagine what one might be able to do if they possessed the dead body of America’s greatest president. The plot to kidnap the dead president was fueled by no underlying reason other than personal gain and glory, where the stolen body of the president could be held for ransom.
In the 1800s, counterfeiting became extremely common in America. This problem grew to an extent where amidst the chaos of multiple different currencies being issued by banks and the civil war, it was thought that counterfeiting would significantly disrupt the entire American economy. Abraham Lincoln, during his presidency, established a single national currency and also ordered the Secret Service to capture counterfeiters.
During this time of mass counterfeiting, one person in America was acknowledged as America’s greatest counterfeiter: Benjamin Boyd. Boyd used to work for a Chicago syndicate run by James “Big Jim” Kinealy.
However, Lincoln’s legislation to arrest counterfeiters resulted in Boyd being sentenced to prison in 1876, 11 years after Lincoln’s death. Subsequently, with Big Jim’s top man gone, his business was in a wrecked state. He had to do something to get Boyd freed from prison.