Mind If We Dig You Up, Mr. Lincoln?

Why the 16th President Can’t Be Left in Peace

Election night 1876 arrived full of uncertainty. The presidential race was something of a referendum on Reconstruction, and the results were so tight that the winner was unknown. It would be months before a special commission awarded 20 disputed electoral votes, and the presidency, to Rutherford B. Hayes.

With all the attention on the election, it was the perfect night to pull off a crime. In the town of Springfield, Illinois, several thieves went to work on stealing a body from the local cemetery.

And not just any body.

It was the body …