Lincoln's Grave Robbers

Lincoln's Grave Robbers

"We're  in the basement Learning  to print, all of it hot Ten-twenty-thirty  million dollars ready to be spent We're  stackin' 'em against the wall Those  gangster presidents" --The  B52s, "Legal Tender" "Making  fake paper money was a lot trickier than making coins. For a successful  operation, you needed a whole network of distributors and shovers to spread the  coney in various cities. You needed lots of cash to put together the team, and  to pay for the most vital member -- a talented, experienced engraver. But none  of this discouraged coney men, since the potential payoff was so great. By 1864  an astounding 50 percent of the paper money in circulation was  fake... "Americans  were beginning to lose faith in the green slips of paper. And if citizens  stopped trusting the currency, there'd be no way for the government to pay for  the war. The entire economy would collapse. A very frightened Treasury  Department responded in 1865 by creating the Secret Service, and charging the  agency with leading the fight against counterfeiters.

Today we think of Secret  Service agents as the guys in dark suits protecting the president, but that happened later. Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, then President James Garfield in 1881, and then President William McKinley in 1901. Only then  did it occur to Congress that someone should be guarding the president, and they gave the job to the Secret Service. Back  in the 1870s, the one and only task of the Secret Service was to stop the  counterfeiters." LINCOLN'S  GRAVE ROBBERS is the true and oft-times wacky story of how a bunch of criminals  involved in the counterfeiting trade sought to steal the corpse of Abraham Lincoln so that they could essentially hold it ransom and subsequently exchange it for outlaw engraver Ben Boyd -- reputedly the best of his kind in the country  -- who was in Federal prison, along with a bunch of cash (and I don't mean the  counterfeit stuff). Fortunately, participants in the scheme were already in the  cross hairs of Secret Service operative Patrick Tyrrell, and this led the plan to ultimately fail (even though there is a significant Keystone Cops element to  the tale). In  the process of learning the story about this body snatching scheme gone terribly  wrong, we come to also know the early history of counterfeiting in America, and  we get great, detailed instructions on how coney men would pass the counterfeit  bills and get away with it -- even if someone immediately pegged one as being counterfeit or even if the coney was grabbed in the act by a lawman.

Throughout  the story we are also exposed to a wealth of colorful terms -- such as bone orchard; boodle carrier; cracksman; flush times; out of joint; roper; shover;  and toes up -- that are later compiled and defined in a Glossary of  Phrases. Set  against the historic presidential election of 1876, LINCOLN'S GRAVE ROBBERS is  an exciting, bizarre, and memorable tale about good guys and bad guys and how  money makes the world go round.  224 pages  Ages 10 and up Recommended by:  Richie  Partington, MLIS, Librarian, California USA See more of his recommendations:  Richie's Picks _http://richiespicks.com_ (

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