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Abraham Lincoln’s “Shroud Of Turin”

By Wyatt Earp | April 14, 2009

JLINCOLN14AThere is an historical debate raging with respect to the 16th president, and it is raging in my own backyard.

Apparently, scientists believe that Abraham Lincoln was dying of cancer when he was shot by John Wilkes Booth in 1865. The trouble is that they would have to damage a priceless artifact to confirm or deny the claims.

History comes alive, indeed.

One hundred and forty-four years ago tomorrow, Abraham Lincoln was watching a play at Ford’s Theatre in Washington when John Wilkes Booth slipped into the president’s box and shot him.

Lincoln died the next morning, and now his blood and brain matter - on part of a pillowcase at a Philadelphia museum - are being sought for DNA testing that may definitely solve a medical mystery.

Was the 16th president dying of cancer at the time of the assassination?

How bizarre would that be? Could have saved Booth some time and effort, huh?

John Sotos, a cardiologist, an author, and a consultant for the television series House, wants to test the artifact to confirm what eyewitness accounts and 130 period images already tell him: Lincoln had a rare genetic cancer syndrome called multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2B (MEN2B).

But Sotos’ request has stirred an ethical and scientific debate on the board of directors of the Grand Army of the Republic Museum and Library, an off-the-beaten-path Civil War institution in the city’s Frankford section.

I have to be honest, I never even knew this Museum existed. I feel much shame.

Should the museum grant permission for the testing and enjoy the spotlight when the results are announced?

Or should it reject Sotos’ request, avoid damaging the artifact, and honor the wishes of Robert Todd Lincoln to leave his father in peace? (H/T -

Personally, I think they should leave the pillowcase alone. Whether or not Lincoln was dying of cancer is immaterial. It is interesting, but not interesting enough to damage the artifact. Robert Todd Lincoln’s wishes should be honored in my opinion.

Topics: Philly |

14 Responses to “Abraham Lincoln’s “Shroud Of Turin””

  1. Doghouse Says:
    April 14th, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Family should have the first say, and family has said no. That should settle it.

  2. USA_Admiral Says:
    April 14th, 2009 at 11:55 am

    I agree. What difference would it make?

  3. GroovyVic Says:
    April 14th, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    I concur.

  4. Mark Says:
    April 14th, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    They should let it be and find something more useful to research.

  5. bill Says:
    April 14th, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    This doesn’t mean Ed Asner and Mike Farrell are going to start a “Free John Wilkes Booth” movement does it?

  6. Rick Says:
    April 14th, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Leave the pillow case alone. What does it matter if Lincoln had cancer or not? It does not matter.

  7. Wyatt Earp Says:
    April 14th, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Doghouse - Amen to that!

    Admiral - I wouldn’t make any difference to Abraham Lincoln.

    GroovyVic - I figured you would.

    Mark - Like maybe curing said cancer?

    Bill - Oh, I certainly hope not!

    Rick - Unless it can resurrect him . . .

  8. Diller Says:
    April 14th, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Let the family wishes stand. Doubt that Booth was assisting in a Dr. K moment. Plus these guys would probably do a TV special with Geraldo.

  9. Petey Says:
    April 14th, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    The family doesn’t want the test. End of discussion.

    However interesting it may be to find out if Lincoln had a cancer, it doesn’t change the fact that John Wilkes Booth entered his balcony in Ford’s Theater and placed a projectile into the back of Lincoln’s head at a high rate of travel, thus causing his death. Does it change the fact that Lincoln fought to keep the United States united? No.

  10. Jon Brooks Says:
    April 14th, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Leave it as part of the history and mystery of the man.

  11. Alan B Says:
    April 14th, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Agree totally with what Jon says (as if it makes any difference what I think!)

  12. RT Says:
    April 14th, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    I’d have to say I agree with you. What point is there to finding out if the man had cancer?

  13. Echosix Says:
    April 15th, 2009 at 10:46 am

    There is more to history than the documenting of trivial data points. Leave his remains in peace.

  14. Alan B Says:
    April 16th, 2009 at 3:47 am

    Second thoughts. This has nothing to do with finding out more about a great man. It’s all about getting publicity for the individuals off the back of a great man, whether they suceed in what they want or not.

    Definitely NOT.