Lincoln's 'Shroud of Turin'

what a comparison!!
does it really matter if he had a genetic disorder or not?

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?
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).

No. There is no way they should allow test to be done.

If we believe every report we hear about Lincoln, we’d be forced to conclude that he had cancer, Marfan’s Syndrome, was clinically depressed, had homosexual relations with Joshua Speed, syphilis, bipolar disorder, and now cancer. The man must have been a walking hospital.

Or, perhaps, the majority of them are pseudo-scientist cranks trying to cash in on the Lincoln Bicentennial. I like this theory better.

In addtion to being a brutal dictator who led a war of agressiona against a peaceful agrarian society populated by happy slaves…

what a memoir that would have been :rolleyes:

The really interesting memoir would be Mary Todd Lincoln!

I think every american should remember lincoln as history presents him, the president who presided over the union in the civil war, who was assassinated.

First of all, it is Marfan syndrome, not “Marfan’s”: a medical condition has an apostrophe s at the end if it is named for the original or most famous patient–e.g., “Lou Gehrig’s
Diseaes,” versus named after the discoverer: “Marfan syndrome”; “Asperger syndrome.”

Secondly, I don’t see the reason this test should not be done. It’s valid historical research, if nothing else, no different than any other historical research. The idea that it might harm a pillow at a museum is silly. We live in a culture that kills babies in the name of medical research, saying that moral considerations should not impede the advancement of science, and, in the “Lincoln issue,” people say it’s unethical to test the DNA of a guy who’s been dead for 140+ years because his son, who’s been dead for almost as long, said not to.

As a Marfan, I see the value in such research. Lincoln is one of our biggest claims to fame. Most people, if they hear “Marfan syndrome,” think “Abraham Lincoln.”

We’re one of the most common rare disorders, but we get no publicity. Lincoln’s about it.

Several years ago, I bought what I call my “Marfan pride” T-Shirt from the NMF. It says "LINCOLN . . . " lists a bunch of historical figures believed to be Marfs, finishes with “King Tut’s Old Man . . . and ME!”

Unfortunately, the cases that each of these people (including Charles de Gaulle and Mary Queen of Scots) had Marfan are tenuous. Pharoah Akhenaten is a pretty good call, given the historical evidence. Rachmaninoff had hypermobility, disproportionately long limbs an digits, vision problems and severe headaches (possibly caused by his vision and/or a brain aneurysm). And he died prematurely. Paganini is almost definite, esp. because doctors did evaluate him in his lifetime for his amazing musical abilities and strange physique. He was the only one who actually showed symptoms of an advanced aortic aneurysm.

But how many people know Paganini or Rachmaninoff?

That said, I’ve always figured, if Lincoln did have Marfan syndrome, it hardly debilitated him, and it hardly killed him at a young age.

Lincoln definitely had something. The deaths of most of his immediate family, plus his own chronic health problems, indicate it. He definitely had a cardiological or neurological defect (there were issues with taking his photograph, given the technology of the day, because you had to be perfectly still for like a half an hour, and Lincoln was always having spasms).

As much as I’d like him to be proven a Marf, I’ve never really seen the case for it, and the symptoms are much more matched by the other diagnosis, the one that the surviving descendents of his closest relatives have.

But whatever his health problem was, diagnosing it would be a huge boon for the treatment of that disease: raising awareness, generating research dollars, giving those who suffer it a hero, and giving the disease a name. Do you know how many people’s lives are saved by such awareness? Both the public learning about the disease to recognize its symptoms in themselves or loved ones, and in family members?

Certainly, when I was a kid, the idea that Lincoln was a Marfan was a huge motivator and inspiration for me.

I mean, it’s only been in the last few years that I haven’t had to give a dissertation on Marfan syndrome every time I enter the emergency room. It’s finally gotten to the point where every ER doctor I encoutner ,and most nurses, are aware of the many risks I face as an adult, post-operative Marfan.

I mean, we don’t get “celebrities”. Most of our celebrities, like Flo Hyman and Jonathan Larson, get diagnosed posthumously.

Conversation of my co-workers when the Rent movie came out:
Airhead Co-Worker: “He died of AIDS, right?”
Smart Co-Worker: “No. He died of Marfan syndrome.”
Airhead Co-Worker: “What’s that?”
Smart co-Worker: “That’s what John has.”
Airhead Co-Worker: "Oh–"changed subject.

Those who do achieve success despite Marfan syndrome, like Rabbi Gehlman of The God Squad, Vincent Schiavelli (who ended up dying of lung cancer, not Marfan), and the hypothetical Lincoln, don’t really give examples of how debilitating and life-threatening it is.

Awareness-raising is so important for so many reasons. There are a myriad of valuable reasons why this should be done. Yet for historians, it’s just a historical puzzle. Doctors don’t see the direct viability in research. It’s only us activists who have a true stake in it.

or as, a president who suspended habeus corpus, ordered soldiers to ignore supena’s from the supreme court, threathed members of congress with arrest for dissent, and cowardly only freed the slaves in the confederacy(a seperate nation), but not any in the union(slavery was still legal in some parts) because he was afraid more states would revolt, possibly including maryland.

Here we go again…

  1. Lincoln was well within his rights to suspend habeas corpus. It is specifically permitted in the Constitution.

  2. Roger Taney lost all moral authority after Dred Scott. He was deliberately trying to sabotage the Union war effort with his rulings, and Lincoln parried him.

  3. Name the specific members of Congress that Lincoln had arrested; almost all of them, particularly Clement L. Vallandigham, were traitors.

  4. Lincoln freed the slaves only where he believed he had the power to do so (as a war measure against the Confederacy). It was his belief that a Constitutional amendment was needed to free the slaves in the loyal states, and he staked his re-election to that amendment. So yes, he did intend to free all the slaves, but he believed a different mechanism was needed to do it if they weren’t actively engaged in treason.

  5. The Confederacy was not a separate nation. They were rebels.

ok, points 1-4 i think we are gonna just have to agree to disagree

point 5. the Confederacy was as legitamate a goverment as the colonies were after the decleration of independance. when a goverment becomes unjust people arent obliged to obey.
-yes slavery was bad, but the war wasnt about that, and the industrial revolution would have ended it anyways. it was about the 10th amendment, somethine that seems more and more likely to start another war…but we are way off topic here so back to the topic at hand as a scientist i’d like to see the test done, if anything it can only do two things
-give us more insight to the genome and genetic diseases

Explain to me how the United States government in 1860 was unjust.

-yes slavery was bad, but the war wasnt about that, and the industrial revolution would have ended it anyways. it was about the 10th amendment, somethine that seems more and more likely to start another war…but we are way off topic here so back to the topic at hand as a scientist i’d like to see the test done, if anything it can only do two things
-give us more insight to the genome and genetic diseases

The war was certainly about slavery. After all, the slave states were willing to blow off the 10th Amendment to get their beloved Fugitive Slave Law passed. Furthermore, what split the Whig Party? Slavery. There were Southerners who supported a protective tariff in the 1820’s and even the 1830’s and 1840’s (John Calhoun was one of them, until he started to fear that a strong government could one day restrict slavery), but the Whig Party’s stance on the Mexican War killed it in the South. What split the Democratic Party? Slavery in Kansas. The Southerners walked out of the Democratic Convention because they couldn’t get a Federal Slave Code inserted into their platform.

What caused Brooks to beat Sumner? Slavery. What caused John Brown’s raid? Slavery. What caused the Christiana Massacre? Slavery. Why did the South want Cuba? Slavery.

As Thomas Hart Benton so eloquently put it, “You could not look upon the table, but there were frogs, you could not sit down at the banquet but there were frogs, you could not go to the bridal couch and lift the sheets but there were frogs!” From 1848 to 1860, practically every major issue was about slavery. Is it honestly possible that the Southern states, after spending twelve years doing nothing but arguing about slavery, would suddenly cease caring and secede over the 10th Amendment, an amendment they themselves had thrown aside over the Fugitive Slave Law and in their quest for a federal slave code? Besides, if it really was over the 10th Amendment, they would have waited until Lincoln took office to secede; the Lower South was in rebellion before Lincoln was inaugurated.

Here’s something, though: Find the violations of the 10th Amendment in the Republican Party platform. If that’s what prompted secession, and the platform is all the secessionists had to go on (because Lincoln kept his mouth shut all winter), find the violations significant enough to prompt secession.

I think we have wandered off topic here.

So we should desecrate the remains of Lincoln to make people more aware of am affliction you have?

thanks for the different perspective
i don’t care about the pillow case so much as i didn’t see the value of the tests, but i guess they do have value. i also don’t know anything about the syndrome and if a famous name helps you, then i hope they make it happen.

it’s blood stains on a pillow case, not his remains…

I see no reason to damage the pillow case to confiomr or deny some scientists theory.

Just to clarify, the Civil War was about the principal of nullification, state rights, and the EXPANSION of slavery into the terrtories. Slavery in the South was NOT the reason for the Civil War. Sorry, I’m studying this in college right now…:slight_smile:
To stay on topic, while interesting, I don’t see the reason to conduct these tests. Whatever Lincoln had is really moot, since he was assassinated.

I suggest you read the Articles of secession of the rebellious States-you will see they seceded over slavery. the north went to war to preserves the union-a union the South wanted to end over the issue of slavery.

A disorder that effects 1 in 5000 people. A disorder that, untreated, has an average life expectancy of the early 20s. And taht’s just what we now call “Marfan syndrome.”

Anton Marfan, regarded as the father of pediatric medicine, identified a number of unrelated health problems that have his name on them (one is related to syphilis; another is related to TB). What we now call “Marfan syndrome” was called “arachnodactyly” by Marfan himself. Technically, the original patient he described only had really long fingers, toes, arms, and legs, and had hypermobility. Technically, there are a wide range of disorders that have those features, including Ehlers Danlo and Lowes-Dietz.

OR conversely, a disorder I don’t have. Again, we know Lincoln had something. It’s a question of what.

Last I checked, Lincoln wasn’t a saint. . Last I checked, Lincoln didn’t even believe in God. So it’s hardly a sacred relic.
It’s blood on a pillow. It’s no different than any other forensic testing.

There is no reason, according to Natural Law, why this would be wrong to do. The only way that it can be seen to be wrong is by a positivst or utilitarian ethic.

The main question, as some have raised in this thread, is “why would this help anyone?”

I have explained the various ways it can help people. If nothing else, it provides a role model to people.

Look at the Susan Boyle phenomenon. Here’s a woman with birth defects (in her case, literally birth defects: problems taht resulted from complications in childbirth), who has been ridiculed her whole life for her strange speech and unusual appearance. She’s lived with her parents into her forties. Her success on the show was, as the judges said, an “eye opener.” For disabled people, she’s an inspiration: someone who has lived the dream that all of us have, as we sit in our homes watching our peers enjoy the successes life has to offer.

Or look at Natasha Richardson: there was a story a few days after her death about a family whose daughter suffered a similar injury. They recognized in their daughter the symptoms they heard about Natasha Richardson having, and they took their daughter to the ER, saving her life.

As for me, who cares? I’m a post-operative Marfan. Marfan syndrome causes (among other things) aneurysms. Uusally, it starts with an aneurysm in the aortic root. My aortic root was replaced in 1996. Once they replace the aortic root, the artificial valve they put in can tear out without warning. Then the rest of the natural aorta can dissect (tear) without an aneurysm (meaning no warning). Then there are the new health problems: the risk of stroke from having an artificial valve, or the risk of th evalve itself clogging. So I’m on Warfarin, which carries its own health risks. In the past year, I’ve found out I have a new aneurysm in my thoracic descending aorta, as well as an aneurysm in my brain.

Since June 9, 1996, I have known with very real certainty that each day could be my last. I am here by God’s providence only. That doesn’t mean I don’t seek medical attention, but I know the doctors can’t do a darn thing if God wants to take me, and I know God will do what they can never do.

But I believe it’s important–within ethical boundaries–to help other people, and there is no objective moral reason, other than sentimentality, why they shouldn’t take a fiber or two out of a 140 year old bloodstained pillow.

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