Did Lincoln have fatal cancer in 1865? Author wants DNA analyzed

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PHILADELPHIA – John Sotos has a theory about why Abraham Lincoln was so tall, why he appeared to have lumps on his lips and even why he had gastrointestinal problems. The 16th president, he contends, had a rare genetic disorder — one that would likely have left him dead of cancer within a year had he not been assassinated. And his bid to prove his theory has posed an ethical and scientific dilemma for a small Philadelphia museum in the year that marks the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth.

Framed behind glass in the Grand Army of the Republic Civil War Museum and Library in northeast Philadelphia is a small piece of bloodstained pillowcase on which the head of the dying president rested after he was shot at Ford's Theater in Washington 144 years ago.

Sotos, a cardiologist and author, is hoping a DNA test of the strip will reveal whether Lincoln was afflicted with multiple endocrine neoplasia, type 2B...

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Nigel Anthony Sellars - 4/20/2009

Fascinating story. If Dr. Sotos is correct, then the question of what might have happened had Lincoln not been assassinated becomes even more pointless and irrelevant. If Lincoln was doomed to succumb to cancer, then Andrew Johnson would still have ascended to the presidency and the struggle over what Reconstruction was to be would still have not been resolved, although perhaps clarified a little bit and perhaps delayed for a few more months.

So much, then, for any counter-factual or alternative versions of the post Civil War era. Sometimes the path of history is neither stopped nor altered, but only sped up or slowed down.