Archives intern sells Civil War docs on eBay

Archives intern sells Civil War docs on eBay

Summary: Rare book seller obtained internship at National Archives, stole items and sold them on eBay.


In a shocking violation of the nation's historical artifacts, prosecutors charged an intern with the National Archives with stealing about 165 Civil War documents — including the War Department's announcement of President Lincoln's death — and selling most of them on eBay, according to the Associated Press.

Denning McTague, who runs a Web site that sells rare books, has helped officials recover most the works and plans to plead guilty.

The stolen documents include telegrams concerning troops' weaponry, the Lincoln death announcement sent to soldiers, and a letter from famed Confederate cavalryman James Ewell Brown "Jeb" Stuart, prosecutors said.

The sale of one of the items on eBay aroused suspicion and led to the investigation, National Archives spokeswoman Susan Cooper said. The office of U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan said that all but a handful of the items have been recovered.

McTague's job as an intern included arranging and organizing documents in preparation for the upcoming 150th anniversary of the Civil War. As an intern, he may not have had to go through the security checks mandated for volunteers and visiting researchers, Cooper said.

Topics: E-Commerce, Government US

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  • Where have our morals gone?

    What happened to the importance of our nations history to our future generations? Is it not being taught in school? Or , is it just that no one cares anymore? So much importance is placed on the almighty dollar , that we would sell ourselves out to get it?
    Yet another sad instance of what our country is becoming.
    • History is being taught in school. But not at home.

      The problem is, as soon as they see the salary the teacher gets for his morality and devotion, and hears what people like his parents say about those teachers (as in, those who can, do; those who can't...) then compares that salary to what anyone willing to suspend his ethics for 5 minutes can get...well, money seems to make the world go 'round; and this kid was just doing what the media shows every day on TV; what his political leaders seem to do regularly, and what most of the business community does on a daily basis... Take what you can get while the getting is good. Ask Exxon about their recent record profits, or WorldCom or Enron, or the golden parachute folks at every large firm that has hit bankruptcy lately, or a recent US president, several congressmen and senators who all seem to have a soft spot for their interns (or is that a hard spot?).

      The fact is, our society is in trouble, and you are right, no one, or at least not enough of us, cares enough to stop it.
  • Does anyone really care?

    I would have to say not for the total lack of replies to this post.
    • It is sad that this is less important than what OS we use, isn't it?

      At least you commented on it...
  • I Care!

    I Care!

    And this %$#*ing puke should have his $*%# cut off, too.

    Documents such as these are an integral part of our nation's rich history. Many people may see them as little more than old parchment, but to the few that appreciate them, they are a priceless window into our interesting, colorful, and often turbulent past.

    These documents were placed into the National Archives for important reasons, one of which being for posterity... they belong to Everybody. That such a fool could access and steal them is inexcusable... that he had such a diregard for what this Nation, as a whole, considers to be above any price, and then selling them on eBay, is, well, an offense to, and a shaming of, our country and all of its citizens.

    Maybe the few that read this post might think these documents to be unimportant, but just think... what documents do you consider to be important? Maybe top-secret details regarding the design of thermonuclear weapons that fall into foreign hands? Maybe your credit card numbers? Maybe the one and only hand-written manuscript that your grandmother wrote of your family history?

    The point is, it may not be important to YOU... but it is important to U.S.

    Get it?

    OK, Federal prosecuters... sink your teeth into this guy and set an example... do your best despite there no longer being vigilante justice in this nation of ours.
  • I Care, Also.

    Does anyone realize that this is one of our own people selling us all out? This should be treated as a case of treason. These are some of the very documents that make this country unique to the world. That someone, one of our own and obviously a trusted individual, turned his back on this country trying to make a few bucks. I feel this was a treasonous act.

    I do not think he should ever come out of prison. People who don't think these documents are important should pack up and move out. Ask any military man or woman what the penalty for treason or cowardice is? They will tell you.

  • Sold Archives:

    Much of the blame should go to the buyer. The crooked - - - is almost as builty as the seller. Get 2 for the price of 1?
    • I don't think you can punish the buyers, here.

      I mean, its not like they met in some dark alley. The stuff was stolen? How could the buyer have known? That's a pretty public place to sell stolen stuff, isn't it?