'Lincoln' film spurs interest in his foot doctor
LONDON (AP) - February 28, 2013 (WPVI) -- He may just be a footnote to history, but Dr. Isachar Zacharie is having a posthumous mini-moment, thanks to the Hollywood-sparked surge of interest in the presidency of Abraham Lincoln.
Zacharie was buried in London's famed Highgate Cemetery in 1900, but he is only being added to the cemetery guide Friday, joining such notables as communist philosopher Karl Marx, novelist George Eliot and punk pioneer Malcolm McLaren as a likely draw for visitors to the north London landmark.
Zacharie's claim to fame? He was Lincoln's foot doctor. And a good one at that, if the president's signed endorsement can be taken at face value.
"Dr. Zacharie has operated on my feet with great success, and considerable addition to my comfort," the 16th president of the United States wrote in 1862, when the United States was gripped by civil war.
Zacharie's connection to Lincoln has long been known to historians, but Ian Dungavell, the cemetery's chief executive, said the cemetery's management only learned of it recently.
He said details about Zacharie's grave have been added to the new guide coming out Friday because of the current high interest in Lincoln, subject of a critically acclaimed film directed by Steven Spielberg.
"He's a very interesting character," Dungavell said of the doctor. "He was British, went to the U.S. as a young man, and came back after the Civil War. There was some sort of a dispute about payment."
Historical accounts suggest that Zacharie fell out of favor with American politicians when he presented a bill for having treated thousands of Union soldiers during the Civil War.
Some accounts suggest he was used by Lincoln for an unsuccessful peace mission to Richmond, Virginia - the Confederate capital - in 1863.
"We've got all sorts of famous people here," Dungavell said. "He was eminent among chiropodists."
Zacharie is not the only Briton whose profile has been raised by the success of the "Lincoln" film - English actor Daniel Day-Lewis this week won an Oscar for his portrayal of the president.
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