The Legend of Lincoln's Ghost

The following article is republished from Uncle John's Ahh-Inspiring Bathroom Reader.

Here's a trivia question you can use to win a bet: Who was the first president to claim he saw Lincoln's ghost? Answer: Lincoln himself.


Take America's "royal residence," the White House; examine tales of hauntings that have surrounded it for nearly two centuries; and add Abraham Lincoln, an odd president who believed in the occult and was murdered while in office, and you have the recipe for America's most famous ghost story.

* According to legend, shortly after Lincoln was elected to his first term in 1860, he saw a double image of himself while gazing in a mirror at his Illinois home. One was his normal reflection, the other a pale double. Mrs. Lincoln didn't see the second image, but was convinced that it was a sign. The sharper image, she said, represented Lincoln completing his first term; the other was a sign that he would be reelected, but would die before completing his second term.

* As Lincoln began his first term, the nation was on the verge of the Civil War. In the midst of trying to reunify the divided country, Lincoln faced a terrible personal tragedy -his 11-year-old son, Willie, died from a fever in 1862. A grief-stricken Mrs. Lincoln conducted seances in the hope of contacting the boy. Although the skeptical president never participated in the seances, historians say his wife's belief in the supernatural may have eventually rubbed off on him.

* Lincoln suffered restless nights filled with nightmares and premonitions of his own death. He once told his wife about a dream where he was asleep, then was woken by the sound of someone crying. He went to the East Room and found the source of the sobs: mourners and a casket. He asked a woman, "Who died?" "The assassinated president," she told him. Lincoln walked over to the casket and saw himself inside.

* Several months later, on the morning of April 14, 1865, Lincoln called an emergency meeting of the Cabinet and delivered a cryptic message: "Expect important news soon. I have had a dream," he told them. "I am on a boat, alone in the ocean. I have no oars, no rudder. I am helpless." That evening, while attending a play at Ford's Theater, Lincoln was shot from behind by John Wilkes Booth; he died the next morning at 7:22 AM.


Parapsychologists define ghosts as "people who died with unfinished business" -and Lincoln certainly fits the bill. The Confederacy had surrendered only five days before Lincoln's assassination, but the United States was in disarray. The economy of the South had been decimated by the war; hatred and animosity were rampant. Lincoln's plans for repairing the nation were cut short by his murder. As a result, does Lincoln's ghost still roam the halls of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? Many subsequent residents and visitor are convinced it does.


The Teddy Roosevelt White House (1901-1909)
"I think of Lincoln, shambling, homely, with his strong, sad, deeply furrowed face, all the time. I see him in the different rooms and in the halls." Skeptics maintain that this quote by President roosevelt was taken out of context. But believers in the spirit world say that Roosevelt was speaking literally -that he actually saw Lincoln's ghost.

The Coolidge White House (1923-1929)
Calvin Coolidge's wife, Grace, claimed she saw the tall figure of Lincoln "at the window in the Oval Office, hands clasped behind his back, gazing out over the Potomac River, perhaps still seeing the bloody battlefields beyond."

The FDR White House (1933-1945)
* While sleeping in the White House, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands was awakened one night by knocks at her bedroom door. When she answered it, the former president was standing before her. The queen fainted. When she came to, the ghost was gone.

* For a time, the Lincoln bedroom was Eleanor Roosevelt's study, and the First Lady claimed she could feel the presence of the former president. "Sometimes when I worked at my desk late at night I'd get a feeling that someone was standing behind me. I'd have to turn around and look."

* A few years later in the same room, a seamstress was working on the drapes and kept hearing the sound of someone approaching the bedroom door, but no one ever came. She found a White House butler an dashed him why he kept pacing back and forth. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said. "I haven't been on that floor. That was Abe."

* Winston Churchill, a frequent guest during World War II, had an "eventful" night in the Lincoln Bedroom. He was found the next morning sleeping on the floor of the room across the hall. He told no one what happened that night and vowed never to set foot in the Lincoln bedroom again.

* The Ford White House (1974-1977)
Gerald Ford's daughter Susan was so sure she felt Lincoln's ghost in the White House that she wouldn't set foot in the Lincoln bedroom, either.

The Reagan White House (1981-1989)
* The most prominent modern sighting comes from yet another presidential daughter, Maureen reagan, along with her husband, Dennis Revell. One night while in the Lincoln Bedroom, they both saw "an aura, sometimes red, sometimes orange." According to Reagan, it was the ghost of Lincoln.

* Just as mysterious is the fact that the Reagan's dog Lucky would never enter the Lincoln Bedroom. She would, however, stand in the hallway and bark at something inside.

The Clinton White House (1993-2001)
"A high percentage of people who work here won't go in the Lincoln Bedroom," said President Clinton's social secretary, Capricia Marshall. According to Marshall, many White House maids and butlers swear they've seen Lincoln's ghost.


This article is reprinted with permission from Uncle John's Ahh-Inspiring Bathroom Reader.

Get ready to be thoroughly entertained while occupied on the throne. Uncle John rules the world of information and humor. It's simply Ahh-Inspiring!

Since 1988, the Bathroom Reader Institute had published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts. If you like Neatorama, you'll love the Bathroom Reader Institute's books - go ahead and check 'em out!

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Nice story, but there is at least one factual inaccuracy. "Parapsychologists define ghosts as 'people who died with unfinished business' -and Lincoln certainly fits the bill. The Confederacy had surrendered only five days before Lincoln's assassination, but the United States was in disarray." While Lee had surrendered the Army of Virginia to Grant five days before the assassination, none of the other Confederate armies had surrendered. Confederate armies were fighting in North Carolina (against Sherman), Alabama, and Texas. And Jefferson Davis was fleeing south from the captured Richmond with the remnants of the Confederate government when Lincoln died.
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