Kenneth (kensmind) wrote in potus_geeks,

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Lincoln's Ghost

Happy Halloween everyone. Today is a good day for a ghost story, potus_geeks style, specifically one about a Presidential ghost. There have been several stories about the ghost of Abraham Lincoln visiting the White House. It has been reported that Lincoln's Ghost, otherwise known as The White House Ghost, is said to have haunted the White House since his death.


According to a number of sources, Lincoln had dreams about being assassinated several nights before his assassination at Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865. According to Marshall Ward Hill Lamon, Lincoln's friend, sometime bodyguard and biographer, three days before his assassination Lincoln discussed with Lamon and others a dream he had. Lamon quotes Lincoln as recounting the dream as follows:

"About ten days ago, I retired very late. I had been up waiting for important dispatches from the front. I could not have been long in bed when I fell into a slumber, for I was weary. I soon began to dream. There seemed to be a death-like stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I went from room to room; no living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds of distress met me as I passed along. I saw light in all the rooms; every object was familiar to me; but where were all the people who were grieving as if their hearts would break? I was puzzled and alarmed. What could be the meaning of all this? Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. 'Who is dead in the White House?' I demanded of one of the soldiers, 'The President,' was his answer; 'he was killed by an assassin.' Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which woke me from my dream. I slept no more that night; and although it was only a dream, I have been strangely annoyed by it ever since."

On the day of the assassination, Lincoln had told his bodyguard, William H. Crook that he had been having dreams about his being assassinated for three straight nights. Crook tried to persuade the president not to attend a performance of the play Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre that night, or at least allow him to go along as an extra bodyguard, but Lincoln said he had promised his wife they would go. As Lincoln left for the theater, he turned to Crook and said "Goodbye, Crook." According to Crook, this was the first time he said that. Previously, Lincoln had always said, "Good night, Crook." Crook later said "I thought of it at that moment and, a few hours later, when the news flashed over Washington that he had been shot, his last words were so burned into my being that they can never be forgotten."

Photographer William H. Mumler of New York claimed to be a "spirit photographer". In 1869 Mumler photographed Mary Todd Lincoln. The result was a famous photograph which Mumler claimed showed Mary Todd Lincoln with the "ghost" of her late husband. According to the book Ghosts Caught on Film by Melvin Willin, Mumler did not know that his sitter was Lincoln, instead believing her to be a 'Mrs Tundall'. Mary Todd Lincoln had assumed the name of 'Mrs. Lindall' and was convinced by Mumler's wife (a medium) to identify her husband on the photo. The photo was later proven to be a fraudulent double exposure.


The ghost of Abraham Lincoln was reported to have appeared during the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. First lady Eleanor Roosevelt said that while she never saw Lincoln's ghost, she felt his presence repeatedly throughout the White House. Mrs. Roosevelt also said that the family dog, Fala, would sometimes bark for no reason at what she felt was Lincoln's ghost.

President Dwight Eisenhower's press secretary, James Hagerty, and Liz Carpenter, press secretary to First Lady Lady Bird Johnson, both claimed they felt Lincoln's presence many times.

There are reports that Lincoln's footsteps have been heard in the hall outside the Lincoln Bedroom. White House staff member Lillian Rogers Parks admitted in her 1961 autobiography My Thirty Years Backstairs at the White House that she had heard them. Margaret Truman, daughter of President Harry S. Truman, said she heard a specter rapping at the door of the Lincoln Bedroom when she stayed there, and believed it was Lincoln. President Truman also claimed that he was woken by raps at the door while spending a night in the Lincoln Bedroom.

Several persons have claimed to have seen the shade of Abraham Lincoln actually lying down on the bed in the Lincoln Bedroom (which was used as a meeting room at the time of his administration). Others claim to have seen Lincoln sit on the edge of the bed and put his boots on. The most famous eyewitness to the latter was Mary Eben, Eleanor Roosevelt's secretary, who said that she saw Lincoln pulling on his boots (after which she ran screaming from the room).

The first person reported to have actually seen Lincoln's spirit was First Lady Grace Coolidge, who said she saw the ghost of Lincoln standing at a window in the Yellow Oval Room staring out at the Potomac. Theodore Roosevelt and Maureen Reagan and her husband all claimed to have seen a spectral Lincoln in the White House. A number of staff members of the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration claimed to have seen Lincoln's spirit, and on one occasion Roosevelt's personal valet ran screaming from the White House claiming he had seen Lincoln's ghost.

In 1942 Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands claimed that she heard footsteps outside her White House bedroom and answered a knock on the door, only to see Lincoln in frock coat and top hat standing in front of her. She is reported to have fainted at the sight.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill claimed that, after taking a long, hot bath while drinking a Scotch and smoking a cigar to relax, he climbed out of the bath and walked into the adjoining bedroom where he saw Lincoln standing by the fireplace in the room, leaning on the mantle. When Churchill told the story, he claimed that he said "Good evening, Mr. President. You seem to have me at a disadvantage" and that Lincoln smiled softly and disappeared. (One can only speculate as to what part the scotch that Churchill had been drinking contributed to the story.)

Lincoln's ghost was reportedly seen outside of the White House as well. In Loundonville, New York, Lincoln's ghost was said to haunt a house that was owned by a woman who was present at Ford's Theatre when Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth. Other Lincoln hauntings included at his grave in Springfield, Illinois, as well as reports about a phantom train on nights in April along the same path his funeral train followed from Washington, D.C. to Springfield.

The last reported sighting of Lincoln's ghost was in the early 1980s, when Tony Savoy, White House operations foreman, came into the White House and claimed that he saw Lincoln sitting in a chair at the top of some stairs.

Abraham Lincoln is not the only Lincoln ghost witnesses claim to have seen in the White House. Willie Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln's 11-year-old son, died in the White House of typhoid on February 20, 1862. Willie Lincoln's ghost was first reportedly seen in the White House by staff members of the Grant administration in the 1870s. President Lyndon B. Johnson's daughter Lynda Bird Johnson Robb claimed that she saw the ghost and talked to him.


So far there have been no reported sightings of either Lincoln ghost during the current administration, but tonight is Halloween, so one never knows.
Tags: abraham lincoln, dwight d. eisenhower, franklin delano roosevelt, halloween, harry s. truman, lyndon johnson, theodore roosevelt

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