Presidential X-Files: Harry Truman and the 1952 Washington DC UFO Incident

The last year of Harry Truman's Presidency was a very difficult one. Despite his miraculous victory in 1948, he knew that he wasn't going to pull off that feat in the next election. By July of 1952, Truman had opted not to run for President again, even though he could have. His approval ratings were almost at their lowest point, and an election campaign was on in which it was almost a foregone conclusion that popular General Dwight Eisenhower would defeat the Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson. On top of all of his other problems, the last thing Truman needed was to have UFOs buzzing the Capitol.

Five years earlier, at a press conference held on July 10, 1947, Truman had scoffed at the idea of "flying saucers." He had this exchange with a reporter:

Q. Mr. President, have you seen any flying saucers ?

THE PRESIDENT. Only in the newspapers. [Laughter]

Q. Any explanations of them from over here?

THE PRESIDENT. Only the explanations I have seen in the newspapers. Did you ever hear of the moon hoax ?

It was during the final days of Truman's watch that the nation's capitol was the sight of a well documented incident involving unidentified flying objects. At 11:40 p.m. on Saturday, July 19, 1952, Edward Nugent, an air traffic controller at Washington National Airport (now known as Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport), spotted seven objects on his radar that he couldn't identify. The objects were located 15 miles south-southwest of the city in a part of the sky where there were no known aircraft in the area. The objects were not following any established flight paths. Nugent's superior, Harry Barnes, a senior air-traffic controller at the airport, watched the objects on Nugent's radarscope. Nugent described what he was seeing thusly: "We knew immediately that a very strange situation existed, their movements were completely radical compared to those of ordinary aircraft." Barnes had two controllers check Nugent's radar and they found that it was working normally.

Barnes then called National Airport's radar-equipped control tower and he learned that; the controllers there also had unidentified blips on their radar screen. One of the controllers said that he had seen "a bright light hovering in the sky" which "took off, zooming away at incredible speed."

The objects moved over the White House and the United States Capitol. At this point, Barnes called Andrews Air Force Base, which is located 10 miles from National Airport. Andrews reported that they had no unusual objects on their radar, but moments later an airman called the base's control tower to report the sighting of a strange object. Airman William Brady, who was in the tower, reported seeing an "object which appeared to be like an orange ball of fire, trailing a tail, unlike anything I had ever seen before." Brady tried to alert the other personnel in the tower, but as he was doing this, he reported that the strange object "took off at an unbelievable speed."

Elsewhere in the District, on one of National Airport's runways, a Capital Airlines pilot named S.C. Pierman was waiting in the cockpit of his DC-4 for permission to take off. He spotted what he first believed to be a meteor. Learning that the control tower's radar had detected unknown objects closing in on his position, Pierman then observed six objects, which he described as "white, tailless, fast-moving lights". He observed them for a period of 14 minutes while he was in radio contact with Harry Barnes. According to Barnes, "each sighting coincided with a pip we could see near his plane. When he reported that the light streaked off at a high speed, it disappeared on our scope."

Meanwhile, at Andrews Air Force Base, the control tower there was tracking what were unknown objects. Some speculated that these were simply stars of meteors, but Staff Sgt. Charles Davenport observed an orange-red light to the south. According to Sgt. Davenport, the light "would appear to stand still, then make an abrupt change in direction and altitude." He said that this happened several times. Both radar centers at National Airport and the radar at Andrews Air Force Base were tracking an object hovering over a radio beacon, and the object vanished in all three radar centers at the same time.

At 3 a.m., two United States Air Force F-94 Starfire jet fighters from New Castle Air Force Base in Delaware arrived over Washington. It was at this time that all of the objects vanished from the radar at National Airport. Strangely, when the jets ran low on fuel and left, the objects returned. Barnes theorized that "the UFOs were monitoring radio traffic and behaving accordingly." The objects were last detected by radar at 5:30 a.m.

These sightings made front-page headlines in newspapers around the nation. One headline from the Cedar Rapids Gazette read "SAUCERS SWARM OVER CAPITAL". At the time, USAF Captain Edward J. Ruppelt was the supervisor of the Air Force's Project Blue Book, tasked with the investigation of UFO sightings. Ruppelt happened to be in Washington at the time, but did not learn about the sightings until Monday, July 21, when he read the headlines in a local newspaper. His efforts to get to the Pentagon to gather information were frustrated by his inability to get a staff car so he could travel around Washington to investigate the sightings. He was told that he could rent a taxicab with his own money by was frustrated by the lack of cooperation from the senior brass. He left Washington and flew back to Blue Book's headquarters at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio.

At 8:15 p.m. on Saturday, July 26, 1952, a pilot and stewardess on a National Airlines flight into Washington observed some lights above their plane. Within minutes, both radar centers at National Airport, and the radar at Andrews AFB, were tracking more unknown objects. USAF master sergeant Charles E. Cummings saw the objects at Andrews, and later said, "these lights did not have the characteristics of shooting stars," adding, "they traveled faster than any shooting star I have ever seen."

By 9:30 p.m. the radar center was detecting unknown objects in every sector. Some of the objects traveled slowly, at other times they reversed direction and moved across the radarscope at speeds estimated as up to 7,000 mph. At 11:30 p.m., two U.S. Air Force F-94 Starfire jet fighters from New Castle Air Force Base in Delaware arrived over Washington. Captain John McHugo, the flight leader, was vectored towards the radar blips but saw nothing, despite repeated attempts. His wingman, Lieutenant William Patterson, did see four white "glows" and chased them. Patterson said, "I tried to make contact with the bogies below 1,000 feet. I was at my maximum speed. I ceased chasing them because I saw no chance of overtaking them." Patterson told ground control during the incident, "I see them now and they're all around me. What should I do?" No one at ground control could give him any helpful advice.

After midnight on July 27, USAF Major Dewey Fournet, Project Blue Book's liaison at the Pentagon, and Lt. John Holcomb, a United States Navy radar specialist, arrived at the radar center at National Airport. Holcomb had learned from the Washington National Weather Station that a slight temperature inversion was present over the city, but Holcomb opined that the inversion was not "nearly strong enough to explain" what was being seen on the radar scopes. According to Fournet, all of those present in the radar room were convinced that the targets were most likely solid metallic objects. Two more F-94s from New Castle Air Force Base were scrambled during the night. One pilot saw nothing unusual; the other pilot reported seeing a white light which "vanished" when he moved towards it. A number of non-military planes flying into Washington also reported seeing strange glowing objects in places where the radar was getting blips. These sightings and unknown radar returns ended at sunrise.

The sightings of July 26–27 once again made front-page headlines. President Harry Truman to have his air force aide call Ruppelt and ask for an explanation of the sightings and unknown radar returns. Truman listened to the conversation between the two men on a separate phone, but did not ask questions himself. Ruppelt told the president's assistant that the sightings might have been caused by a temperature inversion, in which a layer of warm, moist air covers a layer of cool, dry air closer to the ground. This condition can cause radar signals to bend and give false returns. But Ruppelt said that he had not yet interviewed any of the witnesses or conducted a formal investigation.

The number of sightings over the United States in July of 1952 was said to have alarmed Truman administration. The CIA would reacted to the 1952 sightings by forming a special study group within the Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI) and Office of Current Intelligence (OCI) to review the situation.

The military tried to explain away what has happened. Air Force Major Generals John Samford, USAF Director of Intelligence, and Roger Ramey, USAF Director of Operations, held a press conference at the Pentagon on July 29, 1952, in which Samford told those attending that the visual sightings over Washington could be explained as misidentified aerial phenomena such as stars or meteors. He added that unknown radar targets could be explained by temperature inversion, which was present in the air over Washington on both nights the radar returns were reported. He said that the unknown radar contacts were not caused by solid material objects, and therefore posed no threat to national security. This was said to be the largest Pentagon press conference since World War II.

At the request of the Air Force, the CAA's Technical Development and Evaluation Center did an analysis of the radar sightings. Their conclusion was that "a temperature inversion had been indicated in almost every instance when the unidentified radar targets or visual objects had been reported." Project Blue Book concluded that the unknown Washington radar blips as false images caused by temperature inversion, and the visual sightings as misidentified meteors, stars, and city lights. Privately however, Edward Ruppelt disbelieved this explanation. He later wrote that radar and control tower personnel he spoke to, as well as some Air Force officers, disagreed with the Air Force's explanation. Howard Cocklin told a Washington Post reporter in 2002 that he was still convinced that he saw an object over Washington. He said, "I saw it on the screen and out the window. It was a whitish-blue object. Not a light, a solid form, a saucer-shaped object."

The extremely high numbers of UFO reports in 1952 disturbed both the Air Force and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Both groups were concerned that an enemy nation could deliberately flood the U.S. with false UFO reports, causing mass panic, creating optimal conditions for a surprise attach. On September 24, 1952, the CIA's Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI) sent a memorandum to Walter Bedell Smith, the CIA's Director, staing that the situation had national security implications because of its potential to create "mass hysteria and panic." In January 1953, the "Robertson Panel" was created in response. Dr. Howard P. Robertson, a physicist, chaired the panel, which consisted of other prominent scientists. The group spent four days examining the "best" UFO cases collected by Project Blue Book. The panel dismissed nearly all of the UFO cases it examined and concluded that the Air Force and Project Blue Book needed to spend less time analyzing and studying UFO reports and more time publicly debunking them. Following the panel's recommendation, Project Blue Book decided that it would no longer publicize any UFO case that it had not labeled as "solved".

Presidential X Files: The Lincolns and The Seance in the White House

The Civil War was the bloodiest conflict in the history of the United States. It resulted in approximately 750,000 American fatalities, nearly equal to the total number of American deaths in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean War combined. Because of the ubiquity of death during that time, many bereaved Americans had little time to properly address their grief or mourn their losses at funerals. Many of the soldiers who were killed were left on the battlefield, an ugly remnant of a tragic war.

It was during this time that spiritualism grew in popularity. This was rooted in the belief that the dead could communicate with the living. It was not a new idea, but it became more popular in the mid to late nineteenth century. Spiritualism had millions of adherents as the scope of death during the Civil War left thousands of families without the proper outlets to grieve. As the author of one study on the subject wrote, “Spiritualist activity increased rapidly in America at a time when bereaved citizens were seeking new assurance of continuity and justice after death and when traditional religion was becoming less able to offer this assurance.” One of the means spiritualists employed was to hold séances as an attempt to reach out to lost loved ones. These required the skills of a trained medium, a professional who purported to have the mystic ability to communicate with the deceased.


One of the most prominent believers in spiritualism was First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln, the wife of President Abraham Lincoln. She practiced spiritualism in the White House. The former Mary Todd was born into a wealthy Protestant family from Kentucky in 1818. She suffered the loss of her mother at a young age, and would outlive three of her four children. Her husband would be killed before her very eyes.

Mary Lincoln first began to turn to spiritualism as a means of dealing with her grief after the death of her second youngest son, William or "Willie". He died in February 1862, at the age of eleven, from typhoid fever. The child's loss was a tremendous blow to both of his parents. According to a newspaper article published the day after Willie’s death, “His sickness, an intermittent fever assuming a typhoid character, has caused anxiety and alarm to his family and friends for a week past. The President has been by his side much of the time, scarcely taking rest for ten days past.”

First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln became inconsolable after Willie's death. Her grief over Willie's death was so devastating that she took to her bed for three weeks, so desolated that she could not attend his funeral or look after her other young son Tad. Mary was so distraught for many months that Lincoln had to employ a nurse to look after her.Shortly after his death, she was introduced to the Lauries, a locally prominent group of mediums located in Georgetown. Mrs. Lincoln began to attend the séances held by the group, something that was said to have provided her with a sense of comfort. She began hosting her own séances in the Red Room of the White House. She hosted at least eight séances in the White House and her husband attended some of these. The séances proved to be such an effective means of dealing with her grief for Mrs. Lincoln that she once said to her half-sister, “Willie Lives. He comes to me every night and stands at the foot of the bed with the same sweet adorable smile that he always has had. He does not always come alone. Little Eddie is sometimes with him.” Eddie Lincoln had died in 1850 at the age of four from tuberculosis.

Mary Lincoln suffered from severe headaches, likely migraines, throughout her adult life, and she also suffered from severe depression. Her headaches seemed to become more frequent after she suffered a head injury in a carriage accident while First Lady. She also had a history of mood swings, fierce temper, and public outbursts throughout Lincoln's presidency. This, as well as her excessive spending, has led some historians and psychologists to speculate that she may have suffered from bipolar disorder.

Mary Todd hired medium Nettie Colburn Maynard to sit and talk with the President in December of 1862. Maynard spent over an hour with the Lincoln, and it is claimed that he asked the spirits whether or not he should sign and enact the Emancipation Proclamation.

In April of 1863, President Lincoln himself hosted a séance in the red room of the White House. Included in the séance were Mary Todd, two cabinet members, a medium named Charles E. Shockle, and Boston Gazette reporter named Prior Melton. Throughout the session, according to Melton, Lincoln called upon the spirits to help guide him in political matters. Afterward, Melton reported the proceedings to the people of Boston and the world. Melton's reports have been disputed however, as some historians assert that no medium by the name of Charles E. Shockle appeared in any of the leading Spiritualism publications of the day. But White House historians acknowledge that the séance occurred. Some theorize that perhaps the séance was a publicity stunt to show the president in a more “everyday man” light.

Death would continue to visit Mary Lincoln, with the assassination of her husband in April of 1865 and the death of her son Thomas (Tad) in July 1871. She suffered from overpowering grief and depression. Her surviving son, Robert Lincoln, then a rising young Chicago lawyer, was alarmed at his mother's increasingly erratic behavior. In March 1875, during a visit to Jacksonville, Florida, Mary became unshakably convinced that Robert was deathly ill; hurrying to Chicago, she found him healthy. During her visit with him, she told him that someone had tried to poison her on the train and that someone she referred to as a "wandering Jew" had taken her pocketbook but had subsequently returned it. She spent large amounts of money there on items she never used, and would walk around the city with $56,000 in government bonds sewn into her petticoats.

In 1872, she went to spiritualist photographer, William H. Mumler, who produced a photograph of her which appears to faintly show Lincoln's ghost behind her. Paranormal researcher Melvyn Willin, in his book Ghosts Caught on Film, claims that the photo was taken by Mumler around 1869 and that Mumler did not know that the woman he was photographing was Mrs. Lincoln, instead believing her to be a 'Mrs Tundall'. Willin claimed that Mumler did not discover who she was until after the photo was developed. The College of Psychic Studies claimed that the photo was taken in the early 1870s, and that Mart Lincoln had assumed the name of 'Mrs. Lindall'. The image has since been dismissed as a hoax and a double exposure, at the time it was widely circulated.

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Robert Lincoln became concerned about his mother's erratic behavior and he commenced proceedings to have her institutionalized. On May 20, 1875, following a trial, a jury committed her to a private asylum in Batavia, Illinois. After the court proceedings, she was so despondent that she attempted suicide. She went to several pharmacies and ordered enough laudanum to kill herself, but an alert pharmacist gave her a placebo instead.

After being committed to Bellevue Place for three months, she was able to smuggle letters to her lawyer, James B. Bradwell, and his wife Myra Bradwell, who was her friend as well as being a feminist lawyer. She also wrote to the editor of the Chicago Times. This led to public embarrassment for Robert who controlled his mother's finances. The director of Bellevue, fearing bad publicity for his institution, declared her well enough to go to Springfield to live with her sister Elizabeth. Mary Lincoln was released into Elizabeth's custody and in 1876 she was declared competent to manage her own affairs. The whole incident resulted in Mary being estranged from her son Robert, and they did not see each other again until shortly before her death.

Mrs. Lincoln spent the next four years traveling throughout Europe and took up residence in Pau, France. Her final years were marked by declining health and reduced vision as the result of severe cataracts. In 1879, she suffered spinal cord injuries in a fall from a stepladder. She traveled to New York in 1881 and lobbied for an increased pension after the assassination of President Garfield raised the issue of provisions for his family. Congress eventually granted the increase. On July 15, 1882, exactly eleven years after her youngest son died, she collapsed at her sister's home, lapsed into a coma, and died the next morning from a stroke at age 63.

Presidential X-Files: Donald Trump, Space Force and the Pentagon UFO Videos

The Presidency of Donald Trump included one giant leap for those who believe that alien invaders are out there. He created a new branch of the military which was named the Space Force. At a June 2018 meeting of the National Space Council, President Trump directed the Department of Defense to begin the necessary processes to establish the U.S. Space Force as a branch of the Armed Forces. On February 19, 2019, Space Policy Directive No. 4 was signed, which initially called for the inclusion of the U.S. Space Force within the Department of the Air Force. Later the service became an independent one and the Department of the Space Force was created. Legislative provisions for the Space Force were included in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law on December 20, 2019. The Space Force was established as the sixth armed service branch, with Air Force General John "Jay" Raymond, the commander of Air Force Space Command and U.S. Space Command, becoming the first chief of space operations. On January 14, 2020, Raymond was officially sworn in as chief of space operations by Vice President Mike Pence.

During President Trump's time in office, the subject of aliens frequently came up in the news cycle. Ufologists hoped that the President would spill the beans on what the government knows about the UFOs, either through transparency or inadvertence, but that never really happened. In December 2017, the New York Times reported the existence of a $22 million Pentagon program that investigated unidentified aerial phenomena from 2007 until 2012. When White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about this, she said that she could neither confirm nor deny if this was of interest to the President. She told the media, “Somehow that question hasn’t come up in our back-and-forth over the last couple days. But I will check into that and be happy to circle back.” Apparently, this was never followed up on.

In 2019, it was reported that many senators were anxious to be briefed on extraterrestrial developments after the Times reported in June of that year that Navy pilots were seeing unidentified aircraft off the eastern seaboard on an almost-daily basis in 2014 and 2015. The President is credited in creating a more open-minded approach to these reports, which had previously been discouraged. He said in an interview that month, “I want them to think whatever they think. I did have one very brief meeting on it. But people are saying they’re seeing UFOs. Do I believe it? Not particularly.” As for one of the videos, the President watched the video and also admitted to being briefed on the subject. But he did not sound like a true believer in the existence of aliens among us, acknowledging that either the evidence is sparse. However he told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, “we’re watching” for aliens, “and you’ll be the first to know.”

Last year, in April of 2020, the Pentagon officially released three infrared videos featuring unidentified flying objects traveling at high speeds and making near-impossible turns. In one of the videos, the object is described as follows by now retired US Navy Pilot David Fravor: “As I got close to it, it rapidly accelerated to the south, and disappeared in less than two seconds. This was extremely abrupt, like a ping pong ball, bouncing off a wall. It would hit and go the other way.” Here are the videos that the US Navy released:

President Trump's comment was one of mixed skepticism and amazement. He said, “I just wonder if it’s real. That’s a hell of a video.”

Two months later, during an interview of the President and his eldest son on Father's Day, Donald Trump Jr. asked his father if he would ever tell the public about an alleged incident at Roswell in 1947. President Trump replied, “I won’t talk to you about what I know about it, but it’s very interesting.”

President Trump addressed the subject of UFOs during the most recent presidential campaign, just days after contracting the coronavirus. He said in an interview with Fox News on October 11, 2020 that he would “take a good, strong look” at a government program on UFOs. He said that he had heard about the Pentagon’s August announcement of a task force to investigate UFOs “two days ago”.

It was a former Israeli Defense Ministry official who has suggested to the media that President Trump knows more about the subject of visitors from other worlds than he is letting on. In fact, according to Haim Eshed, the former head of the Israeli Defense Ministry’s space directorate, the President is well aware of the existence of extra-terrestrials. In an interview to the nation’s Yediot Aharonot newspaper, Eshed claimed that aliens “have asked not to publish that they are here because humanity is not ready yet.” Described as a respected professor and former general, Eshed stated that President Trump knew of the aliens existence and was “on the verge of revealing” the blockbuster details, but was asked not to, so that “mass hysteria would not break out.” Eshed also claimed there “is an agreement between the U.S. government and the aliens. They signed a contract with us to do experiments here.”

Whether or not any of Eshed's claims are true, there has been a legitimate concern that now that he is out of office, President Trump will disclose classified information, possibly including what is known about ETs. According to national security officials who were interviewed by the Washington Post, they are worried that President Trump will disclose something he shouldn't, for example, as when he disclosed to Post reported Bob Woodward the existence of US nuclear weapons in Turkey. A number of retired military and political figures disclosed information on government research around UFOs, including former CIA directors John Brennan and Roscoe Hillenkoetter, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Canadian Defense Minister Paul Hellyer. Ufologists are hoping that President Trump will some day be added to this list.
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Presidential X-Files: Lincoln's Dream and Lincoln's Ghost

Every Halloween in this community, a ghost story is posted, more 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 sighting of Lincoln's ghost was in the early 1980s, when Tony Savoy, White House operations foreman, came into the White House and 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.

Presidential X-Files: Jimmy Carter Sees a UFO

Jimmy Carter has the distinction of being the only President to have reported seeing an unidentified flying object. His sighting is said to have taken place one evening in 1969 (two years before he became Governor of Georgia). Carter was preparing to give a speech at a Lions Club meeting. At about 7:15 p.m EST, one of the guests called his attention to a strange object that was visible about 30 degrees above the horizon to the west of where he was standing. Carter described the object as being bright white and as being about as bright as the moon. He said that the object appeared to move closer to where Carter was, but to have stopped beyond a stand of pine trees some distance from him. The object is then said to have changed color, first to blue, then to red, then back to white, before appearing to recede into the distance.This event was witnessed by about ten or twelve other people, and was in view for ten to twelve minutes before it passed out of sight.

In an interview about the incident that he gave in 1973, Carter said:

"There were about twenty of us standing outside of a little restaurant, I believe, a high school lunch room, and a kind of green light appeared in the western sky. This was right after sundown. It got brighter and brighter. And then it eventually disappeared. It didn't have any solid substance to it, it was just a very peculiar-looking light. None of us could understand what it was."

In another interview given in 2005, Carter said:

"All of a sudden, one of the men looked up and said, 'Look, over in the west!' And there was a bright light in the sky. We all saw it. And then the light, it got closer and closer to us. And then it stopped, I don’t know how far away, but it stopped beyond the pine trees. And all of a sudden it changed color to blue, and then it changed to red, then back to white. And we were trying to figure out what in the world it could be, and then it receded into the distance."

There is some controversy about the date of the sighting. According to the report that Carter filed with the International UFO Bureau four years after the incident, this took place in October 1969. However investigators say that according to Lions Club records, this occurred nine months earlier. According to a meeting report that he filed with the Lions Club, Carter gave his Leary speech on January 6, 1969, not in October. Other evidence suggests that the January 1969 date is more plausible. Carter visited the Leary Lions Club in his capacity as district governor of the Lions Club and his term ended in June 1969. The Leary Lions Club disbanded several months before October 1969.

According to an investigation carried out in 1976, (an election year in which Carter was elected President), most of those present at the meeting either did not recall the event. According to Fred Hart, the only guest contacted who remembered seeing the object: "It seems like there was a little—like a blue light or something or other in the sky that night—like some kind of weather balloon they send out or something ... it had been pretty far back in my mind."

Some have hypothesized that the object that Carter witnessed really the planet Venus, but Carter does not believe the object was Venus, explaining that he was an amateur astronomer and knew what Venus looked like. Carter also said that he did not believe that any extraterrestrials have visited Earth. He also stated he knows of no government cover-up of extraterrestrial visits and that the rumors that the CIA refused to give him information about UFOs are not true.

During his 1976 election campaign, he is said to have told reporters that, as a result of it, he would institute a policy of openness about UFO information if he were elected to office. He said:

"One thing's for sure, I'll never make fun of people who say they've seen unidentified objects in the sky. If I become President, I'll make every piece of information this country has about UFO sightings available to the public and the scientists."

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But despite this pledge, once elected, Carter distanced himself from disclosure, citing "defense implications" as being behind his decision." Political promises and political reality can often be worlds apart.
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Presidential X-Files: Ronald Reagan and the Alien Attack

Was it his background as an actor that made President Ronald Reagan turn his mind to the potential of an attack from outer space? Or did he know something that the rest of the world didn't? Probably the former. But on a number of occasions, President Reagan referenced the possibility of an alien invasion, usually as a pretext for illustrating the need for cooperation among nations rather than competition at a time when the Cold War was reaching its climax.

In 1985, Reagan and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev met for their famous Geneva Summit, called to discuss diplomatic relations between the two great world powers and the arms race that was escalating between the two nations. At one point during the meeting the two world leaders took a break from negotiations and went for a walk together. Only their private interpreters were present. For many years, the details of what they talked about were kept secret from the public and the media. It wasn't until a 2009 interview that CBS newsman Charlie Rose had with Gorbachev and Reagan’s Secretary of State George Shultz, that Gorbachev revealed how Reagan had turned the conversation to the subject of what would happen if the world was ever invaded by aliens.

The meeting was held at a chateau known as the Maison de Saussure. Gorbachev said of the meeting, "We viewed the Geneva meeting realistically, without grand expectations, yet we hoped to lay the foundations for a serious dialogue in the future." Borrowing on the example of President Dwight Eisenhower, Reagan believed that a personal relationship among leaders was the necessary first step to breaking down the barriers of tension that existed between the two countries. His goal was to convince Gorbachev that America desired peace and had no desire for world domination. Reagan opened the summit by telling Gorbachev "The United States and the Soviet Union are the two greatest countries on Earth, the superpowers. They are the only ones who can start World War Three, but also the only two countries that could bring peace to the world". He then discussed the personal similarities between the two leaders, with both being born in similar "rural hamlets in the middle of their respective countries" and the great responsibilities they held. Their first meeting exceeded their time limit by over a half an hour. Gorbachev argued that the United States did not trust them and that its ruling class was trying to keep the people uneasy. Ronald Reagan responded by saying that the Soviets had been acting aggressively and suggested the Soviets were overly paranoid about the United States. They then broke for lunch.

The two men talked outside for about two hours and one of the subjects they discussed was the Strategic Defense Initiative, which became colloquially known as "Star Wars." The next session started with arguments about the arms race, then went into SDI, following which the two leaders agreed to a joint statement.

In his interview with Rose, Gorbachev mentioned how Reagan brought up the subject of a possible alien invasion. After Shultz mentioned how the two leaders ducked out of a meeting to take a walk to a nearby cabin, Gorbachev related some of the conversation the two men had in the cabin. He told Rose: "From the fireside house, President Reagan suddenly said to me, 'What would you do if the United States were suddenly attacked by someone from outer space? Would you help us?' I said, 'No doubt about it.' He said, 'We too.'So that's interesting."

This would not be Reagan's last allusion to a possible alien invasion. On Sept. 21, 1987, Reagan gave an address to the United Nations General Assembly. In a frequently quoted section of his speech, Reagan commented about the nations and cultures of the world uniting in common efforts to live in peace and avoid wars and bloodshed. He told the assembly: “Cannot swords be turned to plowshares? Can we and all nations not live in peace? In our obsession with antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much unites all the members of humanity." It was then that he brought up the subject of a possible attack from outer space. He said:

“Perhaps we need some outside, universal threat to make us recognize this common bond. I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world. And yet, I ask you, is not an alien force already among us? What could be more alien to the universal aspirations of our peoples than war and the threat of war?”

Reagan called on his audience to take the long view instead of “our obsession with antagonisms of the moment.” He imagined that the many sources of discord and conflict among nations “would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world.” In keeping with his optimistic view of humanity, he imagined that the human race would pull together in greater unity in the face of a larger danger and tried to make the case that a greater awareness about what humanity has in common would mankind overcome the past pattern of wars and destruction that has permeated the history of the human race.

But Reagan's reference to aliens may have been more than simply the product of an imaginative actor's mind. One night in 1974, Reagan himself may have seen a UFO while Governor of California. He was one of four persons on board a Cessna Citation aircraft, along with his pilot Bill Paynter, and two security guards. As the airplane approached Bakersfield, California, the passengers called Paynter's attention to a strange object to their rear. Paynter described it as follows:

"It appeared to be several hundred yards away. It was a fairly steady light until it began to accelerate. Then it appeared to elongate. Then the light took off. It went up at a 45-degree angle-at a high rate of speed. Everyone on the plane was surprised. The UFO went from a normal cruise speed to a fantastic speed instantly. If you give an airplane power, it will accelerate-but not like a hot rod, and that's what this was like."

The following week Reagan described the sighting to Norman C. Miller, then Washington bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal. Reagan told Miller, "We followed it for several minutes. It was a bright white light. We followed it to Bakersfield, and all of a sudden to our utter amazement it went straight up into the heavens." Miller expressed some doubt, and according to Miller, "a look of horror came over him [Reagan]. It suddenly dawned on him that he was talking to a reporter." Immediately afterward, in Miller's words, Reagan "clammed up."

Presidential X-Files: Richard Nixon, Jackie Gleason and the Aliens

Actor Jackie Gleason was perhaps best known for his role as bus driver Ralph Kramden, whose famous catch-phrase was "To the moon Alice!" It was a different time, when remarks about spousal violence were followed by a laugh track. Gleason had much more of an interest in the heavens besides his punch line. The actor was said to be was greatly interested in the possibility of extra-terrestrials, as well as the paranormal, He read many books on UFOs and other subjects and even commissioned a house in Peekskill, New York that was built to resemble a flying saucer, During the 1950s, he was a recurring guest on a paranormal-themed overnight radio show hosted by John Nebel, and after his death, his large book collection was donated to the library of the University of Miami.

Gleason was also a friend and frequent golfing buddy of President Richard Nixon. According to writer Larry Holcombe, it was Gleason's known interest in UFOs that allegedly led President Richard Nixon to share some information with Gleason, including some UFO data and possibly much more.

Gleason met his second wife, Beverly McKittrick, at a country club in 1968, where she worked as a secretary. The two were married in a registry ceremony in Ashford, England on July 4, 1970. The marriage lasted only four years and in September 1974, Gleason filed for divorce from McKittrick. She contested the divorce, asking for a reconciliation, but the divorce was granted on November 19, 1975.

In 1983, McKittrick gave an interview to the notoriously unreliable National Inquirer, in which she claimed that on February 19, 1973, Nixon took Gleason to an air force base, after the two had played golf together, to show Gleason what he was told were the remains of extra terrestrials. McKittrick was not present for the event, but claimed that Gleason had recounted the details of the event to her. According to McKittick, Gleason and Nixon had played a round of golf the day after which the two spent some time chatting about Gleason's interest in UFO's. The two men had developed a friendship. Gleason had been a staunch supporter of the Nixon campaign.

McKittrick says that sometime around midnight, Nixon suddenly showed up at midnight at Gleason's front door in Key Biscayne. She claims that he appeared alone, without his Secret Service, a detail that makes the story considerably less credible. But as the story goes, Nixon and Gleason drove through the night to Homestead Air Force Base, 35 miles southwest of Miami. After entering the base, Nixon drove to a heavily-guarded building at the far end of the compound where the two men were allowed into the facility. According to McKittrick, Gleason told her:

"There were a number of labs we passed through first before we entered a section where Nixon pointed out what he said was the wreckage from a flying saucer, enclosed in several large cases. Next, we went into an inner chamber and there were six or eight of what looked like glass-topped Coke freezers. Inside them were the mangled remains of what I took to be children."

McKittrick described the incident to the Inquirer as follows:

I’ll never forget the night in 1973 my famous husband came home, slumped white-faced in an armchair and spilled out the incredible story to me. He was late. It was around 11:30 p.m. and I’d been worried. As soon as I heard his key turn in the lock of our golf course home in Inverary, Florida. I jumped to my feet and asked, “Where have you been?”

His reply stunned me: “I’ve been at Homestead Air Force Base — and I’ve seen the bodies of some aliens from outer space. It’s top secret. Only a few people know. But the President arranged for me to be escorted in there and see them.”

Gleason went to to tell her: "And there were the aliens, lying on four separate tables. They were tiny — only about two feet tall — with small bald heads and disproportionately large years. They must have been dead for some time because they’d been embalmed.”

According to Gleason (according to McKittrick), Nixon told Gleason that these were actually the remains of deceased aliens. She said that seeing this shook Gleason to the core, and he had difficulty sleeping for several weeks. When he returned home, he told his wife about what he had seen and swore her to secrecy. The couple were already in the process of separating and Beverly was also in the process of writing a book about her relationship with the mercurial and hard-drinking funnyman.

When the Enquirer story came out, Gleason kept silent about the allegation until 1986. At that time, he invited Larry Warren, a ufologist and the author and eye-witness to the Rendlesham Forest UFO Incident. The two men met at Gleason's New York home. According to Warren, after a few drinks, Gleason repeated the story to him.

Gleason died a year later in 1987. Supposedly, the only persons he told about the incident were McKittrick and Warren. But there is good reason to believe that the story is completely made up. According to Nixon's daily diary (available on the Nixon Library website), Nixon was in Key Biscayne on February 19, 1973, but the main item on his agenda was a meeting with the AFL-CIO. He did attend Gleason's annual golf tournament at the Inverrary Golf and Country Club, spending only 40 minutes there.

The Enquirer article was said to be an excerpt of Beverly's "bombshell book", a book that was never written. Writer Mike Rothschild sums up the incident best in his Skeptoid blog when he writes:

From what I can tell, there are four possibilities for the origin of this strange story:

1. Jackie Gleason made it up in 1973 to explain where he was one night
2. Beverly Gleason made it up in 1983 to tease her tell-all book
3. The National Enquirer made it up in 1983 and published it under Beverly's name to sell newspapers
4. Richard Nixon took Jackie Gleason to see dead alien bodies at a Florida Air Force Base

I have no idea which one of those is true. But I'm pretty sure I know which one isn't.

Remembering William Henry Harrison

On April 4, 1841 (180 years ago today) William Henry Harrison became the first president to die in office. His death came only a month after his inauguration, raising a number of questions about succession upon the death of a president, and leading to the setting of precedent thereafter.


Harrison, the ninth President of the United States, had been a military officer, territorial and governor before being elected as the Whig Party's first successful presidential candidate in the election of 1840. He was also the grandfather of Benjamin Harrison, who became the 23rd President of the United States. He was 68 years, 23 days old when inaugurated, the oldest president to take office up to that time, a record that would last until the inauguration of Ronald Reagan in 1981, and later be surpassed by the 45th and 46th Presidents. Harrison died on his 32nd day in office of complications from pneumonia. His tenure is the shortest in United States presidential history. His death sparked a brief constitutional crisis, but its resolution settled many questions about presidential succession left unanswered by the Constitution until the passage of the 25th Amendment.

William Henry Harrison was born on February 9, 1773. He was the youngest of seven children born to Benjamin Harrison V and the former Elizabeth Bassett. Harrison was born on his family's Berkeley Plantation in Charles City County, Virginia, coincidentally the same county where his future running mate John Tyler was born. Harrison was the last president born as a British subject before American Independence. His father was a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1777 and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, as well as governor of Virginia from 1781 to 1784, during and after the American Revolutionary War. William's older brother, Carter Bassett Harrison, was elected to the United States House of Representatives from Virginia.

Before election as president, Harrison had served as the first territorial congressional delegate from the Northwest Territory, governor of the Indiana Territory and later as a U.S. representative and senator from Ohio. He gained national fame for leading U.S. forces against Native Americans led by Tecumseh at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, from which he acquired the nickname "Old Tippecanoe". He served as a general in the War of 1812, and commanded US forces in the Battle of the Thames in 1813, which brought an end to hostilities in his region.

After the war, Harrison moved to Ohio, where he was elected to the United States House of Representatives. In 1824 the state legislature elected him to the US Senate. He served as Minister Plenipotentiary (ambassador) to Colombia in May 1828, a job for which he was hired by John Quincy Adams and fired by Andrew Jackson. After that he returned to his farm in Ohio, and remained politically inactive until 1833 when he was nominated for the presidency as one of three Whig candidates running against Marin Van Buren. Harrison finished second in the election and retired again to his farm, only to be selected at the Whig candidate in 1840. This time he was elected president, an office he held for a month.

On March 26, Harrison became ill with a cold. There is a popular misconception that his illness came about because at his inauguration he gave a long inaugural address in cold weather, without an overcoat. But Harrison's illness did not arise until more than three weeks later. His cold turned into to pneumonia and pleurisy and he had difficulty in getting any rest in the White House, because of the steady crowd of office seekers. Harrison's doctors tried applying so-called "cures" such as opium, castor oil, leeches, and Virginia snakeweed. The treatments only made Harrison worse, and he became delirious. He died nine days after becoming ill, at 12:30 a.m. on April 4, 1841, of pneumonia, jaundice, and septicemia. Many believe that his last words, which were spoken to his doctor, were really meant for his successor John Tyler. Harrison is reported to have said: "Sir, I wish you to understand the true principles of the government. I wish them carried out. I ask nothing more." He then checked out.


Harrison is buried in West Bend, Ohio, about 30 miles west of Cincinnati. I visited Harrison's Tomb when I was in the area in August of 2013. His resting place overlooks a scenic part of the Ohio River, and there is a museum style display in the park adjacent to the monument housing the tomb. It is a nice remembrance of the man in a blissful setting.

Presidential X-Files: Thomas Jefferson and the UFO Sightings

While still serving as Vice-President of the United States in 1801, Thomas Jefferson received a letter from William Dunbar, a resident of Natchez, Louisiana. The letter was sent to Jefferson in his capacity as President of the American Philosophical Society, an organization founded by Benjamin Franklin. The Philosophical Society, as it was originally named, was founded in 1743 by Franklin, James Alexander, Francis Hopkinson, John Bartram, Philip Syng, Jr. and others. Early members included George Washington, John Adams, Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, James McHenry, Thomas Paine, Nicholas Biddle, Benjamin Rush, and James Madison.

The letter was published in an issue of the society's newsletter entitled Transactions of the American Philosophical Society on page 25 of Volume 6. Dunbar was a member of the society and was also a diligent investigator of natural phenomena in the lower Louisiana region, which at the time was still Spanish territory. Dunbar studied rainfall, winds, rainbows, fossils, the Mississippi delta and even sign language among the native peoples in the area.


At the time this note was read, scientists were debating the existence of meteorites. It was not until 1803 when Jean-Baptiste Biot reported the fall of a meteor near the Norman town of L'Aigle that the general scientific community finally began to accept the existence of such objects.

But it is believed that what Dunbar describes, if accurate, what not a meteorite. The object's size if anywhere near accurate, could not have been a meteorite because an object of this size, entering earth's atmosphere at a speed typical of objects falling to earth from space, would have left a much larger trace of itself. For example, scientists estimate the size of the iron meteor that created Arizona's Meteor Crater, at roughly 50 meters.

Written on June 30, 1800, and received by Jefferson on January 16, 1801, Dunbar's letter reads as follows:

A phenomenon was seen to pass Baton Rouge on the night of the 5th April 1800, of which the following is the best description I have been able to obtain.

It was first seen in the South West, and moved so rapidly, passing over the heads of the spectators, as to disappear in the North East in about a quarter of a minute.

It appeared to be of the size of a large house, 70 or 80 feet long and of a form nearly resembling Fig. 5 in Plate IV.b

It appeared to be about 200 yards above the surface of the earth, wholly luminous, but not emitting sparks; of a colour resembling the sun near the horizon in a cold frosty evening, which may be called a crimson red. When passing right over the heads of the spectators, the light on the surface of the earth, was little short of the effect of sun-beams, though at the same time, looking another way, the stars were visible, which appears to be a confirmation of the opinion formed of its moderate elevation. In passing, a considerable degree of heat was felt but no electric sensation. Immediately after it disappeared in the North East, a violent rushing noise was heard, as if the phenomenon was bearing down the forest before it, and in a few seconds a tremendous crash was heard similar to that of the largest piece of ordnance, causing a very sensible earthquake.

I have been informed, that search has been made in the place where the burning body fell, and that a considerable portion of the surface of the earth was found broken up, and every vegetable body burned or greatly scorched. I have not yet received answers to a number of queries I have sent on, which may perhaps bring to light more particulars.

Unfortunately, the diagram referred to as Figure 5, a one page document, is missing the plate page containing the drawing. Dunbar had been a friend of Jefferson's. Dunbar died in 1810. Six years earlier in 1804 President Jefferson asked Dunbar and George Hunter to lead an expedition to trace the Arkansas and Red Rivers to their sources. The president wanted to know as much as he could about his recent Louisiana Purchase. After hearing reports about a violent group of Osage Indians stationed along their planned route, Dunbar and Hunter were forced to scale back their planned expedition. The two men explored the Ouachita River.

Thirteen years later, on July 31, 1813, Jefferson received another report of what might have been a UFO, from a tavern keeper named Edward Hansford, and from John Clarke, a visitor from Baltimore, describing what they claim to have seen in the sky above Portsmouth, Virigina. In their letter, they described seeing a fireball that seemed to change shape and take the form of animals. Here is the text of their letter, which is archived at Jefferson's home and present day museum at Monticello:

From Edward Hansford and John L. Clarke
Portsmouth Va July 31st 1813.
most honorable Sir

We the subscribers most earnestly solicit, that your honor will give us your opinion, on the following extraordinary Phenomenon Viz:

At (blank) hour on the night of the 25th instant, we saw in the South a Ball of fire full as large as the sun at Maridian which was frequently obscured within the space of ten minutes by a smoke emitted from its own body, but ultimately retained its briliancy, and form1 during that period, but with apparent agitation. It then assumed the form of a Turtle which also appeared to be much agitated and as frequently obscured by a similar smoke. It descended obliquely to the West, and raised again perpendicular to its original hight which was on or about 75 degrees. It then assumed the shape of a human skeleton which was frequently obscured by a like smoke and as frequently descended and ascended—It then assumed the form of a Scotch Highlander arrayed for battle and extremely agitated, and ultimately passed to the West and disappeared2 in its own smoke. we are honorable

Sir with Sentiments of very high respect & esteem Your most Obedient very humble Servts

Edward Hansford, Keeper of the Washington Tavern in the Town of Portsmouth Virginia—

John L. Clarke, of Baltimore

There is no record of Jefferson responding to this letter. By all indications, Jefferson kept an open mind about what might have been up in the skies. In an 1822 letter, he wrote:

"Of all the departments of science no one seems to have been less advanced for the last hundred years than that of meteorology…the phenomena of snow, hail, halo, Aurora Borealis, haze, looming, etc. are as yet very imperfectly understood. I am myself an empiric in natural philosophy, suffering my faith to go no further than my facts. I am pleased however to see the efforts of hypothetical speculation because by the collisions of different hypotheses truth may be elicited and science advanced in the end."

Presidential X-Files: Ike and the Aliens

In February of 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower took a trip to Palm Springs, California, for what was officially said to be a winter holiday. The President's whereabouts on the night of Saturday, February 20, 1954, are unknown, prompting speculation as to just what the Eisenhower was up to. A number of "alien theorists" (such as Michael Salla, a former American University professor who now runs the Peace Ambassador Program at AU's Center for Global Peace) have speculated that Eisenhower's absence was kept secret because at the time he was holding a secret meeting with emissaries from another planet. The meeting was alleged to have been held at nearby Edwards Air Force Base. William Moore, described as "a prominent California researcher", traveled to the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas,to research the theory and interview the wife of a man who claimed to have witnessed the meeting.

In an article written by Moore on March 29, 1989, he opened his article by noting the observation of noted astronomer Dr. Carl Sagan, who believed that UFOs "are more a matter for religion and superstition than they are for science." With that caveat, Moore acknowledged the existence of a rumored story that President Eisenhower visited Edwards Air Force Base in February of 1954, and either viewed the bodies of dead aliens and the wreckage of their craft, or that he actually met with live aliens on some sort of diplomatic mission to earth. The the common thread to all of these stories was Eisenhower's mysterious disappearance on that Saturday evening while on a vacation to Palm Springs. According to Moore's research, Eisenhower returned by dawn the next morning and shortly thereafter ordered absolute secrecy about anything having to do with UFOs.

Delving into these rumors further, Moore was able to verify that Eisenhower did indeed make a trip to Palm Springs between February 17th and 24th, 1954, and on the evening of Saturday, February 20th, he did disappear. When members of the media learned that the president was AWOL, rumors began to spread that he had either died or was seriously ill. When these rumors threatened to make their way into the newspapers, White House Press Secretary James Haggerty called an urgent late evening press conference to announce "solemnly" that the president had been enjoying fried chicken earlier that evening, had knocked a cap off a tooth, and had been taken to a local dentist for treatment. The Associated Press had already sent a report out onto the newswires that "President Eisenhower died tonight of a heart attack in Palm Springs." Two minutes later, the AP retracted that bulletin and reported that Eisenhower was still alive. Eisenhower turned up as scheduled the next morning for an early church service, and that seemed to end the matter.

In June of 1979, Moore spoke to the the dentist's widow. One might expect that for a local dentist, having the President of the United States as a patient would be an unforgettable experience, but this woman was curiously unable to recall any specifics relating to her husband's alleged involvement in the affair. She was however easily able to recall the details of her and her husband's attendance (by presidential invitation) at a steak fry the following evening, where her husband was introduced as "the dentist who had treated the president". This inconsistency led Moore to conclude that the dental story was a ruse intended to be used as a cover for whatever it was that Eisenhower was actually up to that evening. His research at the Eisenhower Library also uncovered two other facts inconsistent with the dentist story.

The first is that while the library maintains an extensive index of records relating to the president's health, there is no record of any dental work having been performed at all during February, 1954. A file on "Dentists" contains nothing concerning any such incident. Secondly, there is a large file containing copies of all sorts of acknowledgments which were sent by the White House to people who had something to do with the Palm Springs trip. These include letters to people who sent flowers, people who met the airplane, people who had offered to play golf, and even a thank you letter to the minister who presided over the church service Ike attended. Conspicuously absent is any acknowledgment having been sent to "the dentist who treated the president."

So what was Eisenhower really doing that Saturday night? Two months later, a man named Gerald Light wrote a letter to the head of a Southern California metaphysical organization, in which he claimed to have been at Edwards Air Force Base that evening, where he saw Eisenhower. He also claimed that he saw an alien spacecraft and the aliens themselves. Light is described as "an elderly mystic who believed that psychic out-of-body-experiences were a logical extension of the reality of life and should be treated as such."

Professor Salla, who has a PhD in government from the University of Queensland in his native Australia, also supports the theory that Eisenhower went to Edwards Air Force Base, where he met with two extraterrestrials. The two are described as having white hair, pale blue eyes and colorless lips. According to Dr. Salla, these aliens are known as "Nordics" in UFO circles because they resemble Scandinavian humans. Salla claims that they traveled to Edwards from another solar system in an interstellar spacecraft and met with Eisenhower on that Saturday night. He claims that he Nordics communicated telepathically and that they offered to share their superior technology and their spiritual wisdom with Eisenhower if he would agree to eliminate America's nuclear weapons. According to Salla, "They were afraid we might blow up some of our nuclear technology, and apparently that does something to time and space and it impacts on extraterrestrial races on other planets." But Salla says that Eisenhower rejected the offer because he believed that American control of nuclear weapons was the real key to maintaining world peace.

According to Salla, this wasn't the last time Eisenhower met with alien visitors. He claims that sometime later in 1954, Ike reached a deal with another race of extraterrestrials, known as the "Greys". Under the terms of this "treaty". the Greys would be allowed to capture cattle and humans for medical experiments, provided that they returned the humans safely home and otherwise kept the peace with we earthlings. Salla says that since brokering the deal, the "Greys" have kidnapped "millions" of humans and he presents this as the explanation for such phenomena as cattle mutilations, alien abductions and crop circles.

Unsurprisingly, those at the Eisenhower Library deny that any such meetings ever took place. Jim Leyerzapf, an archivist at the Eisenhower Library, told the Washington Post, "There's nothing in the archives that indicates that" before bursting into laughter. He added, "We've had so many requests on that subject that we have a person who specializes in this." That person is archivist Herb Pankratz.

Pankratz add, "It's interesting how these stories have changed. Initially, the accounts claimed the President made a secret trip to Edwards Air Force Base to view the remains of aliens who had crashed at Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. Later stories then claimed he had actually visited with live aliens." He adds, "The lack of a dental record from Dr. Purcell's office has helped fuel belief in this UFO encounter."

As to why the AP reported that Eisenhower had died that night, Pankratz says, "Somebody was fooling around and it went out. It wasn't supposed to go out but it did."

Dr. Salla's theories are contained in his new book, "Exopolitics: Political Implications of the Extraterrestrial Presence" and in an article on his "Exopolitics" Web site ( Coincidentally, Dr. Salla is speaking at a conference in August of this year in Ventura Beach called "Dimensions on Disclosure". One of the other speakers at that conference is Laura Eisenhower, the great-granddaughter of President Dwight Eisenhower. According to her conference bio she will "reveal Exopolitical information" about her grandfather's administration, "that has been largely held in secrecy."