Lincoln’s Ghost

Hey everyone! This is another Mystery Monday post from the archives, but it being President’s Day, I thought it was an appropriate time to share it again. I promise to provide new topics after my blog tour ends.

Abraham Lincoln was our sixteenth president and served from 1861-1865 during one of the most tumultuous times in our nation’s history. The country was divided, the north fought against the south, and in some cases, brother against brother.

The balcony of Ford’s Theater where Lincoln sat the night he was assassinated.

Lincoln was probably best known for abolishing slavery, the Gettysburg Address, and his untimely death at the hands of the assassin, John Wilkes Booth. But did you know Lincoln’s ghost is said to inhabit the White House? Or that he had premonitions of his death?

In early 1865, Lincoln told his close friend, Ward Hill Lamon, about a dream he had.

“About ten days ago I retired very late … I soon began to dream. There seemed to be a deathlike 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… I arrived at the East Room. 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, some gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face 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.’”

Eerie, isn’t it? But this wasn’t the first time he saw a foreshadowing of his death. After the 1860 election, he saw a double image of himself in a mirror while still in his Springfield, Illinois home. One was a ghostly shadow of his actual reflection.

His wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, was known to have a strong belief in the supernatural and spiritualism. She didn’t see the double image but supposedly prophesied the reflection meant he would not live long enough to complete his first term in office.

After Lincoln’s death in April 1865, several claimed to have seen his ghost or felt his presence. The press secretary to Lady Bird Johnson believes the first lady felt Lincoln’s presence one evening while watching a program about his death.

First Lady Grace Coolidge reported having seen the ghost of Lincoln in the Oval Office. He stood at a window, hands clasped behind his back, and gazing over the Potomac. Did he see the bloody battlefields beyond? It makes one wonder.

During Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration, the ghost was seen frequently. Queen Wilhelmina of The Netherlands reported being awakened by a knock on her bedroom door when she was a guest. Thinking someone might have an important message, she got out of bed and opened the door to see Lincoln standing in the hallway.

Eleanor Roosevelt used Lincoln’s bedroom as a study. She denied ever seeing his ghost but often said she felt his presence, especially late at night.

Others who claim to have seen the late president were Maureen Reagan, Margaret Truman, Theodore Roosevelt, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

President Lyndon Johnson supposedly encountered Lincoln’s apparition during a time of “great distress.” It’s said Johnson “conversed” with the former president and asked him how he handled an unpopular war. Johnson, of course, was president during the Vietnam conflict.

The last sighting of Lincoln’s ghost was in the early 1980s when White House operations foreman Tony Savoy saw Lincoln sitting in a chair at the top of some stairs. I don’t know if any or all these claims are valid, but it sure leaves one to wonder.

43 thoughts on “Lincoln’s Ghost

  1. I don’t know whether the stories are real or imagined, but as ghosts go, I’d rather see Lincoln’s than most any other, I think. And it’s compelling that so many people have reported seeing him. That alone makes one wonder, doesn’t it?

    Very interesting post, Joan. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. I’d rather see him that a lot of people. Given the number of people and the fact they were well-known, makes me tend to believe this.

      Totally unrelated (well sort of unrelated), I’m sure you’ve heard the song “Abraham, Martin, and John.” When we visited Arlington National Cemetery and saw Bobby Kennendy’s grave, I thought of that song. It’s on a hillside and I could picture, Bobby, Abraham, Martin, and John walking there together. Brought tears to my eyes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. VERY familiar with the song, Joan, and it always brought tears to my eyes by itself. Thinking about it while visiting Arlington would have left me in tears, too. (Matter of fact, I’m blinking back a couple right now just thinking about it! 😕

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, Teri. If it had just been one or two people, I might think otherwise. But since it happened to many and over a period of several presidencies, I tend to think the sightings were real.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a good post, Joan!! I knew there were rumors about Lincoln’s ghost, along with others I’m sure. But I didn’t know the details you’ve shared. I didn’t know about his premonitions either. Thanks for sharing this one!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The premonitions are scary! Back in the early 80s, there was a TV miniseries, The Blue and The Gray. In it, a character played by Stacy Keech had premonitions about the war and Lincoln’s death. It’s still one of my favorites to watch.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I checked Amazon and it’s available on DVD. We’ve had it for several years. We once bought a DVD that had so many scenes cut it wasn’t funny, but we were finally able to get the full version. Gregory Peck plays Lincoln, and he did a great job.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s a lot of sightings, Joan. It does make one wonder, especially since these are highly respected and relatively sane people. I actually like the idea that there are ghosts around. That means that death may not be quite as final as many believe. Thanks for the fascinating post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lincoln has always fascinated me. Maybe it’s because he was president during such a tumultuous time. I was privileged to visit Ford’s Theater and the house where he died a few years ago. Like you, I enjoy ghost stories.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I had known about his premonitions and about the sightings and feelings in the White House. It really does make you wonder.

    I wonder if he hasn’t been in the White House since the 1980s because he’s not happy with how our political class has been behaving. Food for thought…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. With so many sightings of his ghost, it almost seems like his spirit lingered. And you have to wonder why some people, like Queen Wilhelmina of The Netherlands, would invent such a stories if they weren’t true. I thought her encounter was particularly interesting.

    That is so creepy about Lincoln’s premonitions and the dream.
    This was a ideal post for President’s Day, Joan!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I had heard about Lincoln’s premonition, but I didn’t know it was so specific. The mirror thing is freaky. Since more than one person saw his ghost, it makes me think he could have stayed at the White House after his death, at least until the 1980s.

    Liked by 1 person

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