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.

The Curse of Tippecanoe

It seems that no one is exempt from being the subject of an urban legend—including United States Presidents. Such is the case with the Curse of Tippecanoe.

William Henry Harrison was the eighth President of the United States and the first one to die while in office. He also has the unfortunate distinction of having served the shortest amount of time. His tenure only lasted one month.

President William Henry Harrison (Public Domain)

Prior to his election, Harrison was a military officer who fought in what’s known as Tecumseh’s War. Shawnee leader Tecumseh and his younger brother Tenskwatawa organized a confederation of Indian Tribes to resist the westward expansion of the United States.

In 1811, during the Battle of Tippecanoe, Harrison defeated Tenskwatawa and his troops. It was then that Harrison earned the moniker “Old Tippecanoe.”

In 1931 and 1948, the trivia book series Ripley’s Believe it or Not, noted a pattern in the deaths of several presidents and termed it “The Curse of Tippecanoe.” Strange as it Seems by John Hix ran a cartoon prior to the 1940 election titled The Curse of the Whitehouse and claimed that “In the last 100 years, every U.S. President elected at twenty-year intervals has died in office.”

In 1960, journalist Ed Koterba noted that “The next President of the United States will face an eerie curse that has hung over every chief executive elected in a year ending with zero.”

Let’s look at these presidents.

  • William Henry Harrison, elected in 1840, died of pneumonia.
  • Abraham Lincoln, first elected in 1860, died at the hands of an assassin during his second term.
  • James A. Garfield, elected in 1880. Assassinated.
  • William McKinley’s second election was in 1900. He was also assassinated.
  • Warren G. Harding, elected in 1920, died of a heart attack.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose third election occurred in 1940, died of a cerebral hemorrhage during his fourth term.
  • John F. Kennedy, elected in 1960. Assassinated.

It seems the curse was broken after Kennedy’s death. To date, no elected president has died in office. Ronald Reagan, first elected in 1980, lived fifteen years after he left office. George W. Bush, first elected in 2000, is still living after leaving office in 2009. The current president, Joe Biden, was elected in 2020.

When running for reelection in 1980, a high school student in Dayton, Ohio, asked Jimmy Carter if he was concerned about the supposed curse and predictions. Carter responded he’d seen the predictions and said, “I’m not afraid. If I knew it was going to happen, I would go ahead and be the President and do the best I could until the day I died.”

At age 97, Carter is the longest living U.S. President in history and has lived forty-one years and counting since he left office in 1981.

Reagan survived an assassination attempt. In 2005, someone threw a live grenade at Bush, but it didn’t explode. Two presidents, Thomas Jefferson (1800) and James Monroe (1820) preceded the supposed curse. They survived their presidencies by seventeen and six years, respectively. Of the eight presents who died while in office, only Zachary Taylor was elected in an “off-year” in 1848.

Like Reagan and Bush, many presidents faced assassination attempts or health problems while in office and survived.

What do you think? Curse or strange coincidence?

Lincoln’s Ghost #MysteryMonday

Hey everyone! Those of us in the USA are celebrating President’s Day. Formed by the Uniform Federal Holidays Act in 1971, the day was created to celebrate the birthdays of Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

Today, I’m going to talk about Lincoln.

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.

The bedroom of Peterson House where Lincoln died.

After Lincoln’s death in April 1865, several have 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 gazing out over the Potomac.

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.

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 of these claims are valid, but it sure leaves one to wonder.