Monday, September 10, 2012

The White House Ghost

With the GOP and Democratic national conventions over and the November election coming up, I thought it would be fun to explore the ghostly goings on in the most famous address in the country.  1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is reportedly home to a host of spirits, with one of the most famous presidents in our history topping the list.

The home of the Commander in Chief is no stranger to the paranormal.  Jimmy Carter once reported seeing a UFO.  Nancy Reagan regularly cosulted astrologists.  The ghost of Abigail Adams has been seen more than once, hanging wash out to dry.  Most commonly reported, and by some quite notable witnesses, is the ghost of Abraham Lincoln.  It has been seen so often, it has came to be referred to as simply the White House Ghost.

While in office, Lincoln and his wife Mary dabbled in Spiritualism.  They routinely held séances to try and contact their son Willie, who had passed away in the White House.  President Lincoln also received advice from spirit visitors, such as the specter of the deceased Massachusetts Senator Daniel Webster, who urged him to continue his fight to free the slaves.  

Just prior to his assassination, Lincoln encountered a doppleganger-like figure in a mirror.  Seeing one's doppleganger is in some cultures an omen of impending death.  While lying on a couch Lincoln saw his reflection as having two distinct faces.  He rose and went to the mirror, finding his reflection normal.  Returning to the couch, he saw the strange reflection a second time.  He said this time, one of the faces were noticeably paler than the other.  A few days later he attempted to recreate the event.  Sure enough, it came back.  After several more attempts, however, Lincoln was never able to make the doppleganger image reappear.  He tried unsuccessfully to have it appear before his wife.  Mary was very concerned.  She saw the doppleganger as a sign that Lincoln would be re-elected to a second term, but would not live to see the end of it.

On the day of his assassination, John Kennedy remarked to his wife and friends, "If someone is going to kill me, they're going to kill me."  Several eerie coincidences connect the Lincoln and Kennedy assassinations. See the video below for more on that.  Days before his own assassination, Lincoln told of a dream he had, in which he found himself wandering about the White House.  He could hear sobbing.  Following the noise, he entered the East Room to find a body laid out before mourners.  Soldiers stood guard around it.  Upon asking who was dead, a soldier replied, "The president, he was killed by an assassin."  A full account of the dream can be found here: Lincoln's Dream


Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865 by John Wilkes Booth.  He suffered a gunshot to the head and died hours later.  Since then, apparitions of his spirit have been haunting the executive mansion.  Calvin Coolidge's wife reported on several occasions seeing the ghost of Lincoln standing at the window of the Oval Office, hands clasped behind his back, staring out across the Potomic where the bloody battlefields of the Civil War once were.  

Paranormal events linked to Lincoln were reported frequently during FDR's administration.  It's been theorized this is related to both presidents being in office during times of great war.  Eleanor Roosevelt used the Lincoln Bedroom as a study and although she never saw an apparition, said she often felt as though she was bring watched and believed it to be Lincoln's presence.  A clerk for the Roosevelt administration saw Lincoln's ghost sitting on the edge of a bed pulling his boots off. 

Abe Lincoln: Ghostbuster

Ronald  Reagan's spaniel, Rex, often barked at the door to The Lincoln Bedroom and refused to enter it.  Being at the height of the Cold War, he had his staff check into it when he began to wonder if the Ruskie's might be sending some kind of high-frequency signal into the White House.  He dismissed this notion when no evidence was found, and decided it was paranormal in nature after his daughter Maureen along with her husband saw Lincoln's ghost several times while spending the night in the Lincoln Bedroom.

Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands was spending the night in the White House when she was awakened by a knocking on her door.  She answered the door to find the specter of Abraham Lincoln standing before her.  She was so frightened she fainted.  When she awoke the ghost was gone.

During WWII Winston Churchill was spending the night at the White House.  He liked to take a bath and have a cigar before retiring to bed.  Retuning to the adjoining bedroom in his birthday suit, Churchill discovered Lincoln's ghost standing by the fireplace.  “Good evening, Mr. President. You seem to have me at disadvantage,” he said, as Lincoln was fully dressed.  

Several other Presidents, First Ladies, and White House visitors have seen or felt the presence of Abraham Lincoln.  His ghost is also said to be spotted at Ford's Theater where he was shot, and in Springfield, Illinois at his gravesite.  A ghost train, identical to the one that carried Lincoln's body across much of the country following his death, is said to be seen in several places along it's original route, sometimes carrying a skeletal band playing music that cannot be heard.

Mary Todd after Lincoln's death.  Taken by spiritualist photographer later proven to be a fraud.


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