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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ghosts Haunt White House

Psychics believe the spirit of the sixteenth president of the United States never left the White House. Abraham Lincoln (1861-65) is best remembered for his leadership in preserving the Union during the Civil War and for beginning the process to end slavery in the US. Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865 by Southern sympathizer John Wilkes Booth in Ford’s Theater. President Lincoln died the following day. Since his death, members of the White House staff have claimed to have seen or felt his presence. Strangely, prior to his death, President Lincoln is said to have foreseen his demise on several occasions.

According to a close friend, Lincoln retired late one night and fell into a restless sleep and began to dream. He heard mournful sobbing from somewhere in the White House. He followed the mysterious weeping to the East Room where soldiers guarded a catafalque. On it, a corpse rested, gowned in funeral vestments. A throng of mourners surrounded the body. Lincoln demanded to know who had died and was told “The President.”

This was not the first time Lincoln had a premonition of his death. He once saw a double image of his reflection in the mirror, himself and a chalky image. His highly superstitious wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, perceived it to mean the president would be elected for a second term but would be assassinated. Lincoln’s morose account of his own mortality was never more pronounced than the morning of his death. He called a cabinet meeting and told them they would receive news the following day. When pressed, he informed them he had the same dream three times that he was in a boat in the ocean with no oars. That night he was fatally shot in the head with one bullet and died the following day.

The Lincolns had three sons but only one of them lived to adulthood. Edward died at the age of four and young Willie succumbed to a fever during his father’s first term. Lincoln took the death of Willie very hard and often visited his crypt where he was buried and would weep copiously. Mary Todd Lincoln suggested holding seances in the White House to bring back their dead son’s spirit. These seances were not thought to be successful and Lincoln was said to have attended only two of them.

During the administration of Ulysses S. Grant, a staff member of the White House is said to have had a conversation with young Willie when he saw his spirit. And during the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, Lynda Johnson Robb occupied the room where Willie died, which was also the room where Abraham Lincoln’s autopsy was performed and where Truman’s mother expired. Lynda Johnson Robb is said to have felt the sadness in that room.

Lady Bird Johnson reported feeling the spirit of President Lincoln one spring night when watching a documentary about his death. She noticed a plaque she’d never seen before hanging over the fireplace. It mentioned the importance of Lincoln in this room. Mrs. Johnson is said to have felt a cold draft go through her and a sense of uneasiness. This disquieting presence has been felt by others. Grace Coolige, wife of Calvin Coolige, thirtieth president of the United States, was the first person to report having actually seen the ghost of Lincoln. She said he stood at the Oval Office, hands clasped behind his back, gazing out the window overlooking the Pontiac, perhaps still seeing the bloody battlefields beyond.

The ghost of Lincoln was reported to be seen frequently during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt when the country went through a great depression and world war. When Queen Wilhemina of the Netherlands was a guest at the White House she was awakened by a knock at the door. When she opened it, an apparition stood there in a top hat. The queen fainted and when she came to, the apparition had vanished.

Eleanor Roosevelt used Lincoln’s bedroom as a study and while never seeing his ghost, often felt his presence standing behind her, peering over her shoulder. Her secretary once spotted Lincoln’s ghost sitting on the bed in the Northwest Room, pulling on a pair of boots.

During the administration of every president since the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, his benevolent spirit has been seen or felt. The ghostly image of the tall, gangly man with the black stovepipe hat and long, sad face is thought to linger in the home of the nation he fought so hard to preserve.

Have you felt the presence of a spirit in your house? Seen an apparition? Heard unexplained tapping or the thundering of footsteps? Have a ghost story to share with me? I’d love to hear it. Please leave a comment.


Susan Macatee said...

Great post, Sharon! I've heard some of these stories about Lincoln before, but it still gave me chills to read them again.

I've never felt a ghostly presence in my own house, or anywhere else, but do love hearing others accounts of them.

Hywela Lyn said...

Hi Sharon, what a fascinating post! I hadn't heard most of these stories of Lincoln before.

I've only had one really eerie experience. It was some years ago when I was attending a writing weekend at an old mansion in Wales, Gregynnog. It was reputed to be haunted by a lady whose family used to own it but who lost their money and had to leave it. I felt nothing but a warm, welcoming presence, not cold or frightening at all. There was a statue of a huge hand in the spacious gardens. I took a photo of a friend standing beside it, and he took one of me. When they were printed the one of him was fine, nice and clear and sharp. the one of me, taken seconds later, with the same camera, showed a mistin the bushes behind me and the shadowy figure of a lady in a long flowing dress. It wasn't easy to see unless you looked really hard, and it was another friend who first spotted it, and it eventually faded over time.

DRUMROLL; And the winner of my 'Birthday Bash' prize, a download of 'Dancing With Fate is:

Congratulations mickey - if you contact me at hywelalyn at hywelalyn dot co dot uk I'll send you your prize.

Thanks again to everyone who commented and made my Birthday so special!

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Susan. You know I've heard the White House was haunted but never knew it was Lincoln's spirit and that of his young son. I don't have a ghost story personally but when my mom's oldest sister died, all the sisters slep in her house the night before her funeral. They all said the following morning they heard footsteps coming into each room and felt covers being tucked around them. All agreed it was a peaceful feeling and seemed to give them closure.

Sharon Donovan said...

Ohhhh Lyn. I have chills reading this! I can't even imagine how creepy that must have been. Did it give you the wee willies? I've also heard that when a violent death as a murder occurs in a home the spirit is restless and will linger.

Congratulations Mickey on winning Dancing with Fate!

Mary Ricksen said...

A ghost story huh?
Well one time when I was living in my grandfathers house, I felt one.
I had just left school, I was depressed and feeling pretty sorry for myself.
Living there I still felt the presence of my grandmother who loved me unconditionally. I was crying and at my wits end, not knowing how to find myself or happiness. I talked to her that nite, I asked for support, I needed someone to tell me everything would be okay, things would work out somehow. I asked for a sign as I was crying and telling her how I missed her so, I felt a hand touch my shoulder and I looked at my shoulder. On it I could see the impression of a hand, fingers all defined. It scared the living poo outta me. Even though I loved her it still scared me.

Sharon Donovan said...

Mary, I think this is a case of being careful what we wish for! oooh I have chills...good chills but stil chills. You must have had a very special bond to be heard and answered so quickly.

Sandy Wickersham-McWhorter said...

I would love to see Pres. Lincoln and talk with him. His face reminds me of my father's, though a my father's was less craggy, of course. I think the talk would be very enlightening and comforting, like talking to my father. Because he was tall and gangly like me, I always liked him; as I grew and knew more about him, he became my favorite president.
I don't really have a ghost story, but once when I was a young teen, I heard someone say "Sandy" when I was in the basement doing something for my grandmother, who I lived with. I yelled up the steps to ask what she wanted and she hadn't called for me. Edward who rented a room from here wasn't there so he couldn't have done it. I don't know if the voice was a male or female, it was just a voice.

Sharon Donovan said...

Sandy, that's a nice thought, having the opportunity to chat with a man who did so much for our country. Some say Lincoln's spirit lingers to protect his country. We all have those stories where we believe we are being touched by someone who has left this earth. I believe it is all part of closure and meant to help us find peace.

Amber Leigh Williams said...

Sharon, though I'm not fond of that chilling feeling, I do like to hear about benevolent spirits. Makes me feel a little easier.

My parents have one we call "Myrtle" (after the ghost of a girl who haunts a bathroom at Hogwarts in Harry Potter) that's been with them for some time. When I was still living at home, I remember lying in bed at night and hearing footfalls on the attic floor above. Ice has spewed out of their refrigerator randomly. My dad didn't believe it until they brought home their rescue dog, Murphy. One day he was working at home and he heard Murphy growling and saw the hair on the back of his back standing on end. Apparently, Murphy had seen Myrtle. Though we've never actually seen her, she does make her presence known in little ways. Thankfully, like Lincoln, so far she has been benevolent - a part of the family even. We like to use her stories to scare my younger sister's boyfriends from coming around, LOL

Happy Halloween!


The Roses of Prose, Authors of Women's Fiction & Romance

Sharon Donovan said...

LOL Amber, about using the ghost story to scare off the boyfriend! Too funny. But ooooooh that is a chilling thought, ice spewing out at will. And I believe dogs and cats and other animals can see what humans cannot. My sister had a ghost at her house and the black cat Julio would often stare up the steps, hissing with his back arched and rigid. And then we would hear footsteps racing and no one was there!