Is the White House Really Haunted by Abraham Lincoln’s Ghost?

Abraham Lincoln was only a few months into his second term as the country’s sixteenth president when he was killed at Ford’s Theater on April 14, 1865, and died the next day. White House staffers soon noticed the departed president’s spirit strolling the halls of the mansion.

Spiritualism & Seances

Lincoln was ten months into leading the shattered country through the Civil War when his 11-year-old son, Willie, became ill and died of typhoid fever in the White House. Lincoln and his wife, Mary, were devastated by the loss of their son, and Mary turned to psychics in an attempt to reach Willie. The bereaved woman had eight seances in the White House’s Red Room. Lincoln reportedly attended several of those seances.

Lincoln was known to have visions, telling a friend that at the start of his first term as president, he glanced in a mirror and saw his own reflection staring back with a pale, haggard face. Mary saw it as indicating that he would not serve a second term. As time would show, she was correct.

Just days before being shot by John Wilkes Booth, the president reportedly had a dream about his own death. In the dream, Lincoln entered the White House’s East Room and found a gathering of soldiers and mourners gathered around a covered body. One of the soldiers in the dream allegedly informed him that the president had been slain.

Lingering Lincoln

Is the White House Really Haunted by Abraham Lincoln's Ghost?

Stories concerning Lincoln’s spirit circulated immediately following his death. Historians believe the idea originated with a White House employee who enjoyed telling ghost stories to reporters, but Lincoln’s ghost is more than just lunchtime chatter; he has been seen in the White House by more than a dozen foreign leaders.

Perhaps the most humorous incident occurred when Winston Churchill visited President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940 and stayed in the Lincoln Bedroom. The British Prime Minister apparently saw Lincoln’s ghost while naked and smoking a cigar after taking a bath.

“Good evening, Mr. President,” Churchill reportedly said, according to the Washington Post. “You seem to have me at a disadvantage.”

First Lady Grace Coolidge said that she had also seen Lincoln’s ghost during her husband’s presidency from 1923 to 1929. She said she observed him looking out a window in the Lincoln Bedroom, which served as his office throughout his presidency. It appeared that he was peering across the Potomac.

The fear of Lincoln’s ghost is not restricted to humans; Ronald Reagan’s dog frequently stopped to bark at the Lincoln Bedroom and refused to enter during his time in the White House.

Honest Abe isn’t the only ghost roaming the White House grounds. Some paranormal investigators believe there is a malicious presence in the sacred halls.


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