Is Abraham Lincoln Haunting the White House?
The White House has its fair share of ghost stories, but the apparition of Abraham Lincoln is said to be the most prominent spirit walking the halls of the People’s House.
Abraham Lincoln was just a few months into his second term as the nation’s sixteenth president when he was assassinated at Ford’s Theater on April 14, 1865, and then died the following day. White House staffers immediately began to see the deceased president’s ghost walking the halls of the residence.
Spiritualism and Seances
Lincoln was 10 months into steering the fractured country through the Civil War when his 11-year-old son, Willie, fell ill and died of typhoid fever in the White House. Lincoln and his wife, Mary, were heartbroken at the loss of their son, and Mary found herself turning to psychics in an attempt to reach out to Willie. The devastated woman hosted eight seances in the White House’s Red Room. Lincoln himself was reportedly in attendance for some of those seances.
Lincoln was prone to visions, telling a friend that he looked in a mirror at the beginning of his first term as president and saw his own reflection staring back with a pale, gaunt face. Mary interpreted it to mean that he would not serve a second term. As time would later reveal, she was right.
The president is said to have dreamed about his own death just days before he was shot by John Wilkes Booth. In the dream, Lincoln walked into the East Room of the White House and encountered a group of soldiers and mourners crowded around a covered body. One of the soldiers in the dream reportedly told him that the president had been assassinated.
Stories about Lincoln’s ghost began circulating immediately after his death. Historians believe that the legend gained traction because of a White House employee who liked to tell ghost stories to reporters, but Lincoln’s ghost is more than just lunch break gossip — he has been seen in the White House by more than a dozen world leaders.
Perhaps the most amusing encounter came when Winston Churchill was visiting President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940 and was staying in the Lincoln Bedroom. The British Prime Minister was nude and smoking a cigar after a bath when he reportedly spotted Lincoln’s ghost.
"Good evening, Mr. President," Churchill reportedly said, according to the Washington Post. "You seem to have me at a disadvantage."
First Lady Grace Coolidge revealed that she had also seen Lincoln’s ghost while her husband was president from 1923 to 1929. She said she saw him looking out of a window in the Lincoln Bedroom, which had been his office during his presidency. It appeared as if he were staring across the Potomac.
The unease around Lincoln’s ghost isn’t limited to people — Ronald Reagan’s dog often stopped to bark at the Lincoln Bedroom and refused to go inside during his time in the White House.