There have been several stories about ghosts of former Presidents revisiting the White House. However, the most common and popular is that of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln's Ghost, otherwise known as The White House Ghost, is said to have haunted the White House since his death. It is widely believed that when he was president, Lincoln might have known of his assassination before he died.
According to Ward Hill Lamon, Lincoln's friend and biographer, three days before his assassination Lincoln discussed with Lamon and others a dream he had, saying:
Lincoln had a dream in April 1865, the month that he was assassinated. As he recounted to friends the day he died:
"About ten days ago," said he, "I retired very late. I had been up waiting for important dispatches from the front. I could not have been long in bed when I fell into a slumber, for I was weary. I soon began to dream. There seemed to be a death-like 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. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I went from room to room; no living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds of distress met me as I passed along. It was light in all the rooms; every object was familiar to me; but where were all the people who were grieving as if their hearts would break? I was puzzled and alarmed. What could be the meaning of all this? Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise. 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 was 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!' Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which awoke me from my dream. I slept no more that night; and although it was only a dream, I have been strangely annoyed by it ever since."
Reported Apparitions of Lincoln's Ghost
The White House's most famous alleged apparition is that of Abraham Lincoln. Eleanor Roosevelt never admitted to having seen Lincoln's ghost, but did say that she felt his presence repeatedly throughout the White House.
Mrs. Roosevelt also said that the family dog, Fala, would sometimes bark for no reason at what she felt was Lincoln's ghost.
The former president's footsteps are also said to be heard in the hall outside the Lincoln Bedroom.
President Truman himself was once wakened by raps at the door while spending a night in the Lincoln Bedroom.
Others have actually seen an apparition of the former president. The first person reported to have actually seen Lincoln's spirit was First Lady Grace Coolidge, who said she saw the ghost of Lincoln standing at a window in the Yellow Oval Room staring out at the Potomac.
Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt and Maureen Reagan and her husband have all claimed to have seen a spectral Lincoln in the White House. A number of staff members of the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration claimed to have seen Lincoln's spirit, and on one occasion Roosevelt's personal valet ran screaming from the White House claiming he had seen Lincoln's ghost.
Perhaps the most famous incident was in 1942 when Wilhelmina of the Netherlands heard footsteps outside her White House bedroom and answered a knock on the door, only to see Lincoln in frock coat and top hat standing in front of her (she promptly fainted).
One of the most recent sightings came in the early 1980s, when Tony Savoy, White House operations foreman, came into the White House and saw Lincoln sitting in a chair at the top of some stairs.
Several unnamed eyewitnesses have claimed to have seen the shade of Abraham Lincoln actually lying down on the bed in the Lincoln Bedroom (which was used as a meeting room at the time of his administration), and while others have seen Lincoln sit on the edge of the bed and put his boots on. The most famous eyewitness to the latter was Mary Eben, Eleanor Roosevelt's secretary, who saw Lincoln pulling on his boots (after which she ran screaming from the room).
Abraham Lincoln is not the only Lincoln ghost witnesses claim to have seen in the White House. Willie Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln's 11-year-old son, died in the White House of typhoid on February 20, 1862.
Willie Lincoln's ghost was first seen in the White House by staff members of the Grant administration in the 1870s, but has appeared as recently as the 1960s (President Lyndon B. Johnson's college-age daughter, Lynda Bird Johnson Robb, saw the ghost and claims to have talked to him).
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