Evelyn Lincoln

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Evelyn Lincoln
Evelyn Lincoln.jpg
Personal Secretary to the President
In office
January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963
PresidentJohn F. Kennedy
Preceded byAnn C. Whitman
Succeeded byGerri Whittington
Personal details
Evelyn Maurine Norton

(1909-06-25)June 25, 1909
Polk County, Nebraska, U.S.
DiedMay 11, 1995(1995-05-11) (aged 85)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Resting placeArlington National Cemetery
Political partyDemocratic

Evelyn Maurine Norton Lincoln (June 25, 1909 – May 11, 1995) was the personal secretary to John F. Kennedy from his election to the United States Senate in 1953 until his 1963 assassination. Lincoln, who was in the motorcade when Kennedy was assassinated, visited Kennedy's grave every year on the anniversary of his death.


Lincoln was born Evelyn Maurine Norton on a farm in Polk County, Nebraska. Her father was John N. Norton, a member of the United States House of Representatives. In 1930, she married Federal worker Harold W. Lincoln, whom she had met as a law student at George Washington University.

Lincoln had always aimed to work on Capitol Hill for a future president, and she achieved this ambition in 1953 by becoming personal secretary to the newly-elected senator from Massachusetts, John F. Kennedy. She proved suitable for the job, and remained close to the president up to the day of his assassination in Dallas, when she was traveling in the same motorcade.[1] She made it a point to visit Kennedy's grave at Arlington National Cemetery every year afterward on the anniversary of his death.

Her personal position about this historic event was the following: in a letter written on 7th October, 1994, she wrote:

As for as the assassination is concerned it is my belief that there was a conspiracy because there were those that disliked him and felt the only way to get rid of him was to assassinate him. These five conspirators, in my opinion, were Lyndon B. Johnson, J. Edgar Hoover, the Mafia, the CIA, and the Cubans in Florida.[2]

In 1968, she wrote a book, Kennedy and Johnson, in which she wrote that President Kennedy had told her that Lyndon B. Johnson would be replaced as Vice President of the United States. Lincoln wrote of that November 19, 1963 conversation, just before the assassination of President Kennedy,

As Mr. Kennedy sat in the rocker in my office, his head resting on its back he placed his left leg across his right knee. He rocked slightly as he talked. In a slow pensive voice he said to me, "You know if I am re-elected in sixty-four, I am going to spend more and more time toward making government service an honorable career. I would like to tailor the executive and legislative branches of government so that they can keep up with the tremendous strides and progress being made in other fields. I am going to advocate changing some of the outmoded rules and regulations in the Congress, such as the seniority rule. To do this I will need as a running mate in sixty-four a man who believes as I do."

Lincoln went on to write "I was fascinated by this conversation and wrote it down verbatim in my diary. Now I asked, 'Who is your choice as a running-mate?' 'He looked straight ahead, and without hesitating he replied, 'at this time I am thinking about Governor Terry Sanford of North Carolina. But it will not be Lyndon.'"

Grave at Arlington National Cemetery

According to the National Archives, Lincoln gave away or sold many of Kennedy's documents and artifacts that she had been entrusted with managing by the Kennedy family after Kennedy's assassination.[3] In 2005, a legal settlement was reached that enabled the National Archives, the Kennedy Library, and Caroline Kennedy to recover thousands of pages of documents and other items. Lincoln died at Georgetown University Hospital in 1995, after complications that followed surgery for cancer. Her ashes were placed in a niche at a columbarium in Arlington National Cemetery.


Lincoln was the author of two books:

  • My 12 Years With John F. Kennedy
  • Kennedy and Johnson, 1968


  1. ^ Thomas Jr., Robert McG. (May 13, 1995). "Evelyn Lincoln, Secretary To Kennedy, Is Dead at 85". New York Times. Retrieved May 24, 2020.
  2. ^ Marrs, Jim (1993). Crossfire. New York: Basic Books. pp. 554, 612. ISBN 978-0-465-03180-1.
  3. ^ "National Archives Recovers Treasure Trove of Kennedy Materials". U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. March 5, 2014. Retrieved May 24, 2020.