Lincoln–Kennedy coincidences urban legend

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Abraham Lincoln
John F. Kennedy

Claimed coincidences connecting U.S. Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy are a piece of American folklore of unknown origin. The list of coincidences appeared in the mainstream American press in 1964, a year after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, having appeared prior to that in the GOP Congressional Committee Newsletter.[1][2] Martin Gardner examined the list in an article in Scientific American, later reprinted in his book, The Magic Numbers of Dr. Matrix.[3] Gardner's version of the list contained 16 items; many subsequent versions have circulated much longer lists. The list is still in circulation today, having endured in the popular imagination for over 50 years. In 1992, the Skeptical Inquirer ran a "Spooky Presidential Coincidences Contest." One winner found a series of sixteen similar coincidences between Kennedy and former Mexican President Álvaro Obregón, while the other came up with similar lists for twenty-one pairs of U.S. presidents.[4]

The list[edit]

The following are the list of "coincidences" that are commonly associated with the conspiracy, some of which are not true statements:

  • "Lincoln" and "Kennedy" each have 7 letters.[5]
  • Both presidents were elected to Congress in '46 [5] and later to the presidency in '60.[5]
  • Both married women in their 20s while themselves in their 30s.[6]
  • Both lost a son while living in the White House.[5]
  • Both were shot in the presence of their wives.
  • Both assassins, John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald, were born in '39 [5] and were known by their three names, [5] composed of fifteen letters.[5]
  • Booth ran from Ford's Theatre and was caught in a warehouse; Oswald ran from the Dealey Plaza warehouse and was caught in a theater.[5]
  • Both presidents were runners-up for the party's nomination for vice-president in '56.
  • Both successors were Southern Democrats surnamed Johnson; [5] both were born in '08 and their first names contained six letters.
  • The assassins were both Southerners.[5]
  • Both were particularly concerned with civil rights.[5] and made their views strongly known in '63. Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, which became law a year later. A century later, Kennedy presented his reports to Congress on Civil Rights, during the famous March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom that same year.
  • Both presidents were shot in the head [5] on a Friday [5] and died at nearby locations (Lincoln at the Petersen House across the street and Kennedy at Parkland Memorial Hospital down the road).
  • Lincoln was shot at Ford's Theatre. Kennedy was shot in a Ford car: a Lincoln limousine.
  • Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy who told him not to go to Ford's Theatre. Kennedy had a secretary named Evelyn Lincoln (whose husband Harold's nickname was Abe), and she warned him not to go to Dallas.[5]
  • Both Oswald and Booth were assassinated before they could be put on trial.[5]

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Fact checks[edit]

True statements[edit]

  • Both were elected to congress in '46: Lincoln was elected in 1846 from Illinois[7][8], and Kennedy was elected in 1946 from Massachusetts[9][10].
  • Both were elected to the presidency in '60: Lincoln was elected in 1860[11][12], and Kennedy was elected in 1960[13][14].
  • Both have seven letters in their last names ("Lincoln" and "Kennedy").
  • Both were concerned with civil rights:
  • Both married in their 30s to women in their 20s:
    • Lincoln was married on November 4, 1842[18][19], Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809[15][8], making him 33 years old at the time of his wedding. Lincoln's bride, Mary Anne Todd, was born on December 13, 1818[20][21], making her 23 years old at the time of the wedding.
    • Kennedy was married on September 12, 1953[22][23], Kennedy was born on May 29, 1917[22][10], making him 36 years old at the time of his wedding. Kennedy's bride, Jacqueline Bouvier, was born on July 28, 1929[24][25], making her 24 years old at the time of the wedding.
  • Both lost a son while living in the White House: Lincoln lost his 11-year-old son, William[26][27], and Kennedy lost his infant son, Patrick[28][29].
  • Both son's names, William Wallace Lincoln and Patrick Bouvier Kennedy have 21 letters each (with each having 7 letters each (first, middle and last name)).
  • Both were shot on a Friday: Lincoln was shot on Good Friday, April 14, 1865[15][30], and Kennedy was shot on Friday, November 22, 1963[31][32].
  • Both were shot in the head. (Lincoln[33][34] and Kennedy[35][36]).
  • Both were shot in the presence of their wives. (Lincoln[37][38] and Kennedy[36][39]).
  • Both were assassinated by Southerners: Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth from Maryland[40][41], and Kennedy was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald from New Orleans, Louisiana[42][43].
  • Both of the presidents' successors were named Johnson: Lincoln was succeeded by Andrew Johnson[44][45], and Kennedy was succeeded by Lyndon B. Johnson[46][47].
  • Both were succeeded by Southerners: Andrew Johnson was from Tennessee[48], and Lyndon B. Johnson was from Texas[49][50].
  • Both successors were born in '08: Andrew Johnson was born December 29, 1808[51][48], and Lyndon B. Johnson was born August 27, 1908[49][50]
  • Both assassins, John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald, are known by their three names (but this could be debunked due to giving the authorities and the media all three names for reasons of indentifying and/or arresting the correct person).
  • Each assassin's full name is composed of fifteen letters.
  • Booth ran from the theater and was caught in a warehouse, and Oswald ran from a warehouse and was caught in a theater:

Uncertain assertions[edit]

  • Booth and Oswald were assassinated before their trials:

False assertions[edit]

  • Although President Kennedy did have a female secretary named Evelyn Lincoln[58], there is no record that President Lincoln had a secretary named "Kennedy"[5].
  • Both assassins were born in '39: John Wilkes Booth was born May 10, 1838[40][41], while Lee Harvey Oswald was born October 18, 1939[42][43].
  • Later lists included a "kicker" that a week before Lincoln was shot he was in Monroe, Maryland and a week before Kennedy was shot he was with Marilyn Monroe. Both statements are untrue due to the fact that there is no such place as Monroe, Maryland and Marilyn Monroe died a year earlier.

Continuation[edit]

  • Both Presidents Johnson were succeeded by Republicans.
  • Ulysses Simpson Grant succeeded Andrew Johnson, and Richard Milhous Nixon succeeded Lyndon Baines Johnson.
  • The names Ulysses Simpson Grant and Richard Milhous Nixon each have nineteen letters.
  • The middle name "Simpson" was Grant's mother's maiden name. The middle name "Milhous" was Nixon's mother's maiden name.
  • Both Grant and Nixon were reelected to second terms.
  • The Grant Administration and the Nixon Administration were both plagued by scandal.
  • Schulyer Colfax, Grant's first Vice President, and Spiro Agnew, Nixon's first Vice President, were corrupt.
  • Grant's second Vice President, Henry Wilson, and Nixon's Vice President, reelected to a second term, did not finish their full terms in office.

Analysis[edit]

Some urban folklorists have postulated that the list provided a way for people to make sense of two tragic events in American history by seeking out patterns.[5] Gardner and others have said that it is relatively easy to find seemingly meaningful patterns relating any two people or events.

Most of the items above are true, such as the year in which Lincoln and Kennedy were each elected President, but this is not so unusual given that Presidential elections are held only every four years. A few of the items are simply untrue: for example, there is no record to show that Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy; Lincoln's secretaries were John Hay and John G. Nicolay. John Wilkes Booth was born in 1838, not 1839, and Lee Harvey Oswald was normally just "Lee Oswald" before the assassination.[5] However, Lincoln's footman, William H. Crook did advise Lincoln not to go that night to Ford's Theatre.[59][60] David Mikklenson, on Snopes, also points out numerous ways in which Lincoln and Kennedy don't match, to show the superficial nature of the alleged coincidences: For example, Lincoln was born in 1809 but Kennedy in 1917; though Lincoln and Kennedy were both elected in '60, Lincoln was already in his second term when assassinated but Kennedy was not, and neither the years, months, nor dates of their assassinations match.

Musical legacy[edit]

Buddy Starcher wrote a song recounting many of these coincidences and parallels between the two presidents' careers and deaths entitled "History Repeats Itself." It became a U.S. Top 40 hit for him during the spring of 1966,[61] and reached number two on the Country chart. Cab Calloway also scored a minor chart hit with the song that same year.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ A Compendium of Curious Coincidences Archived January 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, TIME, August 21, 1964
  2. ^ Newsweek, August 10, 1964
  3. ^ The Magic Numbers of Dr. Matrix By Martin Gardner. 1985. Prometheus Books. Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 84-43183, ISBN 0-87975-281-5 (cloth), 0-87975-282-3 (paper) (This was previously titled The Numerology of Dr. Matrix. It contains all of The Incredible Dr. Matrix plus four more chapters.)
  4. ^ Martin, Bruce (September–October 1998). "Coincidences: Remarkable or Random?" (PDF). Skeptical Inquirer. 22 (5). Archived from the original (PDF) on April 17, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Mikkelson, Barbara & David P. "Linkin' Kennedy" at Snopes.com: Urban Legends Reference Pages. Accessed June 2, 2019.
  6. ^ "Lincoln/Kennedy Coincidence or Not | Jfk and abraham lincoln, Jfk facts, Lincoln kennedy". Pinterest. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  7. ^ "History - Abraham Lincoln Papers - Collection Connections | Teacher Resources - Library of Congress". www.loc.gov. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  8. ^ a b Editors, History com. "Abraham Lincoln". HISTORY. Retrieved May 17, 2020.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  9. ^ "JFK in Congress". National Archives. March 24, 2017. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  10. ^ a b Editors, History com. "John F. Kennedy". HISTORY. Retrieved May 17, 2020.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  11. ^ Editors, History com. "Abraham Lincoln elected president". HISTORY. Retrieved May 17, 2020.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  12. ^ "On This Day, Abraham Lincoln is elected President". National Constitution Center. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  13. ^ Editors, History com. "John F. Kennedy elected president". HISTORY. Retrieved May 17, 2020.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  14. ^ "Campaign of 1960 | JFK Library". www.jfklibrary.org. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  15. ^ a b c "Abraham Lincoln". The White House. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  16. ^ Editors, History com. "Civil Rights Act of 1964". HISTORY. Retrieved May 17, 2020.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  17. ^ "Civil Rights Movement | JFK Library". www.jfklibrary.org. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  18. ^ Editors, History com. "Abraham Lincoln marries Mary Todd". HISTORY. Retrieved May 17, 2020.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  19. ^ "Marriage to Mary Todd – Abraham Lincoln Historical Society". www.abraham-lincoln-history.org. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  20. ^ "Mary Todd Lincoln". Biography. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  21. ^ "Mary Lincoln Biography :: National First Ladies' Library". www.firstladies.org. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  22. ^ a b "John F. Kennedy". The White House. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  23. ^ "Wedding of Jacqueline Bouvier and John F. Kennedy, Newport, Rhode Island, September 12, 1953 | JFK Library". www.jfklibrary.org. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  24. ^ "Life of Jacqueline B. Kennedy | JFK Library". www.jfklibrary.org. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  25. ^ "Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis | Biography & Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  26. ^ "Family: William Wallace Lincoln (1850-1862)". Mr. Lincoln's White House. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  27. ^ "The Death and Funeral of Willie Lincoln". www.abrahamlincolnonline.org. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  28. ^ Times, William M. Blair Special To the New York (August 10, 1963). "Kennedys Mourning Baby Son; Funeral Today Will Be Private; KENNEDYS MOURN DEATH OF INFANT Condolences Arrive 25,000 Victims a Year Functioning Inhibited". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  29. ^ Altman, Lawrence K.; M.D (July 29, 2013). "A Kennedy Baby's Life and Death". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  30. ^ "What Happened on April 14, 1865". OnThisDay.com. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  31. ^ "November 22, 1963: Death of the President | JFK Library". www.jfklibrary.org. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  32. ^ "What Happened on November 22, 1963". OnThisDay.com. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  33. ^ Editors, History com. "Abraham Lincoln's Assassination". HISTORY. Retrieved May 17, 2020.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  34. ^ "The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln". www.ushistory.org. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  35. ^ "November 22, 1963: Death of the President | JFK Library". www.jfklibrary.org. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  36. ^ a b Editors, History com. "Assassination of John F. Kennedy". HISTORY. Retrieved May 17, 2020.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  37. ^ Editors, History com. "Abraham Lincoln's Assassination". HISTORY. Retrieved May 17, 2020.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  38. ^ "assassination of Abraham Lincoln | Summary, Conspirators, & Trial". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  39. ^ "JFK Assassination Timeline | The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza". Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  40. ^ a b Editors, History com. "John Wilkes Booth". HISTORY. Retrieved May 17, 2020.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  41. ^ a b "John Wilkes Booth | Biography, Conspiracy, Death, & Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  42. ^ a b c "Lee Harvey Oswald". Biography. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  43. ^ a b c "Lee Harvey Oswald | Biography, Facts, & Death". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  44. ^ "Andrew Johnson". The White House. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  45. ^ "Andrew Johnson". Biography. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  46. ^ Editors, History com. "Assassination of John F. Kennedy". HISTORY. Retrieved May 17, 2020.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  47. ^ "November 22, 1963: Death of the President | JFK Library". www.jfklibrary.org. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  48. ^ a b "Andrew Johnson". Biography. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  49. ^ a b "Lyndon B. Johnson". The White House. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  50. ^ a b "Lyndon B. Johnson". Biography. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  51. ^ "Andrew Johnson". The White House. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  52. ^ Editors, History com. "Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth dies". HISTORY. Retrieved May 17, 2020.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  53. ^ "assassination of Abraham Lincoln | Summary, Conspirators, & Trial". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  54. ^ Editors, History com. "Assassination of John F. Kennedy". HISTORY. Retrieved May 17, 2020.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  55. ^ "Lee Harvey Oswald | Biography, Facts, & Death". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  56. ^ "The Insane Story of the Guy Who Killed the Guy Who Killed Lincoln | Washingtonian (DC)". Washingtonian. April 12, 2015. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  57. ^ "Boston Corbett – The Mad Hatter who Killed John Wilkes Booth". New England Historical Society. September 2, 2016. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  58. ^ "National Archives Recovers Treasure Trove of Kennedy Materials". National Archives. August 15, 2016. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  59. ^ "William Crook". PBS. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  60. ^ Lloyd Lewis (1994). The Assassination of Lincoln: History and Myth. University of Nebraska Press. p. 297. ISBN 9780803279490.
  61. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X

External links[edit]