The Fourth of July is right around the corner and what better way to celebrate the birth of the United States then by talking about some of the more paranormal connections shared by our presidents and those around them.
There are the ghosts connected to former presidents, such as the ghost of the man who sold most of Washington D.C. to the US Government, David Burns. There is also the infamous ghost of slain President Abraham Lincoln, who has been seen by future presidents and first ladies as well as distinguished guests.
Another paranormal connection to Washington D.C. is the mysterious connection between Lincoln and John F Kennedy, another president taken down by an assassins bullet while in office.
It did not take long for the first ghosts to move into the White House after it was deemed suitable to move the first family from the former capital in Philadelphia to the new one in Washington. In fact, it was the ghost of Abigail Adams, the wife of the second United States president John Adams, who had moved into the White House for the last year of his term in 1801.
Abigail’s ghost is seen hurrying towards the East Room of the White House, which is where Abigail hung her laundry out to dry while construction continued on the new Capital of the young nation due to that room’s warmth.
Mrs. Adams was not the only first lady to appear at the White House after her death. Dorothy “Dollee” Madison was wife to the fourth President of the United States James Madison, and she made and requested a lot of changes to the grounds of the White House which was mostly swamp land at that time.
This included planting the famous White House ‘Rose Garden.’
Mrs. Madison was both a popular and strong first lady demonstrated by acts like bravely attempting to save valuables from the White House during the Burning of Washington in 1814.
Dollee would return in the early twentieth century during the presidency of Woodrow Wilson. Dollee appeared to gardeners on the White House grounds who had been ordered by Wilson’s second wife to remove the Rose garden at the White House at Mrs. Wilson’s request.
Another famous Washington personality from the past said to haunt the White House is David Burns, who donated the land the White House is built on and had a hand in many of the land deals in and around Washington as it grew.
His ghost has been heard twice in the halls of the White House, one time even calling out: “I’m Mr. Burns.”
Presidents and Queens:
Of course, we are here to talk about dead presidents, and I don’t mean money.
Seventh President Andrew Jackson was the first former commander in chief to show up for duty after his death, apparently heard by Abraham Lincoln’s wife Mary Todd, who reported hearing yelling containing vulgar behavior and loud footsteps.
By 1945 it would seem that Andrew Jackson was still in residence as then President Harry Truman wrote a letter to his wife Bess concerning the visiting former world leader:
“I sit here in this old house and work on foreign affairs, read reports, and work on speeches–all the while listening to the ghosts walk up and down the hallway and even right in here in the study. The floors pop and the drapes move back and forth–I can just imagine old Andy [Jackson] and Teddy [Roosevelt] having an argument over Franklin [Roosevelt].”
Abraham Lincoln is the president with the most paranormal connections, partially because the nature of his death was violent and he seemed to die before his work in the Oval Office was completely done . It was also the dawn of the age of Spiritualism, which Mary Todd Lincoln favored to reach out to her dead sons from the land of the living.
In fact, Mary Lincoln held a seance in the White House to contact her dead son Willie Lincoln more then once Mary was convinced that this was the right thing to do, inspired in part by the fact that Victoria, Queen of England went to seances to make contact with her dead husband, Prince Albert.
Abraham Lincoln himself attended a seance in the White House on April, 23rd, 1863. The Lincoln’s also accepted gifts and replied to letters from psychics and mediums.
Mary Todd Lincoln’s interest in the Spiritualism movement continued after Lincolin’s assassination in 1865. Spiritualists visited the white House after the tragedy and Mary would continue to visit psychics and the like even after she moved from Washington D.C. to Chicago, Illinois.
It was during this period that the infamous picture to the right was taken by William H. Mumler, a popular spirit photographer.
Mumler began dabbling in spirit photography after he purportedly captured the image of a cousin who had been dead for twelve years in a self portrait in the early 1860’s. This capture is widely believed to be the first spirit photograph.
While the actual date that the photograph was taken is in doubt, it was taken before 1869, when Mumler was put on trial for fraud. During that trial, no less then famous Circus owner and showman PT Barnum testified against him. He also had a photographer create the image below the Mumler Lincoln photo with himself as a subject.
Most likely the image of her dead husband that kept Mary Todd Lincoln believing was a very clever double exposure and a case of photographic trickery.
However, where the ghost of Abraham Lincoln goes we have much more reliable wittiness’s then fraudulent mediums and spiritualists.
In the mid to late 1920’s Grace Coolidge, wife of then President Calvin Coolidge, walked into the Oval Office to see the ghost of Lincoln staring out one of the windows.
The windows in question faced the Civil War battlefields near the White House, surely one of Lincolns most troubling issues he faced as President during his times.
Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands claimed that while visiting the White House she heard a knock at her door. When she opened the door she says she was confronted with Lincoln’s ghost and fainted on the spot.
In the Roosevelt era, a White House clerk claimed he actually saw Lincoln’s ghost sitting on one of the beds, removing his boots.
During the turbulent times of the Great Depression and World War Two, Lincoln’s ghost was seen quite a few times in the White House, most notably by the great British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who came out naked from the bath while staying at the White House.
On seeing the ghost of Abraham Lincoln standing by the fireplace while Winston was only wearing the cigar in his mouth he said: “Good evening, Mr. President. You seem to have me at a disadvantage.”
Lyndon Johnson’s wife also claims to have felt Lincoln in the room with her at the White House while watching a television program about Lincoln’s life, but I’m sure we can just chalk that one up to ‘Ladybird’ Johnson’s imagination and being in the location mentioned in the programs numerous times.
The Lincoln-Kennedy Links
Lincoln also is connected in a very odd manner to another former United States President that was also assassinated by a gunman…John F Kennedy.
Shot in late 1963 in Dallas, Texas, Kennedy and Lincoln would share some remarkable similarities both in life and in the act of dying:
- Although it is not odd that both men were members of Congress before becoming President, the years they were each elected to Congress in a bit odd. Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846 and JFK in 1946.
- The dates of their respective Presidential elections are interesting as well. Lincoln was elected on November, 6th 1860 while Kennedy was elected on November, 8th 1960.
- Both Lincoln and Kennedy had psychic premonitions about their deaths and both men received warnings from psychics and mediums before the tragic events.
- Lincoln and Kennedy were both replaced in the Oval Office by men with the surname of Johnson. Additionally, both Johnson’s were born exactly a hundred years apart from each other.
- The cause of death for both men was a gunshot to the head. Both Presidents had their wives sitting next to them when they were shot and both men were killed by men who would be dead themselves before a trial could even begin.
Other White House Ghosts
Although Abraham Lincoln is most likely the most well known ghost to call 1600 Pennsylvania Ave home, there have been others who have had ghostly phenomena happen to them while in the building.
Jenna and Barbara Bush, daughters of former President George W Bush, claimed to have both heard “1920’s music” coming out of the fireplace in Jenna’s bedroom at the white House. Her sister Barbara was unconvinced and so spent the next night in Jenna’s room to prove her wrong.
Almost in defiance, music that sounded like something from an opera came from the fireplace that night. Later, White House staff would admit that the phantom music comes out from that fireplace all the time.
There is also the legend of the ghost of Anna Surrat haunting the North Portico of the White House. It is said she revisits to stop the hanging of her mother, Mary Surrat, who was hung as a conspirator in the Lincoln Assassination and is to date the only woman ever to be executed by the United States.
Many other residents and staffers including Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover and Harry Truman all heard mysterious knocks around the building which at times proved hard to explain.
So what do you think about the ghosts that haunt the White House and some of the legends that surround two of our nation’s greatest leaders?