Friday, February 4, 2011

Does Abraham Lincoln still walk the White House corridors?

Does the ghost of the Great Emancipator still walk the halls of the White House? It’s a startling question to ponder as the 202nd anniversary of Lincoln’s log-cabin birth in 1809 comes up this Wednesday, Feb. 12.

Trust-busting President Teddy Roosevelt said in the early 1900s: “I see him in the different rooms and in the halls.” Depression-era President Franklin Roosevelt’s valet fled the White House’s second floor screaming one day after spotting Lincoln’s specter.

The most striking of many stories came from the Netherland’s Queen Wilhelmina: Late one night during a state visit, she heard a knock at the door of her White House guest room. Opening the door, she fainted when she saw Lincoln’s tall frame stooped under the door jamb, wearing his trademark top hat.

Some paranormal observers have wondered if our greatest President might be earthbound by his sudden and violent death or by a deep love for a country he watched over in its time of agony.

White House employees – and President Calvin Coolidge’s wife Grace in the 1920s -- allegedly several times saw the ghost of the 16th President at a window in the Oval Office, where Lincoln used to look out with concern over the Potomac River to Virginia during the Civil War.

Britain’s famous wartime prime minister Winston Churchill refused to sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom during his many White House visits after supposedly sighting the phantom during the first and only occasion he slept in the room.

President Ronald Reagan’s daughter, Maureen, was quoted in Newsweek magazine as saying she and her husband woke up one morning to see the “transparent figure” of Lincoln standing at a window, looking out. President Reagan’s dog reportedly would not enter the Lincoln bedroom but sometimes stood outside it, barking.

Lincoln supposedly had a premonitory dream shortly before he was fatally shot in the head by assassin John Wilkes Booth in the final days of the Civil War after General Lee’s surrender of the largest Confederate army.

In the dream, Lincoln heard subdued sobbing, left his bed and wandered downstairs, going from room to room, still hearing the sobs but seeing no one. Finally, in the East Room, he saw a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments, guarded by soldiers. The body’s face was covered. "Who is dead in the White House?" Lincoln asked one of the soldiers. "The president,” the soldier answered. “He was killed by an assassin."

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