Oct 302013


What IS Right With America? Spooky Tales at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Boo! Did you know that “The People’s House” is haunted? There are apparently a number of famous apparitions floating through the halls at the White House. Perhaps the most famous spirit frequently heard from is that of our 16th President: Abraham Lincoln. The link between Lincoln and the netherworld began even before his passing. As you may recall, Lincoln told his former law partner, Ward Hill Lamon, and his wife of a dream in which he found he had been assassinated only days before the actual event occurred. In his dream, Lincoln purportedly saw his own corpse lying in state in the East Room.
Sighting of Lincoln’s ghost, or sensing Lincoln’s presence, has been a common occurrence at the White House. Eleanor Roosevelt often said she felt Lincoln’s presence during the time she lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Her dog, Fala, sometimes barked for no reason, and Mrs. Roosevelt attributed Fala’s distress with the presence of Lincoln’s ghost. President Truman awoke to the sound of rapping at the door when he slept in the Lincoln bedroom and believed that Lincoln was the one who was trying to wake him. The press secretaries of President Eisenhower and Mrs. Johnson both felt Lincoln’s presence while working in the White House. Grace Coolidge, Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Maureen Reagan, and a number of White House employees claim to have actually seen Lincoln’s ghost. Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands fainted when she opened the door and saw Lincoln standing before her during her visit to the White House in 1942.!

There are reports of a number of other Presidents and First Ladies who may have posthumously visited the White House. They included a violin playing Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, as well as First Ladies Abigail Adams and Frances Cleveland. Mrs. Adams has been seen walking through the East Room. It was in that room where she routinely hung the family’s laundry out to dry. Talk about a woman’s work never being done…..

For more spooky tales about happenings in the White House, take a look at the White House Historical Association’s fascinating video: Ghosts and Hosts of the White House at Halloween at: http://www.whitehousehistory.org/whha_shows/holidays_halloween/index.html

The attached image is of President and Laura Bush’s cat, India, celebrating Halloween in 2007.
One of the wonderful things about our nation is the rich fabric of historical tales and incidents that can be woven into the discussion of holidays throughout the year….I hope that you and your family have the opportunity to enjoy a bit of merriment on Halloween. Be sure to tell the tale of Lincoln’s ghost visiting the White House. Historical tales and stories are a wonderful part of What Is Right With America!


Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.

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