|Now, although technically
this is an expansion of a previous column, it is mostly
new. I enjoyed returning to the spectral side of Lincoln's era,
expanding and adding a bit of color to the proceedings.
You stand by the side of
the lonely tracks, hopping up and down to stave off the bitter
chill of this dark and lonely night. The wind howls, and in
this desolate place that is the only sound you hear. The night
seems unnaturally dark, and of course the fact that it is a New
Moon doesn't help the situation any. The tracks stretch on into
infinity before you and behind you, and it seems impossible that
any train ever passes this way. It seems impossible that any
living thing ever passes this way.
You are alone, somewhere
to the West of Washington D.C. and to the East of Illinois, standing
beside a lonely railroad track in the dead of a late April night.
You realize that the chills you are experiencing are not entirely
due to the unseasonable arctic winds, and then, all at once,
something has changed.
The winds have stopped. All is silence now. It is not a particularly
You peer eastward, gazing down the long tracks (insofar as you
can make them out), and you wonder if -
Yes! Something is out there - a shape, darker still than the
night, growing rapidly as it winds its way down the tracks toward
And makes no sound.
You back away in spite of yourself, fight the urge to run, and
as you stand there it comes into clearer view. It is a train,
a very old train, black streamers trailing from it as it glides
past in horrible silence. It pulls a single open car, and in
that car . . .
I trust you'll forgive that little teaser, but I must
have my fun, after all . . .
After all, it is April, and we're approaching a Good Friday
that falls right in the middle of the month, and I thought it
might be appropriate to think back to a previous Good Friday,
some 136 years ago, when Good Friday fell on the 14th of April,
and a fellow we all know went to see the wrong play.
Truth be told, there are several columns we could do on this
guy. One or two could be devoted to his anecdotes alone, and
then of course -
But I digress. We've met him briefly back in the Tecumseh's
Curse column, and it seemed high time to bring him back, to take
a look at his darker side, perhaps.
Heh heh heh . . .
Therefore, Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you:
Moments With Mr. Lincoln
Now, the tragedies of his life
and death are fairly well known, as are the circumstances he
was plunged into upon winning the presidency that drove him to
remake the Nation, earning the "Great Emancipator"
title along the way. Rather than dwell on any of that, let us
instead delve into a little known honor held by the man.
For Abraham Lincoln remains the foremost link between the White
House and . . . the Spirit World.
Lincoln was fascinated by Spiritualism his whole life, and remained
a steadfast believer in the supernatural to his dying day. As
early as 1840, a full twenty years before his election, he was
attending meetings held by noted spiritualists of the day. One
such paranormal mentor was Peter Akers, who on one such meeting
predicted the freeing of the slaves "between 1860 and 1870",
going further to say that "the man who will lead us through
that turmoil may be here among us."
Lincoln, as you've probably guessed, was indeed in attendance.
He was, however, at that time only a beginning Law Clerk, his
political days ahead of him and probably not yet contemplated.
Hardly presidential material.
His wife Mary was also an avid
fan of Spiritualism (it should be noted here that Spiritualism
had only really gotten going around the mid 1850's, and was thus
something of a current fad), and this may actually have helped
bring them together in the first place. In any case, Lincoln's
ascension to the Presidency was quickly followed by a steady
stream of mediums flocking to the White House, and a seemingly
endless number of seances.
A year after he took office, his eleven year old son Willie died,
an event which certainly weighed as heavy on his mind as the
darkest tidings from the Civil War. The Lincolns consulted many
mediums in an effort to reestablish contact with their beloved
son. Apparently, one of these mediums actually caused a piano
to levitate inside the White House.
Lincoln seems to have possessed a degree of psychic power on
his own, as there are on record many accounts of warnings he
personally made to the front lines of the Union Army - warnings
that saved said army from a great many casualties. These warnings,
as it turns out, were based entirely on visions he'd had while
Dreams and premonitions . . . from the time of his nomination
Abraham Lincoln had had vague premonitions of doom, and an inescapable
feeling that his life work was destined to remain unfinished.
One night, as he sat with friends, he decided to share with them
a nightmare he had just endured the night before. In his dream
he was asleep, and then suddenly awakened by the sound of a multitude
of people sobbing, followed by a deathly silence. He arose and
wandered downstairs, and the sobbing began anew. It was the
sound of a great many people in obvious mourning - yet not a
soul could be seen.
From room to room he walked, and each room was brightly lit -
yet each was empty, and still the voices continued. At length
he arrived in the East Room, where he saw a shrouded form guarded
"Who is dead in the White House?" he asked. The answer
was, "The President - he was killed by an assassin."
This was punctuated by a loud burst of grief from the crowd,
at which point Lincoln awoke.
Ten days later, on Good Friday, he was assassinated. His body
subsequently would be taken to the East Room, where it would
lay in state . . .
Lincoln's remains were eventually
taken by a special funeral train to Springfield, Illinois, and
it was soon after that a phenomenon began to be reported - a
phenomenon which was reported so often that it found its way
into several major newspapers of the time.
It seems that, during the month of April, on certain nights around
midnight, the air would become very still, and a silent train
trailing black streamers and carrying a single coffin would glide
in spectral majesty through the night.
Another widely reported phenomenon was that, all along the original
train route from D.C. to Illinois, around April 27, watches and
clocks were found to be a bit behind the actual time.
The first person of note to
actually admit seeing Lincoln's ghost in the White House was
none other than Teddy Roosevelt. His claim was given weight
by subsequent reports of sightings from Eleanor Roosevelt, Winston
Churchill, Harry Truman, and Jackie Kennedy - who reportedly
felt the late President's presence just before accompanying her
husband on a trip to Dallas, late in 1963 . . .
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