Ghostly Residents in the White House
First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln believed strongly in the occult, and reportedly held séances in the White House to commune with spirits. On many occasions she told friends she had heard Andrew Jackson stomping around and swearing. The Rose Room, Jackson's bedchamber, is said to be one of the most haunted rooms in the White House.
Lincoln, who is believed to have attended two of his wifes' séances, actually foresaw his own death more than once in dreams he had shortly before he was killed.
Perhaps, the White House may be the nation’s most famous haunted house. Several other ghosts of famous people have also been seen by credible witnesses.
At the time President Adams and his wife, Abigail, resided in the White House she had a problem finding a place to hang their laundry. The building had not been fully completed and was not adequately heated. The warmest and driest place in the White House was the East Room. Therefore, that’s where she hung her clothes line.
Reports of Abigail Adams seen hurrying towards the East Room with her arms outstretched as if carrying a load of laundry continue circulating today. She is thought to be the oldest ghost on the property.
When the second Mrs. Woodrow Wilson moved into the White House, she had gardeners dig up the rose garden Dolley Madison had planted during her stay. The gardeners fled for their lives when Dolley's ghost appeared to stop them. Dolley's garden flourishes to this day.
Abraham Lincoln seems to be the ghostly apparition most commonly encountered. When President Lincoln was yet living he told a friend he dreamt of his own death. He dreamt of hearing people mourning, going to the East Room and seeing a casket. He asked a guard who had died. The guard replied, "The President. He was killed by an assassin."
Grace Coolidge, wife of Calvin Coolidge, was the first to report seeing Lincoln's ghost. She said he was standing at a window in the Oval Office, hands clasped behind his back, staring deep in thought out over the Potomac River.
Cesar Carrera, valet to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, reported hearing someone calling his name in the Yellow Oval Room, but no one was there. And Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, while visiting the White House, claims someone knocked on her bedroom door in the middle of the night. When she opened it, Lincoln stood before her…top hat and all. She immediately fainted.
Mrs. Roosevelt's secretary, Mary Eben, also reported seeing Lincoln sitting on his bed in the Lincoln bedroom putting on his boots. Many other workers also say they saw him lying on his bed.
Presidents, first ladies, staff members and guests have all reported feeling ghostly presences, hearing unexplained noises or even seeing actual apparitions.
During the Truman years a guard heard a voice say, "I'm Mr. Burns." Burns was the man who sold the government most of the property on which the city of Washington stands, including the White House.
Lillian Rogers Parks, a seamstress who chronicled her 30-year career working at the White House in a 1961 memoir, told the valet story to President Roosevelt.
Andrew Jackson's ghost showed up in White House correspondence of President Harry S. Truman. In June 1945, he wrote to his wife Bess of how spooky his new residence was: "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."
“Lady Bird” Johnson, wife of President Lyndon Johnson, testified she felt Lincoln's presence one night while watching a television program about his death.
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt often used the Lincoln Bedroom as her study and said she would feel his presence while working late into the night. She also said she once heard someone pacing on an upper level of the White House. When she investigated a staff member told her the room in question was not occupied and "that was old Abe pacing the floor."
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who visited the White House more than once told a story of emerging from his evening bath and saw Lincoln’s apparition sitting by the fireplace in his room.
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