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Assassination of Abraham Lincoln - WARNINGS AND OMENS

WARNINGS AND OMENS (Illustration) American Presidents Assassinations Biographies Film Government Nineteenth Century Life Social Studies American History

A trial lawyer before he was President, Abraham Lincoln won a famous case on May 7, 1858. Representing a defendant, William "Duff" Armstrong, Lincoln convinced the jury that a key witness was wrong by using an Almanac to prove his point. On that same day, a young photographer named Abraham Byers asked Lincoln to pose in his studio. This image depicts how Lincoln appeared on the day of his famous courtroom victory. All the strains and worries Lincoln would soon endure as President had not-yet taken their toll on his appearance.

 

It wasn't just letters from others that warned the President.

Shortly after his second election, Lincoln told Noah Brooks (a Civil War journalist and friend who was slated to become one of the President's private secretaries) about an incident which had frightened Mrs. Lincoln. In Recollections of Abraham Lincoln, reported in the July 1865 issue of Harper's New Monthly Magazine (at pages 224-225), Brooks retold the story using the President′s own words:

It was just after my election in 1860, when the news had been coming in thick and fast all day, and there had been a great "Hurrah, boys!" so that I was well tired out, and went home to rest, throwing myself down on a lounge in my chamber. Opposite where I lay was a bureau, with a swinging glass upon it...and, looking in that glass, I saw myself reflected, nearly at full length; but my face, I noticed, had two separate and distinct images, the tip of the nose of one being about three inches from the tip of the other.

I was a little bothered, perhaps startled, and got up and looked in the glass, but the illusion vanished. On lying down again, I saw it a second time - plainer, if possible, than before; and then I noticed that one of the faces was a little paler, say five shades, than the other. I got up and the thing melted away, and I went off and, in the excitement of the hour, forgot all about it - nearly, but not quite, for the thing would once in a while come up, and give me a little pang, as though something uncomfortable had happened.

When I went home I told my wife about it, and a few days after I tried the experiment again, when [with a laugh], sure enough, the thing came again; but I never succeeded in bringing the ghost back after that, though I once tried very industriously to show it to my wife, who was worried about it somewhat. She thought it was 'a sign' that I was to be elected to a second term of office, and that the paleness of one of the faces was an omen that I should not see life through the last term.

Some accounts record that it was the President himself - a man who loved Scottish songs like "Mary of Argyle," "Annie Laurie" and "Auld Robin Gray" - who saw the reflected "ghost" as an omen he would not survive his second term.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5123stories and lessons created

Original Release: Mar 01, 2002

Updated Last Revision: Jan 07, 2016


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