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IS THE WHITE HOUSE HAUNTED?

Harry Houdini Converses With The Ghost Of Abraham Lincoln

Harry Houdini Converses With The Ghost Of Abraham Lincoln In This Photo From The 1920s

Are There Ghosts In The White House?

The ghost of Abraham Lincoln haunts the bedrooms and hallways of the White House. And many reports of Lincoln’s ghost come to us not from a bunch of crackpots who have never set foot in the place, but from otherwise credible sources that include at least two other presidents, a first lady, and a member of European royalty.

In 1942, Queen Wilhemina of the Netherlands reported that one night while she was sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom as a guest of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, she was awakened by a knock at the door. When she opened the door, she was startled to the point of fainting by the sight of Lincoln standing before her in a frock coat.

Roosevelt himself told people that he sensed Lincoln’s spirit in the White House, and so did his cousin, President Theodore Roosevelt. First Lady Grace Coolidge, who lived in the White House from 1923 to 1929, said she she once saw Lincoln standing at a window and looking out at the Potomac River. President Ronald Reagan’s daughter, Maureen Reagan, also reported sighting a “figure” that may have been Lincoln’s. President Harry Truman reported getting up at night on several occasions in order to answer mysterious knocks on his bedroom door—though he never caught anyone, including Lincoln’s ghost, in the act.

Winston Churchill also may have seen Lincoln’s ghost—supposedly after the Prime Minister had just stepped out of the bathtub. But then again, Churchill may have been joking.

In addition, over the decades numerous other White House visitors and staffers have told others about sightings of, or interactions with, the ghost of Abraham Lincoln.

It is interesting to note that both Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, were themselves interested in the idea of earthbound spirits. Mrs. Lincoln was known to hold White House seances following the death—in the White House—of the Lincolns’ young son, Willie. In fact, Willie’s ghost was supposedly spotted by several members from the household staff of President Ulysses S. Grant.

Yet another ghost allegedly spotted in the White House—though not recently—is that of the ninth American president, William Henry Harrison, who died a month after his inauguration.

Concerning the above photo of Houdini and Lincoln: In addition to being a world-famous early 20th century magician and escape artist, Harry Houdini was also a dedicated debunker of the paranormal who took great pains to expose supernatural scams and hoaxes including phony mediums and clairvoyants. One widespread bit of humbuggery he attacked was that of “spirit photography,” which often involved the practice of “sandwiching” photographic negatives or intentionally double-exposing film in order to create an image the photographer could claim was that of a ghost. These images frequently consisted of a living person with a “ghost”—the image of someone who had died—hovering nearby.

Sometime during the 1920s, Houdini commissioned this “spirit photo” of himself and President Lincoln in order to demonstrate how easily such photos could be faked.

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