There have been several stories about ghosts of former Presidents revisiting the White House.
However, the most common and popular is that of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln's Ghost, otherwise
known as The White House Ghost, is said to have haunted the White House since his death.
Eleanor Roosevelt never admitted to having seen Lincoln's ghost, but did say that she felt his
presence repeatedly throughout the White House. Mrs. Roosevelt also said that the family dog, Fala,
would sometimes bark for no reason at what she felt was Lincoln's ghost. President Dwight
Eisenhower's press secretary, James Hagerty, and Liz Carpenter, press secretary to First Lady Lady
Bird Johnson, both said they felt Lincoln's presence many times.
The former president's footsteps are also said to be heard in the hall outside the Lincoln Bedroom.
Lillian Rogers Parks admitted in her 1961 autobiography My Thirty Years Backstairs at the White
House that she had heard them. Margaret Truman, daughter of President Harry S. Truman, said she
heard a specter rapping at the door of the Lincoln Bedroom when she stayed there, and believed it
was Lincoln. President Truman himself was once wakened by raps at the door while spending a
night in the Lincoln Bedroom.
Several unnamed eyewitnesses have claimed to have seen the shade of Abraham Lincoln actually
lying down on the bed in the Lincoln Bedroom (which was used as a meeting room at the time of his
administration), and while others have seen Lincoln sit on the edge of the bed and put his boots on.
The most famous eyewitness to the latter was Mary Eben, Eleanor Roosevelt's secretary, who saw
Lincoln pulling on his boots (after which she ran screaming from the room).
Others have actually seen an apparition of the former president. The first person reported to have
actually seen Lincoln's spirit was First Lady Grace Coolidge, who said she saw the ghost of Lincoln
standing at a window in the Yellow Oval Room staring out at the Potomac. Theodore Roosevelt and
Maureen Reagan and her husband have all claimed to have seen a spectral Lincoln in the White
House. A number of staff members of the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration claimed to have seen
Lincoln's spirit, and on one occasion Roosevelt's personal valet ran screaming from the White
House claiming he had seen Lincoln's ghost. Perhaps the most famous incident was in 1942 when
Wilhelmina of the Netherlands heard footsteps outside her White House bedroom and answered a
knock on the door, only to see Lincoln in frock coat and top hat standing in front of her (she
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill loved to retire late, take a long, hot bath while drinking a
Scotch, and smoke a cigar and relax. On this occasion, he climbed out of the bath and naked, but for
his cigar, walked into the adjoining bedroom. He was startled to see Lincoln standing by the
fireplace in the room, leaning on the mantle. Churchill, always quick on the uptake, simply took his
cigar out of his mouth, tapped the ash off the end of his cigar and said "Good evening, Mr.
President. You seem to have me at a disadvantage." Lincoln smiled softly, as if laughing and
disappeared. Churchill smiled in embarrassment.
Lincoln's ghost was reportedly seen outside of the White House as well. In Loudonville, New York,
Lincoln's ghost was said to haunt a house that was owned by a woman who was present at Ford's
Theatre when Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth. Other Lincoln hauntings included his grave
in Springfield, Illinois, a portrait of Mary Todd Lincoln and a phantom train on nights in April
along the same path his funeral train followed from Washington, D.C. to Springfield.
The last sighting of Lincoln's ghost was in the early 1980s, when Tony Savoy, White House
operations foreman, came into the White House and saw Lincoln sitting in a chair at the top of some
Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, but some have said that his spirit has lingered on—and not
just figuratively, either. Over the years, there have been multiple purported sightings of his ghost—at the
White House and Ford’s Theatre where he was assassinated, at Fort Monroe in Virginia, and at his tomb
in Springfield, Ill.
President Harry Truman, reveled in the idea that Lincoln might still be dwelling in the White House. As
Presidential daughter Margaret Truman Daniel once wrote, her father told her that when he heard
noises in the White House, he imagined that another President—perhaps Andrew Jackson—was roaming
the halls. “I’m sure they’re here,” President Truman supposedly explained. “...I won’t lock my doors or
bar them if any of the old coots in the pictures want to come out of their frames for a friendly chat.
When Lillian Rogers Parks, the seamstress, once investigated the sound of someone pacing an upper
level of the White House, another staff member told her the room in question had been unoccupied,
and “that was old Abe pacing the floor.” Psychics have speculated that Lincoln’s spirit remains in the
White House to be on hand in times of crisis, as well as to complete the difficult work that his untimely
death left unfinished.