United States and American History: 1865 Lincoln Dreams of Death

About the history of the United States in 1865, Abraham Lincoln dreams of his own death shortly before his assassination.


Apr. 11 Lincoln, Mrs. Lincoln, Col. Ward H. Lamon, a lawyer and presidential aide, and 2 other friends, were spending the evening in conversation, when Lincoln suddenly began to discuss his dreams. "I had one the other night which has haunted me ever since," he said. Mrs. Lincoln pressed him to repeat the dream. With an air of sadness, Lincoln began to recount it:

"About 10 days ago I retired very late. I had been up waiting for important dispatches from the front. I could not have been long in bed when I fell into a slumber, for I was weary. I soon began to dream. There seemed to be a deathlike stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence was broken by some pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I went from room to room; no living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds of distress met me as I passed along. It was light in all the rooms; every object was familiar to me; but where were all the people who were grieving as if their hearts would break? I was puzzled and alarmed. What could be the meaning of all this? Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, some gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. 'Who is dead in the White House?' I demanded of one of the soldiers. 'The President,' was his answer; 'he was killed by an assassin!' Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which awoke me from my dream. I slept no more that night; and although it was only a dream, I have been strangely annoyed by it ever since."

"That is horrid!" exclaimed Mrs. Lincoln. "I wish you had not told it. I'm glad I don't believe in dreams, or I should be in terror from this time forth."

"Well, it is only a dream, Mary. Let us say no more about it, and try to forget it."

Later that night, alone, Colonel Lamon wrote a record of the conversation.

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