Iwalked Washington D.C.’s White House (Haunted Tales) – In our official White House blog tour we discussed some of the most important tenants of the White House including past Presidents and their spouses, but some of these “past” occupants are still rumored to be “current” tenants. Ironically despite having a reputation as being one of the most haunted locales within all of Washington, only two past Presidents have actually died within the building. The first was William Henry Harrison, the ninth President of the United States, who holds the distinction of both having delivered the longest inaugural speech ever (whilst in the freezing rain mind you), and also maintaining the shortest presidential term at only thirty days. Ironically the two records are related as he died after contracting pneumonia while delivering his prolonged speech. The other president to pass away in the White House was Zachary Taylor, the twelfth President of the United States, who also died under somewhat odd circumstances. Taylor it seems caught stomach flu after eating an abundance of cherries and cold milk. He became ill from his over-indulgence and passed away five days later.
Perhaps the most commonly cited haunted incidents regarding the White House revolve around the ghost of former President Abraham Lincoln. One famous story regarding Lincoln’s ghost involved a visit to the White House by the former Queen of the Netherlands, Wilhelmina Helena Pauline Maria. During her stay she heard a knock at her door and when she went to answer it, she found none other than the former President standing outside. Completely taken off guard, she ended up passing out from the incident. Ironically, it was Lincoln himself who foresaw his own death. He recalled to reporters on one occasion how he dreamed walking through the White House during what appeared to be a somber occasion. He found the source of despair when he noted a coffin lying in state.
He asked someone who was lying in the coffin and they informed him that it was the President. When Lincoln approached the coffin he was surprised to see his own face looking back up at him within. One President publicly declared a desire to see Mr. Lincoln but professed he has not. Ronald Reagan was commented on the topic as saying, “I don’t have any fear at all. I think it would be wonderful to have a little meeting with him and very probably helpful.”
Two other famous ghosts said to roam the halls of the White House include two noted First Ladies. The first is the former wife of second President John Adams, Abigail, who is said to continue about her chores in the East Room. While the White House was still under construction during her husband’s term of office she often hung her laundry in this room and is said to be seen to continue to do so on occasion. The second ghostly guest apparently splits time with her former home (the Cutts-Madison House) where she is also claimed to haunt. It is rumored that Dolley Madison’s apparition has made an appearance on occasions when her former rose garden is unkempt.