A Dead President and a Naked Prime Minister- When Winston Met Abe

Yes...I have returned after a long period of inactivity.

We all love a ghost story. They are part of our cultural history. Whether we believe they are true or false, they are good old fashioned fun. Here is one of several that originate from the White House, the seat of executive power in the United States.

Shortly before Christmas 1941, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill arrived at the White House to discuss how to proceed with the war against the Axis Powers. Of course on December 7th , the United States had been plunged head long into war following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Churchill would spend nearly a month at the White House and stayed in the Lincoln Bedroom.

Churchill loved his baths. He would do much of his thinking and relaxing in a hot tub with a cigar and some brandy. One evening, after taking a long bath, he emerged naked into the bedroom proper to find he had company. There was a tall man in a dark Victorian suit leaning at against the fireplace mantle looking at him. Churchill immediately recognized it as the long dead Lincoln. Not startled, and in typical Churchill fashion, the prime minister flicked the ash off his cigar, and said "Good evening Mr. President. You seem to have me at a bit of a disadvantage." Apparently the apparition of Lincoln simply smiled at Churchill and vanished back into the ether.

True or not, the history meshes well with it. First of all Churchill told this story more than once, so it does originate with him. And while Churchill was a good story teller, his tales are often based in truth. He was known to walk around naked at the White House. Indeed the Chief Usher of the time remarked "We got used to his 'jumpsuit,' the extraordinary one-piece uniform he wore every day, but the servants never quite got over seeing him naked in his room when they'd go up to serve brandy. It was the jumpsuit or nothing. In his room, Mr. Churchill wore no clothes at all most of the time during the day."

And of course there is the history of the Lincoln Bedroom to consider. If a dead Lincoln was going to haunt anywhere in that building, it would be that room. It was not his bedchambers as the name suggests. You see in the time of Lincoln there was no West Wing or Oval Office. Those were added later by Teddy Roosevelt. In the 1860's the offices were located on the second floor of the White House and that particular room was used by Lincoln to conduct the war against the Confederacy. Lincoln spent the majority of his administration in that office.

Churchill is not the only person to report seeing Lincoln either. Earlier in the 1920's during the Coolidge administration, the First Lady herself reported seeing Lincoln looking out a window at the Potomac river towards the battlefields. In 1942, the Queen of the Netherlands heard noises outside her door (the Lincoln Bedroom), and when she opened the door to investigate she saw Lincoln and fainted. There are also less substantiated reports from people in the Teddy Roosevelt and Reagan administrations seeing Lincoln about the halls and rooms of the White House.


Who ya gonna call!?


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