April 14th, 1865 was a tragic day in American history. The life of President Abraham Lincoln was ended by Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth as part of a larger movement to revive the Confederate cause. While Lincoln had made a lot of positive changes during his time in the White House, not everyone shared the same beliefs as him. Therefore, as he gained supporters, he gained many enemies as well.
As with most assassinations, nobody saw it coming and it happened at an opportune moment when the president had his guard down. But is it possible that Abraham Lincoln did, in fact, know that he would be assassinated? A select few people in Lincoln’s inner circle claim to have been there when he recounted a dream in which he saw his own corpse and learned that he had been killed by assassins.
One of these people was his close friend and occasional bodyguard, Ward Hill Lamon. According to Lamon, he had been with Lincoln when he spoke about his dream for the first time. While many respected authors have quoted Ward Hill Lamon’s account as fact, there are still skeptics who point out the inconsistencies in his account. For example, Lamon states that Abraham Lincoln’s dream occurred just a few days before his death, but when he recounts the story he reports Lincoln saying that he had the dream “about 10 days ago”. It seems likely that Lincoln’s dream occurred around two weeks before his death and that he spoke of it just days before.
In Lamon’s account, Lincoln began by speaking about the Bible and the significance of dreams within it. He stated that if a person claims to believe what is written in the Bible then they must also believe that it’s possible for God and his angels appear to people through dreams. When his wife asked him if he himself believed in the significance of dreams, he admitted that he didn’t but that this particular dream had been haunting him since the night it happened.
As he dozed off, he felt a feeling of “death like stillness” and heard sounds of sobbing and grieving in the distance. He arose from his bed to find out where the sounds were coming from, but as he wandered through the White House he couldn’t see anyone. Finally, as he approached the East Room, he heard people inside.
When he opened the door, he was shocked to see a corpse covered in a white cloth. “Who died in the White House!?” he exclaimed. The soldiers surrounding the body were silent, but he heard a guard say that it was the President and that he had been assassinated. The sounds of mourning surrounding him grew louder, causing him to awake from his dream.
According to the account, Lincoln’s dream was so vivid that he didn’t sleep for the rest of the night. While the dream affected him, it appears that he soon waved it off as simply a dream and went about his daily life.
On the fateful morning of April 14th, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln began his day by inviting his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, on a carriage ride through Washington D.C. They spoke optimistically about their plans and what was to come, welcoming the future just as spring was welcoming new life all around.
In the afternoon, they attended a comedy theater performance, Our American Cousin, at Ford’s Theater. The play took a momentary pause and the audience welcomed the President with applause as he and the First Lady arrived late. While enjoying the performance, John Wilkes Booth quietly made his way up to the President’s seat and ended the life of Abraham Lincoln with a single bullet.
Could Abraham Lincoln’s premonition be true, or was it merely a coincidence? Could he really have dreamt of his own death before it happened? Either way, it causes one to wonder about the true significance of our dreams.