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Lincoln's prophetic dream

  1. Oct 2, 2006 #1
    Abe Lincoln's Premonition of his own Death
    "About ten 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 death-like 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 the same 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. I saw 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 so 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, 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 woke 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."
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 2, 2006 #2
    What is needed to be debunked?
  4. Oct 4, 2006 #3
    If we accept the story as authentic, then my reaction is: by what mechanism or unknown state of things can a person so accurately and specifically acquire information about the future? What does this say about the very nature of time? Does this mean the future already exists, and remains in place, accessible for examination by anyone with the right tools? Or is the future not actually physically in existence yet but a none-the-less inevitable extension, of what's come before, (and which, therefore, could be accurately forecast by a sensitive enough "computer" [in this case: the human mind]?)
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2006
  5. Oct 4, 2006 #4
    When did he have this dream? He says "10 days ago" but it could have been years before his death, right? There is no time relation.

    As for what he predicts, all I can see is the assassination. As for everything else, it seems that someone who is the president would probably be familiar with how their own funeral would go and who would be sad. Even the assassination is probably the #1 fear of death of a president, especially with everything that happened during his time in office.

    Seems very coincidental to me.

    I've had dreams about dying in a car crash, probably because that is one of the most likely ways to die, especially since I road race (tracks, not streets) as well. If I happen to die in a car crash, I hope noone I told of that dream thinks of it as a prophecy but moreso a coincidence.

    Now if Lincoln had dreamt of the theatre or how he was killed that might be more significant.

    As for the quote, do you have your source?
  6. Oct 4, 2006 #5

    Ivan Seeking

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  7. Oct 4, 2006 #6

    Ivan Seeking

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    an interesting note"

  8. Oct 4, 2006 #7


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    It is not surprising that Lincoln had such a dream, because secessionists would have loved to kill him and throw the North into uproar. I imagine that Castro has at times dreamed that agents of the US would try to assassinate him. That's not paranoia, just rational rumination on self-preservation.
  9. Oct 4, 2006 #8


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    I believe the statement is authentic, and even if it is accurate (but not specific enough to be useful as evidence that it is actually a premonition), that does not automatically mean it is a premonition. People dream a lot. It is impossible to show that it is anything more than a coincidence.
  10. Oct 4, 2006 #9


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    And after all, the account of the dream rests on the unsupported word of Ward Laymon. Not to say it's false, but you can't leave that fact out of your consideration.
  11. Oct 4, 2006 #10
    My point was the OP hasn't placed any claim that needs to be debunked. Sure it is interesting but noone has claimed he was a seer. etc.
  12. Oct 4, 2006 #11
    If we go about explaining the dream from this angle, then it's more complex than straightforward fear of assassination. Rather, it's repressed fear of assassination.

    Notice how Lincoln dismissed the dream: "Hill," said he, "your apprehension of harm to me from some hidden enemy is downright foolishness. For a long time you have been trying to keep somebody-the Lord knows who-from killing me. Don't you see how it will turn out? In this dream it was not me, but some other fellow, that was killed. It seems that this ghostly assassin tried his hand on some one else." (Lamon 1895, 116-117). ..." as quoted by Ivan above.

    The picture this creates is of Lincoln surviving, psychologically, by going into denial about the dangers of being attacked. He was pushing any fears that he was personally at risk out of his consciousness. Despite the explicit mention in the dream of "the president" as the victim who was lying in state, Lincoln, in his waking state, insists this was "some other fellow."

    The denial mechanism is pretty crude and goes something like this "It's not me Abraham Lincoln, person, they're after, but some non-existant icon called "The President". I, Abraham Lincoln, therefore, am not at risk."

    Lamont Hill, and, we might suppose, alot of other people around Lincoln, were much more openly afraid for his safety:

    "Lamon was a physically imposing man, and often guarded Lincoln. He accompanied Lincoln when the President-elect snuck to Washington on a midnight train ride through Baltimore. Lamon later supervised security at the White House and was aware of many death threats against the President. He often slept on the floor outside Lincoln's bedroom door, wrapped in a blanket and armed to the teeth."

    -from the Wiki article on Hill linked to by Ivan.

    So, the dream is profoundly disturbing to Lincoln because it is saying something to the effect: "Everyone around you in the White House is convinced someone's going to make good on one of these death threats. They're already in mourning over you."

    Probably not. Kennedy, Reagan, The Pope who was shot, all might have had a dream similar to Lincoln's because they all, like him, wanted to be free of fear and accessible to the public, and might have repressed their fears, only to have them pop out later in a dream image. Castro, Hitler, Stalin, Saddam etc. all consciously and squarely faced the fact people were/are out to get them, and they live/d their waking lives in conscious, deliberate hiding. If we want to tackle Lincoln's dream as a non-prophetic, normal, dream reaction to his actual life situation then we have to suppose he wouldn't let himself consciously entertain fears of assassination. That's not a stretch at all. From the Hill account Lincoln's denial sticks out like a sore thumb.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2006
  13. Oct 5, 2006 #12
    Yup. See my revised ruminations about this dream in my reply to Turbo-1. Where's the mystery when a president who recieves routine death threats and who is surrounded by people concerned for his safety, dreams about being assassinated? If someone among the many who want him dead succeeds in killing him a short while after he has such a dream, do we really have to look beyond coincidence?
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