Lincoln In a Glass Darkly

 Mirror Mirror

There is rather good historical evidence that Abraham Lincoln had premonitions of his death.  John Hay, one of Lincoln’s two personal secretaries, wrote about one such premonition in the July 1865 issue of Harper’s Magazine, as related to him by Lincoln which occurred the morning after his election in 1860:

Looking in that glass, I saw myself reflected, nearly at full length; but my face, I noticed, had two separate and distinct images, the tip of the nose of one being about three inches from the tip of the other. I was a little bothered, perhaps startled, and got up and looked in the glass, but the illusion vanished.

On lying down again, I saw it a second time — plainer, if possible, than before; and then I noticed that one of the faces was a little paler, say five shades, than the other. I got up and the thing melted away, and I went off and, in the excitement of the hour, forgot all about it — nearly, but not quite, for the thing would once in a while come up, and give me a little pang, as though something uncomfortable had happened.

When Lincoln told his wife Mary of the vision, her reaction was prescient: “She thought it was ‘a sign,'” Lincoln said, “that I was to be elected to a second term of office, and that the paleness of one of the faces was an omen that I should not see life through the last term.”

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6 Comments

  1. Donald McClarey: “When Lincoln told his wife Mary of the vision, her reaction was prescient: “She thought it was ‘a sign,’” Lincoln said, “that I was to be elected to a second term of office, and that the paleness of one of the faces was an omen that I should not see life through the last term.””
    .
    I do appreciate that Abraham Lincoln had a confidant in his wife, Mary. Mary Lincoln sympathized with Abraham’s vision. Visions are a gift from God.

  2. I wonder what is God’s purpose in allowing people the premonitions that some have. I wonder if there is any evidence that concern for an omen indicating his possible death in his second term precipitated any change in his policies, behaviors or public statements?

  3. Only one I can think of. When he was urged to abandon emancipation to try to make peace with the Confederacy Lincoln responded that he would be damned in time and eternity if he did that. I suspect that Lincoln believed that he would probably die before he ceased to be President and what his eternal destination would be was on his mind.

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