5 Paranormal Encounters Reported By American Presidents
We the People hope for at least a modicum of rationality from the folks we elect to the highest offices in the land. Yet if there's one thing that America's leaders have in common, it's their almost murderous narcissism. If they have two things in common, the second's gotta be their weird claims of experiences with the supernatural. Their tales range from the chilling to the ridiculous. We'll let you decide which are which.
Teddy Roosevelt Wrote About A Hunter Killed By Bigfoot
Theodore Roosevelt, the Batman of presidents, lived an exciting and varied life. He was an outdoorsman, rancher, hunter, naturalist, colonel, police commissioner, and vice president to William McKinley, who was assassinated, and even survived his own assassination attempt in 1912 (and proceeded to give a nearly 90-minute speech even as he bled freely from the wounds). So when Teddy Motherfucking Roosevelt tells a story about a Bigfoot attack, you sit up and listen. It won't be true, but it will be badass.
In Roosevelt's 1893 book The Wilderness Hunter, he relates the story of a gnarled mountain of German extract referred to simply as Bauman, who ventured out with a hunting partner to trap beaver in a pass near the Wisdom River in Montana. Fun little side note: A man had been torn apart there just a year before. Putting more stock in inspecting quality beav than the death of a random mountain man, they made camp in the valley and proceeded to look for game.
When they came back to their camp, it had been torn up like a rock star's hotel suite. While Bauman salvaged dinner, his partner took a burning brand and went into the woods to follow the tracks. He told Bauman that if it was a bear, it walked exclusively upright. That night, the pair of Hendersons were visited by their very own very violent Harry, only scaring off the creature after Bauman fired wildly into the dark. But it returned and continued to stalk them, destroying their camp again the next day.
When Bauman went out again to check their beaver traps, he returned to find their camp destroyed for a third and final time. It was under the wreckage that he found his partner, neck broken, four fang marks across his throat. Those upright tracks were everywhere, and the body looked as if it had been played with and rolled in the dirt. Bauman apparently hauled ass out of there after that, as he was still alive to tell the tale to Roosevelt. As for whether or not Roosevelt set out to take vengeance on the Sasquatch, history does not record. (But yes, of course he did.)
Everybody Believes The White House Is Haunted
The wacky horseshit the Reagans believed ranged from Ronnie's obsession with early 20th-century mystic Manly P. Hall to Nancy's use of astrologers to trickle-down economics. So it makes perfect sense that they'd buy into the ghost stories of the White House, as Ronnie was so fond of retelling. But they weren't alone in this conviction.
William Howard Taft, a man most famous for the false anecdote about getting stuck in a White House bathtub, also reported that the building was terrorized by The Thing, an invisible child-sized ghost who went around grabbing the maids and goosing the butlers. The situation got so bad that Taft put a military aide, Archibald Butt, on the trail. Butt did his best, but he couldn't crack the case.
Later, Harry Truman said he knew the White House was just chock full of ghosts, often writing about it in his letters to his wife Bess. In one, claimed to have seen the drapes blowing about in the Oval Office and imagining Theodore Roosevelt and Andrew Jackson arguing over there. Another time he heard three knocks at his bedroom door (if it'd been on the ceiling, he'd have known Tony Orlando and Dawn wanted him) and investigated it, going so far as to ask the Secret Service about it. They informed him that nobody had been up in the living area at the time -- presumably as thunder rumbled and spooky theremin music played.
Then Truman was informed that all the ghostly noises he'd been hearing in the White House over the years were in fact the sound of shoddy construction falling apart around his ears. The Trumans spent three years of his second term living nearby while the building was renovated.
Everybody's Seen Lincoln's Ghost ... Including Lincoln
Of all the ghosts that haunt the White House, the most famous has got to be that of Abraham "Would you even be mad if I haunted your house?" Lincoln. Honest Abe is apparently a rather sedentary ghost, as Grace Coolidge, reportedly the first person to see him, discovered. The wife of Calvin Coolidge said that she saw Lincoln simply looking out the window of what had been his office.
He was also seen putting on his boots by Mary Eben who caught him during her employment under Eleanor Roosevelt. Winston Churchill, staying over during World War II, got out of the bath and plodded across the room naked, jiggling and wet like a de-shelled Zoidberg, when he spied Lincoln sitting in a chair by his fireplace. "Good evening, Mr. President," Churchill is reputed to have said around his customary cigar, "I'm afraid you have me at a disadvantage."
But the oddest person to have seen Lincoln's ghost has to be Lincoln himself. There have long been stories surrounding Lincoln's death, and one apocryphal example is that Lincoln supposedly dreamed of a president dying shortly before his own assassination. In the dream, Lincoln is reported to have seen soldiers gathered around a casket, and when he asked who died, they answered, "The president. He was killed by an assassin."
Stranger, though, was a vision Lincoln shared with his wife Mary Todd, another seance enthusiast, about seeing overlapping reflections of himself in a single mirror on the day he won his first election (or the day of his nomination, per his secretary). Having laid down on a chaise, Lincoln caught the image of himself and his doppelganger in the swinging mirror on their bureau. When he got up the image went away, and when he lay down it came back, clearer and paler than before. He saw the gangly ghoul one more time, but afterwards couldn't get the double reflection to happen again, even when trying to show Mary. She took it as a sign he'd be elected twice and killed while in office.
The Hardings Were Really Into Astrology
Florence Harding didn't start her day unless she'd first read her horoscope. She was a bit of a nut on the subject of the occult. As World War I ground to a halt and spiritualism struck a chord in American life once more, it was the perfect time to take the show on the road. Enter Madame Marcia Champrey, bullshitress to the D.C. elite, whom Florence came to rely on for everything. She predicted that Florence's husband, Warren, would have many affairs. Considering the Hardings were at the time being blackmailed for $25,000 -- over $320,000 today -- by a mistress of Harding's, Madame Marcia was one for one. Her more interesting prediction, as Florence recorded in her diary, was that Harding would win the presidency, but die early from poisoning.
Florence pushed for her husband to get the Republican nomination to secure the money to pay off the blackmail (the only confirmed and acknowledged successful blackmail of a political party, for the record), and when he won, Florence made it no secret that she consulted with Madame Marcia, who regularly came to the White House to fart around with her zodiac. Considering the Harding administration's massive scandals -- the Teapot Dome affair involved oil men and bribery, and ended in the jailing of a cabinet member and the later resignation of the attorney general -- Madame Marcia doesn't seem to have been that helpful. As far as her prediction about Harding's death, it came to pass ... if you squint and grant her a shitload of leeway. Harding died of a heart attack brought on by poisoning, which a 1930 book claimed came from a jealous Florence, but was actually due to food poisoning from eating tainted crab on an Alaskan tour.
An interesting coda came in 1926, when Harry Houdini and his assistant, Rose Mackenberg, testified behalf of a bill that would have banned fortune tellers -- like Madame Marcia -- in the D.C. area. They credibly accused four senators and Calvin Coolidge himself of using fortune tellers. Coolidge, Harding's former veep, who was desperately trying to distance himself from the scandals of his predecessor, denied this vehemently. At the hearing, Madame Marcia made another death prediction for Houdini himself, that he'd be gone by November. Oddly, he was dead by Halloween of that year. It wouldn't be until Nancy Reagan that anyone'd be so open about using psychics again.
A Shapeshifting Demon Cat Has Long Haunted Washington, D.C.
There are stories going back to the mid-1800s of a demonic cat that stalks between the Capitol building and the White House, terrifying staff members and politicians. And since living cats are already total assholes, that seems exactly like something a demon cat would do. The cat is reputed to "live" in the crypt under the Capitol building, and is apparently seen before administration changes and national tragedies, such as the Lincoln and Kennedy assassinations or the stock market crash of 1929. (For some reason, it was first reported around the time of John Quincy Adams' death.)
The cat, dismissed these days as the stories of drunk Capitol Hill security guards, nevertheless has a fairly detailed backstory. It's assumed to be the ghostly remnant of one of the cats used to catch the hordes of rats that were around when the building was first built and D.C. was a nasty, oozing swamp in more than the metaphorical sense. The creature is reported to grow to the size of a tiger, and to have once caused a guard to have a heart attack as it leapt at him and vanished right before landing. One guard even claimed to have shot at it, only for the bullets to pass right through. So these drunken, ghost-believing security guards were wildly firing their guns ... in the Capitol building ... trying and failing to hit shapeshifting demon cats. Seems about right for D.C.
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