Places like Mount Vernon, Monticello, and even the White House keep history alive. But the next time you feel a definite presence while visiting a historic Presidential site, consider that it might not be your imagination. You might actually be meeting the ghost of one of America's great heads of state. Whether or not you believe in ghosts, it's pretty reassuring to think that some of our greatest Presidents are still around, hopefully guiding the country's future in the right direction. Here are some Presidential sites where you might encounter the ghost of one of our former Commanders in Chief!
Did you know that the White House is a hotbed of spiritual freakiness? Well, besides the fact that freaky stuff obviously happens at the White House, it's also certifiably haunted. The ghost of Abigail Adams can be spotted carrying laundry to the East Room, where she would dry clothes. Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of Abraham Lincoln, apparently overheard Andrew Jackson's ghost stomping about and swearing during one of the many seances she held while she lived there; Abraham Lincoln reportedly attended two of her seances and foresaw his own death several times. David Burns, the man who sold the land for the White House to the government, has been overheard making his presence known as well.
Lincoln's ghost is the one most commonly sighted. Tons of First Ladies, from Grace Coolidge to Lady Bird Johnson to Eleanor Roosevelt, have reported feeling his presence, especially around the Lincoln Bedroom. Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands once reported hearing a knock on a door when she was staying at the White House; she opened it, saw the ghost of Lincoln top hat and all, and fainted dead away. Even Winston Churchill claims to have met Honest Abe... he claims he emerged from a bath, butt naked and smoking a cigar, only to find Lincoln sitting by the fireplace. It's definitely comforting to think that Abe Lincoln is still around the White House, especially during times of trouble!
The Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum complex is located at the site of Nixon's boyhood home and it's where he is buried, so there's a lot of history and significance tied up in the location. It's no wonder that many suspect that Nixon haunts the property. Some guards have reported a hazy green mist around his headstone, or dark figures appearing to enter the locked front door of the boyhood home. Visitors also report seeing things move out of the corners of their eyes, cold drafts, weird smells and buzzing noises, feelings of uneasiness near the grave, or even the sensation of clammy hands grabbing at them. Richard Nixon's wife Pat is also buried on the property, and has been known to visit from the afterlife as well; she reportedly likes the rose garden near her grave.
The Harding Home, a former residence of Warren G. Harding, has experienced some pretty creepy paranormal activity. The weirdness started shortly before Harding's death. His wife owned a finch named Petey, who Mrs. Harding named after her ex-husband. One night, Petey woke her up with his singing, which was odd since he never sang at night. She took it as a bad omen... which was further corroborated when Warren G. Harding died not long after. Petey outlived both of them, and remains in the house, stuffed. The house is also home to the so-called "Death Clock", which eerily stopped on August 2, 1973, at 7:30 p.m... exactly 50 years after Harding died. It allegedly started working again a week later. It's not hard to imagine Warren G. Harding himself stopping the time to remind everyone that he's still around.
Thomas Jefferson was a self-taught architect who designed and built his beloved home plantation, Monticello, himself. He was buried on the property at his behest, and some believe that he still comes back to visit from beyond the grave. He's been spotted strolling around the grounds, and some people hear disembodied whistling... which he was known to do as he wandered his property.
Belle Grove Plantation, the birthplace of James Madison, has quite the reputation for being haunted. He is one of an estimated 80 ghosts who stalk the house and grounds. In fact, it's so haunted, it's been featured on SyFy's show "Ghost Hunters". Whether you stay the night or just take a tour, there's a good chance you'll experience something unusual. Orbs (during the day, even), disembodied voices, and shadowy figures are common sights. Known figures include a Civil War soldier, a woman in a long white dress, and even a galloping horse.
They offer frequent ghost tours and late-night ghost hunts, using all sorts of tools to make contact with spirits.
In the spring of 1806, Josiah Quincy III, a prominent Boston politician, stayed the night at Mount Vernon in the room where George Washington died. Bushrod Washington, George Washington's nephew, apparently hinted to Quincy that the ghost of America's first President "granted an interview" to some of the guests who stayed the night in the room, and the normally steadfast politician allegedly told his son that he did indeed encounter General Washington that night. Quincy's theory as to why Washington's ghost was restless? He suspected that George was upset that his velvet coffin cover in his tomb had been ripped nearly to shreds by visitors looking to snag a souvenir. Perhaps this is a grand scheme by the staff at George Washington's Mount Vernon to prevent visitors from touching anything. But, I'd rather not risk upsetting the ghost of George Washington by disturbing anything at the house myself!
The next time you have a spooky experience at a Presidential site, don't panic! It's probably just the ghost of a President past letting you know they're still watching over the land of the free.