Every American knows about the White House and the role that it plays within our country and our government, also known as the Presidential Mansion, it is arguably one of the most iconic buildings in the entire nation. Surprisingly, despite its status within the nation, there are a great many people who are unaware of just how haunted the building and its grounds are. Considering the record of eye-witness accounts and what we would assume is their reliability, we found out just how much paranormal history this monument to American democracy has actually seen.
A Timeline of the Paranormal
White House History gives us a timeline for the account of lost souls and hauntings that this particular symbol of America and to be quite frank, there has been a lot of action surrounding the White House; after all, politics can divide families and close friends, they can incite rage and violent behavior, and they can even threaten the very security of the nation itself.
The War of 1812: The Unnamed British Soldier
There are still regular reports being made of an unnamed British Soldier who roams the White House grounds while holding a torch–it is said that his soldier perished upon the grounds during the War of 1812.
1860-1870’s The Death of Willie Lincoln
Mary Todd and Abraham Lincoln had four sons, only one of whom–Robert Todd–survived to see adulthood; their son Edward passed away at the tender age of four and Willie, who fell ill during his father’s first presidential term, died of a fever. While grieving over her son Willie’s death, Mary Todd began to delve into her spiritual interests and started holding spirit circles and seances in the Red Room of the White House. During the height of the Civil War, spiritualistic practices became quite popular, due to so many families seeking comfort from the loss of their loved ones. At the behest of his wife, Abraham attended two of the sessions, but was not entirely satisfied with the results, and could be found weeping at Willie’s crypt for hours. The Lincoln’s third son, Tad, passed away at age eighteen after his father’s assassination. Their third son died after Abraham had already been assassinated. To this day, it is claimed that Abraham’s ghost still appears in the Lincoln Bedroom and the Yellow Oval Room. Some notable witnesses to his apparition were First Lady Grace Coolidge, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, as well as Queen Wilhemina of the Netherlands. As far as Willie? Well, the last time Willie’s spirit was witnessed was in the 1870s by the administration of the White House.
During the 1860’s Mary Todd Lincoln would reportedly hear the ghost of Andrew Jackson stomping and swearing, while he is otherwise said to be hanging out in his bed in the Queens Bedroom laughing heartily.
During Andrew Johnson’s presidency, he was reportedly visited multiple times by Anna Surratt who was there to beg for a pardon on her mother’s behalf, her mother was Mary Surratt, a conspirator for Lincoln’s assassination. Years after her death, her ghost can still be witnessed banging on the doors of the White House in desperation for a pardon for her mother.
1901-1904: Jeremiah Jerry Smith
Smith began working at the White House during the late 1860s during the Ulysses S. Grant administration, his career lasted around 35 years before he retired. His accounts of the ghosts of Lincoln, Grant, McKinley, and several of the first ladies were always a media go-to on slow news days.
1911: The Thing
An apparition that terrified the Taft administration and domestic staff in 1911, was one of an unidentified fifteen-year-old boy; even Major Archibald Butt, the military aid to President Taft acknowledged the ghost, saying it was, “a young boy about fourteen or fifteen years old … they say that the first knowledge one has of the presence of the Thing is a slight pressure on the shoulder, as if someone were leaning over your shoulder to see what you might be doing.” It was after this point that President Taft ordered Butt to make the White House staff aware that they would be fired if they ever repeated stories about the Thing.
These days the random apparition is still experienced by White House Staff and administration, though some administrations may be less forthcoming about these sightings. Thomas Jefferson, for example, is seen and heard playing his violin in the Yellow Oval Room, while Dolley Madison is said to protect the Rose Garden. John Tyler haunts the Blue Room where he proposed to Julia Gardner, his second wife. William Henry Harrison, the first president to die in the White House, haunts the attic and the smell of wet laundry and lavender are observed in the East Room where Abigail Adams hung laundry. David Burnes, the original owner of the land on which the Presidential Mansion now stands can be both seen and heard in the Yellow Oval Room.
North Carolina-based author and artist, Mary has been a horror aficionado since the mid-2000s. Originally a hobby artist and writer, she found her niche in the horror industry in late 2019 and hasn’t looked back since. Mary’s evolution into a horror expert allowed her to express herself truly for the first time in her life. Now, she prides herself on indulging in the stuff of nightmares.
Mary also moonlights as a content creator across multiple social media platforms—breaking down horror tropes on YouTube, as well as playing horror games and broadcasting live digital art sessions on Twitch.