Some of the most famous séances took place in the White House in 1863, when Mary Todd Lincoln invited the female medium Nettie Colburn Maynard to help her contact the spirit of her dead son Willie. Colburn’s stories from the Lincoln séances include some fantastic occurrences: supposedly a grand piano began levitating when she played it, and another time a bench levitated with the president still sitting on it. Historians disagree on whether Lincoln actually took part in these séances, but it seems likely that he did on at least some occasions. Lincoln was extremely distraught over Willie’s death: in the week following his funeral, on two occasions Lincoln visited the crypt where the embalmed body was interred and asked for the coffin to be opened so he could look on his face again. Afterward, he often said that he could sense the presence of Willie’s spirit in the White House.
Lincoln’s Spiritual bent also expressed itself in premonitions and visions of his own death: throughout his life, Lincoln claimed that when he looked in the mirror, he could sometimes see his own dead face floating, disembodied, next to his living reflection. According to other sources, Lincoln also consulted Spiritualists seeking information about the future course of the war.
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