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Lincoln and Kennedy

J. E. Hill

Every once in a while the following list of coincidences between John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln comes up. I am not sure if the purveyors of this stuff think there is some cosmic significance to this or that a supernatural source "designed" these things to occur, since it is never stated exactly just what the purpose of this exercise is.

I would suspect the attached "mystical value" could be, and is used in several ways: First, that there is some sort of power in the universe that controls events. After all, how else can you explain the relationship of the events? Certainly all of these things cannot be coincidental. Therefore, there must be some force controlling them. As we will see, this form of circular reasoning in this application is false. Second, and for the more religious, that a god, specifically "The God," is pulling the historical stings for some mysterious reason that can only be found in the mind of God. Again, circular reasoning. Third, for the less credulous, just an interesting coincident of facts that have some sort of unexplained connection.

However, as I will show, (with a dose or two of humor) this is a case of special pleading. Only the facts and figures that are coincidences are shown. For instance, the list is silent on the fact Lincoln was born in 1809, Kennedy in 1917 . Of the most important statistics or facts, either one side or the other is ignored. Indeed, if one just takes the flip side of one instance, its polar opposite is no where as close as the first.

This list usually starts like this:

Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.
John F Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.

They do not share the same birthdays. Lincoln practiced law, something Kennedy never did, formally anyway. Lincoln was born in Kentucky, Kennedy in Massachusetts. Lincoln was poor, Kennedy was rich. Kennedy never lost an election. Lincoln did. Lincoln was never a Senator (he lost), Kennedy was. Lincoln was the 16th president, Kennedy the 35th. Lincoln was a Republican, Kennedy a Democrat. Kennedy defeated Nixon, Lincoln defeated Douglas, Breckinridge, and Bell. When Kennedy was elected, South Carolina did not secede from the union! Kennedy did not lose his mother in childhood. Kennedy had more brothers and sisters than Abe. Their mother's and father's names are also completely different: Joe and Rose; Thomas and Nancy.

Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860.
John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960.

The were killed on different days, different years, different months. Kennedy was a Catholic, Lincoln was a Deist.

Both were particularly concerned with civil rights.

This is arguable, and certainly was not the rallying point of Kennedy's election. Kennedy was Camelot, Lincoln was keeping the Union together. Lincoln was reelected for a second term, Kennedy never made through one.

Both wives lost their children while living in the White House.

It's easy to get lost in the White House!! Sorry. Both had children who did survived. William Wallace (Willie) Lincoln died in 1862 at the age of 11, probably of typhoid. The Lincoln's had four children, all boys, with two surviving into adulthood. The Kennedy's had a daughter, Caroline; a son, John Jr. (born between the election of 1960 and Inauguration Day). Patrick Kennedy, born prematurely on August 7, 1963, died two days later. The Kennedy's also experienced a miscarriage and the stillbirth of a daughter. Lincoln's son was never killed in a plane crash. Lincoln's brother was never assassinated; or Attorney General!

Both Presidents were shot on a Friday.
Both Presidents were shot in the head.

Kennedy was riding in a car, Lincoln was sitting in a chair. Kennedy was shot in the afternoon, Lincoln in the evening. Kennedy was shot in Dallas, Lincoln in Washington. Lincoln was carried to a boarding house, Kennedy to a Hospital. Kennedy was killed almost instantly, Lincoln hung on and died the next morning.

Lincoln's secretary was named Kennedy.
Kennedy's secretary was named Lincoln.

Interesting, but just a coincidence. Lincoln's secretary of war was Cameron and Stanton; Kennedy's secretary of defense was McNamara. Not one of any of the other cabinet members have the same name.

Both were assassinated by Southerners.
Both were succeeded by Southerners named Johnson.

Coincidence: One was named was Booth, one was named Oswald. John Wilkes Booth was born on May 10, 1838 near Bel Air, Maryland, just barely south (only twenty-five miles) of the Mason-Dixon line. Oswald, born: October 18, 1939, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Booth was single where Oswald was married but separated. Booth was an matinee idol; Oswald was a total loser, he even called himself a "patsy." Oswald never shouted anything after shooting Kennedy; Booth shouted "Sic semper tyrannis." Their wives (the Johnson's) had different first and last names. Lyndon Johnson's wife, Lady Bird's real name was Claudia Alta Taylor; Andrew Johnson's wife was, Eliza McCardie. Kennedy's wife was Jacqueline Lee Bouvier; Lincoln's wife was Mary Ann Todd. Birth and death dates are completely unrelated numerically.

Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808.
Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.

Coincidence: Born in different months (December, August) They died in different years, 1875 compared to 1973.

John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, was born in 1839.
Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy, was born in 1939.

Both died in different years that are not numerically related: Booth 1865, Oswald 1964; After shooting the President, Booth stabbed Henry Rathbone. Oswald stabbed no one. Booth had four co-conspirators that were hanged. Oswald acted alone(?) Well, that's what the Warren Reports says! Or alternatively, Oswald was a CIA operative and Booth was not! Take your pick.

Both assassins were known by their three names.
Both names are composed of fifteen letters.

Many infamous people are known by all three names and it's a popular media device to separate from others that may have common first and last names. Actually, Booth was know in the theater as J. Wilkes Booth. Most of our modern presidents (as well as other famous people) have gone by all three names: FDR, JFK, DDE, etc. Booth's name has three "O's" in it...Oswald's only one; Oswald's name had three "E's" in it...Booth's only one. You can make 15 different words out of the letters in Oswald's name and only eight out of Booth's. Just kidding; I really didn't try, but you get the point; but this is a "Non Sequitur"...it simply does not follow that this is, in any way, related to their historical significance.

A little known fact this list doesn't mention: A month before the assassination, John Wilkes Booth had rested on the exact same bed the President died on. Now that's spooky!

Lincoln was shot at the theater named '"Ford.'
Kennedy was shot in a car called "Lincoln."

Good Grief!! If Kennedy was riding in a General motors car something would have come up such as Lincoln was sitting with a general...which, I believe, he was. Lincoln's wife was sitting next to him where as a governor was by Kennedy and shot also. Lincoln was shot with a pistol, Kennedy with a high powered rifle. This would have been much closer if Lincoln had been riding in a carriage. Again, if this is suppose to have any sort of "profoundness" to it, why was Kennedy in Dallas and Lincoln in Washington...this isn't even close to any kind of connection.

Booth ran from the theater and was caught in a warehouse.
Oswald ran from a warehouse and was caught in a theater.

Technically, Oswald was in a book depository, and Booth was caught in a barn. Booth jumped from the balcony, Oswald did not jump from the window. Booth broke his his left fibula from the jump, Oswald was arrested unharmed. Booth and his partner, David E. Herold were sleeping in a tobacco barn on a farm when they were found by the Union Calvary.

> > Booth and Oswald were assassinated before their trials.

Booth was not "assassinated." He was hunted down and shot by a Union soldier although they tried to take him alive, Booth was prepared to die telling the calvary, "I will never surrender!" Oswald was in custody when he was shot by a civilian, no less. No where is there any suggestion of a Jack Ruby type (names, dates, places, and etc) in the Booth story.

A week before Lincoln was shot, he was in Monroe, Maryland.
A week before Kennedy was shot, he was with Marilyn Monroe.

This is the only one that makes sense, but certainly unprovable from the Kennedy side. Marilyn and Maryland are spelled differently. One is a state, the other a person. On the flip side, and more interestingly, who was Lincoln with in Monroe, Maryland, and where was Kennedy when he was "in" Marilyn Monroe?

Conclusion:

While searching for similarities in historical events, we really shouldn't forget that for every one we find there are numerous other dissimilar things and occurrences. To only mention the ones we find amusing, coincidental, or interesting, we are doing ourselves an injustice and using poor thinking skills, leading to false conclusions and wild assumptions. While it remains "interesting" to make certain comparisons, to believe stuff like this has any real substance, is mystical, uncanny, or evidence of a higher power is really nonsensical. To paraphrase Freud: Sometimes a coincidence is just a coincidence.

Published:
  2001-02-27

Categories:
  Not Categorized.

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