Nineteenth-century History

Message found hidden in Lincoln’s pocketwatch

Message in Lincoln's Pocketwatch

Message in Lincoln's Pocketwatch

I found a really interesting news article on CNN about a message left to President Lincoln on the inside of his pocketwatch by a watchmaker who was repairing it at the time Fort Sumter was attacked. Here is the article:

A long-hidden message has been discovered inside Abraham Lincoln’s pocket watch, the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History announced Tuesday.

The message in the watch differs slightly from what the watchmaker later said he wrote.

The message in the watch differs slightly from what the watchmaker later said he wrote.

Watchmaker Jonathan Dillon was repairing Lincoln’s watch in April 1861 when he heard about the attack on Fort Sumter, South Carolina, and wrote a short message on the metal inside the watch, the Smithsonian said.

There it remained, unseen for almost 150 years, it said.

In a 1906 interview with The New York Times, Dillon reported that as soon as he heard the news about the first shots of the Civil War, he unscrewed the dial of the watch and wrote on the metal, “The first gun is fired. Slavery is dead. Thank God we have a President who at least will try.”

The actual message that the museum found differs from the watchmaker’s recollection. It says, “Jonathan Dillon, April 13-1861, Fort Sumpter [sic] was attacked by the rebels on the above date J Dillon, April 13-1861, Washington, thank God we have a government, Jonth Dillon.”

According to the Smithsonian, it was not unusual for professional watchmakers to record their work inside a watch.

“Lincoln never knew of the message he carried in his pocket,” said Brent D. Glass, director of the National Museum of American History.

The museum decided to open the watch after being contacted by the watchmaker’s great-great-grandson, Doug Stiles, who had heard about the message Dillon said he had inscribed and wanted to see if it was really there.

Post a Comment

Your email is kept private. Required fields are marked *

*
*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Explore History Rhymes
Random Featured Articles
Who were the real cowboys? (Part 2)

Who were the real cowboys? (Part 2)

The history of the cowboy is a story that begins long ago. What we now think of as a uniquely American tradition is not solely American at all. Cowboy tradition first originated in mediæval Spain with the hacienda, or estate. The haciendas belonged to wealthy landowners and were generally, but not ...
New Series: Houses in Fin-de-Siècle Britain

New Series: Houses in Fin-de-Siècle Britain

Quite some time ago, I did a research project about houses in Fin-de-Siècle Britain. This resulted in a long essay about middle-class houses during this time period which specifically focused on general tendencies in architecture, architectural features, façades, floor plans, as well as interior d...
Emperor Norton I – Emperor of the United States

Emperor Norton I – Emperor of the United States

Joshua A. Norton is a little known figure in American history. He was the first and only self-declared emperor of the United States of America. He styled himself as His Majesty, Emperor Norton I. Most of his contemporaries understandably branded him as crazy, unstable and as having gone off the deep...
The Modocs – History and Culture of the Modocs (Part 1)

The Modocs – History and Culture of the Modocs (Part 1)

In the woods in southern Oregon, a man quietly stalks a deer. The summer weather is brutally hot and he sweats profusely. The man is careful to avoid making any sort of noise and is weary not to let his game out of sight. The deer stops in a small clearing and it is the...