Historic US Ghosts

Find out where to encounter the presence of a character from America's past.
By: Rose Edmonds

Unidentified sounds disturb the silence of night. The curtains begin to sway as a cold draft breezes across the room. Could it be the work of a spirit from another world? George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln and some of the most recognizable figures of American history may have returned to some of their former haunts. Find out where to encounter the presence of a character from America's past ... and we're not talking history books here.

Benjamin Franklin
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Benjamin Franklin was instrumental in laying the foundation of government for the fledgling United States. He also has a long list of contributions from his work as a writer, scientist, inventor, printer, philosopher, statesman and economist. Although he was born in Boston, much of his legacy is rooted in Philadelphia, where Franklin is buried alongside his wife, Deborah. It is in Philadelphia that his spirit has been known to put in an appearance from time to time. In 1884 a cleaning woman was knocked over by a ghostly figure rushing towards a bookshelf in the Philosophical Society's library. Her description matched that of Franklin. There are also reports of people who spied the philosophical Society's statue of Franklin dancing along city streets.
Famous American Act: United States Founding Father
Haunting Method: Statue in front of the American Philosophical Society comes to life and dances in the street.

Robert E. Lee
Alexandria, Virginia
Robert E. Lee, the son of a Revolutionary War hero, attended the United States Military Academy where he graduated second in his class. He was offered the command of the Union Army but declined in order to align himself with the Confederacy. He led a number of successful battles in the Civil War before his surrender at the Appomattox Court House in April of 1865. Perhaps due to the bloodshed he witnessed in America's divisive war, Lee's ghost has regressed back to his less complicated childhood years. A 4-year-old Lee has been seen playing in the yard of his childhood home in Alexandria, VA. The ghost is also the suspected culprit in several pranks, like a ringing doorbell and the rearranging of household objects while giggles echo through the hall. The boy is sometimes accompanied by a phantom black dog and two ghostly girls who may be his sisters. Her description matched that of Franklin. There are also reports of people who spied the Philosophical Society's statue of Franklin dancing along city streets.
Famous American Act: Confederate commander in Civil War
Haunting Method: Young 4-year-old Lee plays pranks at his boyhood home.

General P.G.T. Beauregard
New Orleans, Louisiana
An officer who served with distinction in the Confederate army, General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard ordered the first shots at Fort Sumter and led his troops into the bloody battle of Shiloh where 23,000 men from both sides were killed. Some believe that the General and some of the fallen troops of Shiloh still roam the halls of his home, Beauregard House, in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Visitors have reported seeing unearthly soldiers in battle stabbing each other with bayonets amidst the wounded with the sounds of cannon and rifle fire in the background. Beauregard seems doomed to constantly relive the horrible battle, as his ghost is said to appear from time to time in uniform, sadly whispering "Shiloh & Shiloh."
Famous American Act: Led Confederate troops into battle of Shiloh
Haunting Method: General roams ethereal battlefield, whispering, "Shiloh, Shiloh."

Aaron Burr
New York, New York
With romantic lighting and soft piano music as a backdrop, One If By Land, Two If By Sea restaurant is the setting for almost daily marriage proposals. But diners in the mood for love sometimes have to contend with the angry spirit of Aaron Burr, who is said to send dishes crashing and chairs moving from under dining patrons. The famous politician served as vice president of the United States from 1801 to 1805 after losing his bid for the presidency when Alexander Hamilton threw his support to Thomas Jefferson. In 1804 Burr mortally wounded enemy Hamilton in a duel fought in New Jersey. Burr is not the only unhappy soul from that conflict; the spirit of Hamilton has been seen haunting the area surrounding his tomb at Trinity Church in New York.
Famous American Act: Vice president of the US, but primarily known for killing Alexander Hamilton in duel.
Haunting Method: Burr smashes dishes and moves chairs at his carriage house, which is now a restaurant.

George Washington
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
The ghost of American president and Founding Father George Washington came to the rescue of a group of Union soldiers waging a battle against Confederate troops outside Gettysburg, PA, during the Civil War. The men were fighting to hold southern troops back from a strategic hill, Little Round Top, when a figure materialized before them, an officer on a shining white stallion with his upraised sword aflame. Dressed in the uniform of the American Revolution, the man was Washington, who then issued the command, "Fix bayonets! Charge!" The Union soldiers charged down the hill, forced the the Confederates into a full retreat and the Northern states were never invaded again. Current Gettysburg residents say that sometimes on hot summer nights they still see a ghostly rider on a splendid white steed galloping across the battlefield.
Famous American Act: First president of the United States
Haunting Method: Washington gallops across Gettysburg Battlefield every summer.

Betsy Ross
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Former mistress Betsy Ross is said to haunt her house where she sewed the first American flag. Ross, who is buried on the premises, has been seen weeping while sitting on her bed. In addition to the ghostly Mrs. Ross, the basement is often disturbed by mysterious whisperings that may belong to the displaced spirit of Charles H. Weisberger, the founder of the Ross Memorial. Others attribute the secondary haunting to the tortured soul of a gift shop employee who was murdered during a robbery years ago.
Famous American Act: Credited with sewing the first American flag
Haunting Method: Ross cries at the foot of her bed in her former house.

Abraham Lincoln
Washington, DC
Abraham Lincoln's life may have ended prematurely when he was shot by John Wilkes Booth in 1865, but his presence lives on at the White House. Famous later occupants, including President Theodore Roosevelt and First Lady Grace Coolidge, reported seeing a tall, gaunt figure in several rooms of the residence. From time to time, people walking by on the street have reported seeing a shadow of Lincoln's dimensions in the window of the Oval Office where the president often stood gazing at the Potomac River during the days of the Civil War. And Lincoln is not the only presidential haunting in the White House. Mary Todd Lincoln said she heard a man with the unmistakable voice of Andrew Jackson stomping and swearing in the Rose Room.
Famous American Act: President of United States
Haunting Method: Lincoln's tall figure has been seen roaming the halls of the White House.

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