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Abraham Lincoln

The Lincoln/Kennedy List of Coincidences is a piece of American folklore of unknown origin. The list appeared in the mainstream American press in 1964, in the wake of the 1963 John F. Kennedy assassination, having appeared prior to that in the G.O.P. Congressional Committee Newsletter.[1][2] Martin Gardner debunked much of the list in an article in Scientific American, later reprinted in his book, The Magic Numbers of Dr. Matrix.[3] Gardner's version of the list contained 16 items; many subsequent versions have circulated having much longer lists. The list is still in circulation today, having endured in the popular imagination for over 40 years. A more recent debunking of the list is available online.[4]


The list

John F. Kennedy

An example of a shorter version of the list is presented here for illustration. Much of the list has been debunked, and some entries are outright falsehoods. Some urban folklorists have postulated that the list provided a way for people to make sense of two tragic events in American history by seeking out patterns.[4] However, as Gardner and others have pointed out, it is relatively easy to find seemingly meaningful patterns relating any two people or events, but such patterns often do not stand up to rigorous scrutiny.

  • Both presidents were elected to the presidency in '60.
  • Both presidents were elected to the United States House of Representatives in '46.
  • Both were runners-up for the party's nomination for vice-president in '56.
  • Both successors were Southern Democrats named Johnson born in '08.
  • Both presidents were concerned with the problems of American blacks and made their view strongly known in '63. Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, which became law in 1863. In 1963, Kennedy presented his reports to Congress on Civil Rights, and the same year was the famous March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
  • Both presidents were shot in the head.
  • Both presidents were shot in presence of their wives.
  • Both presidents were shot on a Friday.
  • Lincoln was shot at Ford's Theatre. Kennedy was shot in a Ford car; a Lincoln limousine.
  • Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy who told him not to go to the theatre. Kennedy had a secretary named Evelyn Lincoln (who was born 100 years after Abraham Lincoln, and whose husband Harold's nickname was Abe), and she warned him not to go to Dallas.
  • Both Oswald and Booth were killed before they could be put on trial.
  • Lincoln and Kennedy each have 7 letters.
  • Lincoln and Kennedy both had five syllables in their full name (which counts Kennedy's middle initial).
  • John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald each have 15 letters and 3 words.
  • There are 6 letters in each Johnson's first name.
  • Booth shot Lincoln in a theater and hid in a warehouse, while Oswald shot Kennedy from a warehouse and hid in a theater.
  • Kennedy's assassination was filmed by a man named Abraham and Ford's Theater was owned by a man named John.

Some of the items above are true, such as the year in which Kennedy and Lincoln were each elected President, but this is not so unusual given that Presidential elections are held only every four years, and both started their political careers 100 years apart. Other items twist the truth. Some of the items are simply untrue; there is no record to show that Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy; Lincoln's secretaries were John Hay and John G. Nicolay[4].


  1. ^ A Compendium of Curious Coincidences, TIME, August 21, 1964
  2. ^ Newsweek, August 10, 1964
  3. ^ The Magic Numbers of Dr. Matrix By Martin Gardner. 1985. Prometheus Books. Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 84-43183, ISBN 0-87975-281-5 (cloth), 0-87975-282-3 (paper) (This was previously titled The Numerology of Dr. Matrix. It contains all of The Incredible Dr. Matrix plus four more chapters.)
  4. ^ a b c Mikkelson, Barbara & David P. "Linkin' Kennedy" at Snopes: Urban Legends Reference Pages.

External Links

See also



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