The Odd Parallels Between Kennedy and Lincoln

Culture Watch
tags: Abraham Lincoln, JFK, JFK assassination

Ms. Klein is a student of the JFK assassination whose researches have taken her to Dealey Plaza and the Texas School Book Depository on several occasions. Her latest article on the subject was published in the American Journal of Legal History.

Comparing Kennedy's death to Lincoln's gives you a host of weird coincidences. Some examples are:

Both Presidents were shot in the back of the head, on the Friday before a major holiday, while seated beside their wives, neither of whom were injured.

Both were in the presence of another couple, and in each case that man was also wounded by the assassin.

After both assassinations there were loud and insistent claims that the fatal shot must have come from a different direction.

Each President in his thirties married a socailly prominent twenty-four year old girl who spoke French fluently.

While in the White House, each President had a family of three children, and both lost a child through death.

Both Lincoln and Kennedy were second children.

Both had been boat captains.

Both were related to a U.S. Senator, Attorney General, ambassador to Great Britain, and the mayor of Boston.

Each had been elected to Congress in the year '47 and were vice-presidential runners-up in the year '56.

Each was elected president in '60.

Before each was elected, a sister died. Both had a friend named Billy Graham and knew an Adlai Stevenson.

President Kennedy had a secretary named Mrs. Lincoln and President Lincoln had a secretary named John Kennedy.

The names Lincoln and Kennedy each contain seven letters.

Both were succeeded by vice-presidents named Johnson: Andrew born in 1808 and Lyndon in 1908, both of whom had 13 letters in their names and two daughters.

Both assassins have fifteen letters in their names.

Booth shot Lincoln in a theatre and fled to a warehouse. Oswald shot Kennedy from a warehouse and fled to a theatre.

Both assassins were in their turn assassinated by shooters who used a Colt revolver and fired only one, fatal shot.

There are many more coincidences. But does any of this prove any connection whatever between the two murders? No, of course not. It just exemplifies the minor mysteries and ironies that surround any great public tragedy. But true believers see gathering unanswered questions as an end in itself, believing somehow that even if none of the anomalies implies anything, the sheer number they come up with must have some significance. But when you are adding zeroes, it does not matter how many you add, the sum is still zero.

comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:

Keith Stanton - 1/14/2004

Thank you Professor Sellars for proving once again that some people can't let others just enjoy themselves. The original authors thesis was that there were lots of coincidences. He does not allege conspiracy, he does not allege the stars are in alignment, nor does he state that the staff at Christopher Newport University neglected their duties and forgot to teach its students such information. He was merely having fun.So please lighten up, take it for what it is meant to be-pure enjoyment, and keep working hard so you can make full Professor.

mimi - 12/18/2003

lincoln liked me before he died he was trying to kick game to me u better let him know somthing or his wife you feel me. 1

resa - 12/12/2003

if this is all true then we should see this repeated offence agian in ten years! we will see.

Mike - 11/21/2003

A few mistakes made, but still there are some incredible similarities.

1) Marilyn Monroe died on August 5th 1962, so it was impossible for Kennedy to have been with her when he died on Nov. 22nd 1963.

2)Booth was born in 1838, not 1839.

3)Lincoln never had a secretary named Kennedy, they were named John J. Nicolay and John M. Hay.

Irregardless, there are some strange similarities.

Arcky - 11/21/2003

Marilyn Monroe died in 1962 NOT so Kennedy could not have been with her one week before he was assassinated.

Cornelia Shields - 11/20/2003

    The assassinations coincidence page listed above is great!  It contained some amazing facts of which I was unaware, and is a must to consult for anyone preparing a comprehensive list for the 40th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination on Saturday.  I'd like to post links to it on discussion groups and print it for my dad, an avid assassinations buff.  Below are some contributions and questions of mine.

(This is from my dad)--Both presidents were in motion when shot.  (Not very strong, as there doesn't seem to be proof that Lincoln was actually rocking the rocking chair when shot--but, President Kennedy's favorite chair, which was most associated with him, was a rocker.  Is it possible to contact Ford's theater for a background on the Lincoln chair's history?  Since Kennedy was shot in a Lincoln built by the Ford Motor Company, it would be cool if Lincoln's Ford's Theater rocker were either built by someone named Kennedy, or related to the Kennedy family.)

--Both Lincoln and Kennedy lost an adult sister who never lived to see her brother be president.

--You could also say both were moved from the place where they were shot and pronounced dead in another place.

--Both presidents being concerned with civil rights is perhaps a bit weak, but a stronger connection is that both assassinations were deemed southern-oriented conspiracies against the president, and that he was targeted because of his politics.  (In Oswald's case, he turned out to be a left-wing nut, though, not the expected right-wing nut.)

--In light of the fact that some people visit Oswald's grave only to spit and walk away, and that people from Dallas were blamed for decades for the president's death--spat on, cussed at, turned out of restaurants, and so on--I find it amazing that neither Booth's nor Oswald's brothers and sisters seem to have been much discriminated against for their connection, though they were questioned about their brother, at least in the form of interviews.  (And I thought Oswald had only one brother--at least one page, I believe the one cited above, says two, but, oh, well--both seem to have been well-respected, as were Booth's brothers.  Were Oswald and Booth the only "bad egg" in each of their respective families?)

--In each case, the assassin's mother was living at the time.  (I think Oswald's mother maintained his innocence--don't know about Booth's.)

--In both cases, relics of the scene were preserved.  Don't know about Lincoln's clothes but I know a photograph exists of the actual contents of his pockets when shot, and also a photograph of Kennedy's bloodstained shirt. Both Ford's Theater and the Texas School Book Depository are now museums.  Lincoln's blood is still on the rocker.  (So it would be technically possible to clone them both from that--then perhaps make a combined clone.  Ugh, uck.)

What has astonished me since the death of John F. Kennedy, Jr., is the parallels between the couples' children.  The page cited above states correctly that each couple had four children, two of whom died before their teens.  You might clarify that:

--Each couple lost one child BEFORE entering the White House, one child WHILE in the White House, and one child who died childless AFTER leaving the White House.  The Lincolns lost a son, Edward, while the Kennedys had a stillborn daugher prior to Caroline.  The Lincolns lost Willie while in the White House, while the Kennedys lost Patrick Bouvier, who was NOT (as some pages erroneously state) a miscarriage, but a premature baby who lived two days.  (This makes the Lincolns and Kennedys more similar to each other than to other bereaved Presidential parents.  For instance, the Coolidges lost a son, Calvin, in the White House, but they had only two sons and did not lose a child both before and after the presidency as the Lincolns and Kennedys did.  Of course, it's not an exact parallel as Willie Lincoln was the only son to actually die IN the White House itself--Calvin and Patrick both died in hospitals attended by doctors.  Like Lincoln and Kennedy, Coolidge also lost an adult sister before his presidency, and, like Lincoln, it was his only sister--maybe someone should look into this.)

--Tad Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, Jr., both had birthdays near the time of their father's assassination.  Tad turned 12 just 10 days before his father was shot, while John Jr. turned 3 on the day of his father's funeral.

--Of each couple's four children, only one lived to have their own children.  Tad Lincoln died unmarried, while John F. Kennedy Jr. died married, but childless.

--Each child who did have children, Robert Lincoln and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, had exactly the same:  two girls and one boy.

--In each case, the boy was named after his grandfather, the president, but called "Jack."  Robert Lincoln said his son would be called "Jack" until he proved worthy of the name of Abraham Lincoln, but "Jack" died at 19.  Caroline's son, John Kennedy Schlossberg, is called "Jack."

--Of Robert Lincoln's children, only one had a child, a boy who had no children.  More parallels?  Watch this space over the next 40 years.

--Both wives were with their husbands when he was shot.  None of the children were with their parents when their father was shot.  I know Robert and Tad learned of it from others, and am pretty sure Caroline and John also did.

--In each case, the family were all buried together except for one son.  Jacqueline Kennedy had the remains of her two infants moved to Arlington and herself buried there near John F. Kennedy.  It would have been easy for John F. Kennedy, Jr., to be placed with them, but his sister, Caroline, decided any gravesite of his might be defaced, so he was buried at sea.  The remains of Willie, Tad, and Mary Lincoln were all moved to be placed with Edward and Abraham in a family tomb in Springfield, Illinois.  Like the Kennedy infants, Willie was moved at the time of his father's burial.  Robert oversaw the security of this tomb, but was buried someplace else himself!

--Isn't there something a bit ironic about the Kennedys being buried at Arlington National Cemetery, which was Robert E. Lee's home--seized from his family by Lincoln's soldiers!

    I'll let you know if I come up with more.

Cornelia Shields

Cornelia Shields - 11/20/2003

Here is a link to a very good page on this subject:


Since I did not read all of the above comments before posting, please forgive any repetitions in this page or in my own posts. Additions or corrections are also welcome, but don't try to e-mail the address given on the page--it's no good.

Bob Sieuruncle - 11/16/2003

Heh, teacher needs an education.

Unfortunately for a great many people, truth was the first casualty of the information superhighway....

Bob Syuruncle - 11/16/2003

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

Hmm, pretty sick. What was that line from the movie? "Don't F**k the dead ones....." Ewwwwww....

nicole - 10/28/2003


NoT tElliN - 10/25/2003

u should not put misleading stuff on the internet...my teacher...got it and thaught it was tru*even tho some of it is*
she told it too our HOLE clas and now we are learning the wrong things...thanks...NOT

GABBY V. - 10/9/2003

DUDE you just save my life. cause with this i cant fail history class! thanks for this kool information

David Fontenot - 8/4/2003

Before Lincoln was shot he was in Monroe, Maryland. Before Kennedy was shot he was with Maryln Monroe.

Mark - 7/25/2003

NO,...Wrong!!!! Marilynn Died in August of 1962, Kennedy Nov. of 1963 ( 15 months after the death of Monroe...)

James Shand - 7/10/2003

A friend recently saw the Lincoln-Kennedy parallels posted at her retirement home, and I suggested we look for similar apparent or superficial coincidences between the 2 other assassinated US Presidents, viz. Garfield and McKinley. Both have 8 letters in their last name. Both were shot in large public places. Both were Civil War officers. Both were from Ohio. Both were succeeded by Vice-Presidents from New York. Are there others?

laura placke - 7/9/2003

i have to disagree with the last statement about kennedy being with mariyln monroe a week before he was shot not true monroe was dead a year before kennedy was shot

Hilda V. - 7/3/2003

I made a thesis on the above subject several years ago....In addition, I discovered several more parallels, but unfortunately, I can't find a hard copy of my thesis anymore...
But what I do remember are : Both of them have favorite poets named Robert (one was Robert Frost, I forgot the other one...but you could check further), both kept a little black book where they write down notes, both were strongly opposed to slavery (JFK was the first president after Lincoln who tackled emancipation strongly), JFK's secretary, Mrs. Lincoln, was married to man named Abraham, both of their assassins were killed even before being brought to trial, both lost a son while in office and both of their wives (Mary Todd & Jackie Bouvier) were both smart, well-educated women who came from prominent/rich families.....

Kevin M. Fitzpatrick - 11/22/2002

I am writing this a few minutes before Nov.22. A writer whose name I unfortunately forget just wrote a book "Blood on the Moon".The author's thesis is that the assasination of President Lincoln was a Confederate Secret Service operation. Nevertheless,in popular culture Booth has been portrayed as the first of the lone-nut gunman. We all assume the Southern slaveholders were honorable men who, while they might whip a black or hire someone to whip him,would not stoop to murder their enemies.

Chad Reid - 11/21/2002

This theme of similarities seem to surface through email every few years as well. Below are a few more comparisons.

> Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.
> John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.
> Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860.
> John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960.
> Both were particularly concerned with civil rights.
> Both wives lost their children while living in the White House.
> Both Presidents were shot on a Friday.
> Both Presidents were shot in the head.
> Now it gets really weird.
> Lincoln's secretary was named Kennedy.
> Kennedy's Secretary was named Lincoln.
> Both were assassinated by Southerners.
> Both were succeeded by Southerners named Johnson.
> Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in
> Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.
> John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, was born in 1839.
> Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy, was born in 1939.
> Both assassins were known by their three names.
> Both names are composed of fifteen letters.
> Now hang on to your seat.
> Lincoln was shot at the theater named 'Ford'.
> Kennedy was shot in a car called 'Lincoln' made by 'Ford'.
> Booth and Oswald were assassinated before their trials.
> And here's the kicker.......
> A week before Lincoln was shot, he was in Monroe, Maryland
> A week before Kennedy was shot, he was with Marilyn Monroe.

Nigel Sellars - 11/21/2002

So what.

Let's look at compelling differences.

1. Lincoln was shot by a derringer; Kennedy with a rifle.

2. Lincoln's assassin was an actor, Kennedy's a book depository worker.

3. Lincoln was killed in Washinton at the theater, Kennedy in a motorcade in Dallas.

4. Lincoln's sole military experience was captain of militia unit which never saw action; Kennedy captained aPT boat, saw action, and proved himself a hero.

5. Lincoln may have had Marfan's syndrome; Kennedy had Addison's disease.

6. Lincoln had little schooling, Kennedy graduated from Harvard and attended Standford for grad work.

7. Lincoln's family originally came from England; Kennedy's from Ireland.

8. Lincoln's grandfather was killed by Indians; Kennedy's was mayor of Boston.

9. Lincoln's father was a periapatetic failure; Kennedy's extremely wealthy.

10. Lincon's mother died while he was young, and he had a loving stepmother; Kennedy's mother outlived him and died in her nineties.

I could go on and on, but I won't because obsessions with minutae are trivial and miss the point.

BTW, Lincoln did not have a secretary named Kennedy. His secretary was John Hay. His did, however, know a NY Police Commissioner named John Kennedy (!) who expressed concern for Lincoln's safety after his 1860 election and before his 1861 inaugaral, but not later.

Nor, to my knowledge, was Lincoln actually a boat captain, unless you want to stretch his poling a flatboat down the Mississippi to such a lofty position.

As Skeptical Inquirer has noted, such coincidences have little, if any, meaning and are generally totally unimportant except for those of a conspiratorial bent.

Nigel Sellars
Assistant Professor of History
Christopher Newport University
Newport News, Virginia

Jim C. - 11/20/2002

Richard Nixon and Thomas Jefferson both served as VP before becoming President.

"Nixon" and "Jefferson" both end in "-on".

Both were elected to their first terms by narrow margins, and to their second terms by wide margins.

Both had vice-presidents who left office under a cloud of scandal (Burr, Agnew).

The next president elected after each was a Southerner named James.

Both had lost a presidential election to a Harvard graduate named John from a wealthy, prominent Massachusetts family, before finally winning the presidency.

This is from Skeptical Inquirer, Spring 1992. Several lists of "amazing Presidential coincidences" are given to show how easy they are to come up with.

The reason it's easy to develop such lists is that the lists consist only of the few coincidences. The far more numerous differences are passed over.

David Parker - 11/19/2002

"Marilyn Monroe's death occurred on August 5, 1962," meaning, of course, that the statement that John Kennedy was "with" her a week before his death could not be true.

Professor Gould is exactly right. That's why I said it was a silly statement, on a par with "Jackie Kennedy liked bananas, Mary Todd Lincoln went bananas." I assume that whoever added those to the list of Lincoln/Kennedy parallels, a list that probably numbers a hundred or more items now, did so as a joke.

Just out of curiosity--and this is one I DON'T know--was Lincoln in fact in Monroe, Maryland, a week before his death? does such a place even exist?

Lewis L. Gould - 11/19/2002

Marilyn Monroe's death occurred on August 5, 1962.

X - 11/18/2002

...been done http://www.snopes.com/history/american/linckenn.htm">better.

David Parker - 11/18/2002

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

David Parker - 11/18/2002

Valerie Klein barely scratches the surface with her list. I've seen the following:

-- Lincoln was killed in FORD's Theater; Kennedy was killed while riding in a Lincoln convertible (a car made by the FORD motor Co.).

-- Lincoln was in Box 7 of Ford's Theater; JFK was in car number 7 of the motorcade in Dallas.

-- Neither one died immediately. Lincoln was taken to the Petersen House, Kennedy to Parkland Hospital (both with initials PH).

-- Both presidents liked rocking chairs.

-- Jackie Kennedy loved bananas; Mary Todd Lincoln went bananas. (see, it gets silly after a while, like the one about Marilyn.)

-- Both men were known by 3-letter names: ABE and JFK. (Actually, I made this one up, but it's true.)


John Allen Paulos, in _A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper_, told how a computer programmer named John Leavy showed that these lists of parallels are really meaningless coincidence by constructing similar lists for other presidents. For example, Leavy looked at two other assassinated presidents, William McKinley and James Garfield. "Both of these presidents were Republicans who were born and bred in Ohio. They were both Civil War veterans, and both served in the House of Representatives. Both were ardent supporters of protective tariffs and the gold standard, and both of their last names contained eight letters. After their assassinations they were replaced with their vice presidents, Theodore Roosevelt and Chester Alan Arthur, who were both from New York City, who both sported mustaches, and who both had names containing seven letters. Both presidents were slain during the first September of their respective terms by assassins, Charles Guiteau and Leon Czolgosz, who had foreign-sounding names."

Of course it's no worse than the "elected in a year that ended in a zero" story.

I remember seeing a few years ago a similar chart comparing Elvis Presley and Kennedy. I wish I'd saved it--it was funny.

Frank Lee - 11/18/2002

Ms. Klein gets to her point in the end. It's questionable, though, how many "true believers" will pay attention to her final paragraph when there are so many coincidences to sift through and add to their lists on the way there.