1862: That Time Abraham Lincoln Levitated on a Piano

Lincoln Piano

Fayette Hall’s  Secret and Political History of the War of the Rebellion (1890) (here) is an interesting example of conspiracy theory from the turn of the century, blaming “Abraham Lincoln’s lust for power, and the people’s greed for gold, or greenbacks” for the Civil War and imputing to the Republicans the “exercise of a power greater than that possessed by kings and emperors“ and “acts of injustice, tyranny and cruelty…unparalleled since the days of Attila, Caligula and Nero.”

“The country was ruled by ignorance, superstition, fanaticism, spiritualism and diabolism,” Hall writes. “There is a secret history connected with those times, and with those in power, which, when given to the public, will be the most astounding and seemingly incredible of anything ever written in this country, if not in the history of the world.”

Incredible indeed. The book contains a dubious account of how Abraham Lincoln came to sign to Emancipation Proclamation, relating the narrative of a Col. S. B. Kase , “a tall, stoutly built old gentleman of truly striking appearance.”

“In the early part of 1862,” Hall reports Kase saying, “I went from Philadelphia to Washington to further the progress of a railroad bill in which I was interested.”

Once there, a mysterious voice leads him to the office of a medium who hands him an envelope to deliver to Lincoln. Kase is unsure at first, but delivers the envelope to the White House, where Lincoln opens it to find a mysterious message.

Some weeks later, he is invited to the home of a Mrs. Laurie, and his narrative continues:

Two or three evenings after that I went to her house in Alexandria. When I entered the parlor I found the President and Mrs. Lincoln there, together with a number of people whom I did not know. For a while the conversation was general and nothing unusual happened.

Suddenly a young girl, about 15 years old, walked the length of the drawing-room to where President Lincoln sat. Stopping in front of him, the child — for she was nothing more — looked into his eyes with a peculiar rapt expression on her face.

The secret and political history of the war of the rebellion : t

“President Lincoln,” she said, in a clear, but not loud voice, “the liberty of our Nation, conceived in the womb of oppression, and born in the throes of the Revolution, can never be crowned with the wreath of immortality until each and every human being in these United States is free! Slavery in any form must not exist. So says that spiritual Congress, which in this dread time of menace and danger to the Union watches over and directs the affairs of the Nation with even greater care and steadfastness of purpose than do the representatives chosen by the people. I have been chosen as their medium of communication with you. Before you can hope to bring about the great and lasting glory of this republic, you must make every man within its boundaries free. You must emancipate all the slaves by your pen, and your armies must indorse your action with the sword.”

She talked to the President in this strain for an hour and a half, never hesitating or faltering for a word, and clothing her thoughts in language which, in her normal condition, she could not have understood. When she recovered from her trance she knew nothing of what she had done or said. This child was Nettie Maynard, afterward recognized as one of the greatest mediums in the world. The President seemed greatly  impressed with what the girl had said.

A short time before he had said to those urging the emancipation idea:  “I hope it will not be irreverent for me to say that, if it is probable that God would reveal his will to others on a point so connected with my duty, it might be supposed He would reveal it directly to me, for, unless I am more deceived in myself than I often am, it is my earnest desire to know the will of Providence in this matter, and if I can learn what it is I will do it.” On Sept. 22, 1862, he signed the proclamation making the slaves freemen.

Before I left Mrs. Laurie’s that night, I had another experience worth noting. Mrs. Miller, her daughter, began to play on the piano, and as she did so the piano jumped up and down on the floor, keeping time to the music. I asked if I might sit upon the instrument so that I could testify by my sense of feeling that it really moved. She gladly consented, and President Lincoln, Judge Wattles, who hailed from the West, and I sat on the piano. Mrs. Miller played again and the piano jumped so violently and shook us up so roughly that we were thankful to get off it.

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