Ask Bizarre - The Lincoln Kennedy coincidences
BorelandN: Somebody sent me this list of facts. Are they true or just a load of bollocks like most of the "true facts" that come from the Internet?
- 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.
- The names Lincoln and Kennedy each contain seven letters.
- 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 were shot in the head.
Here is an interesting one...
- Lincoln 's secretary was named Kennedy.
- Kennedy's secretary was named Lincoln.
- Both were assassinated by Southerners.
- Both were succeeded by Southerners.
- Both successors were named Johnson.
- Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808.
- 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 compromise fifteen letters.
- Booth ran from the theatre and was caught in a warehouse.
- Oswald ran from a warehouse and was caught in a theatre.
- Booth and Oswald were assassinated before their trials.
And last but not least...
- A week before Lincoln was shot he was in Monroe, Maryland.
- A week before Kennedy was shot he was in Marilyn Monroe.
DR MIKE: Spooky. And there are actually more links between the two presidents than you know – up to 104 have been listed, and the Lincoln-Kennedy Coincidences (as they are known) are probably the most celebrated set of weird parallels there are. Other gems include:
- Both presidents were boat captains – Lincoln of the SS Talisman and Kennedy of PT109.
- Lincoln was shot in Ford's Theater. Kennedy was shot in a Ford Lincoln automobile.
And, the clincher for me...
- Both men liked to sit in rocking chairs.
I could go on. But even then you'd not be counting the amazing links between John F Kennedy and the number 6:
- Kennedy was shot in Dallas, which has 6 letters.
- He was shot from the 6th floor of a book depository.
- Kennedy was shot on a Friday, a day which contains 6 letters.
- He was shot on the 22nd day of the 11th month. Adding these figures together, 2+2+1+1, you get the number 6
- By taking the initials FBI and moving each initial 6 letters forward in the alphabet, you end up with the initials LHO.... does it not seem a little weird that by using the key number 6 we end up with the initials of Kennedy's killer, Lee Harvey Oswald?
- The surname of his assassin, Oswald, contains 6 letters.
- The assassin's middle name, Harvey, also has six letters.
- The assassin's first name, Lee, has 3 letters, er... which is half as many as six letters.
Of course, what all this fails to take into account is the probability that there will be plenty of parallels to find in any two reasonably busy presidential lives.
The simple coincidence of the two men being president approximately a century apart, for example, significantly reduces the odds on apparently weirder coincidences such as their vice presidents being born 100 years apart – the chances are anyone who can claw their way to the vice presidency in the 60s of a given 100 year period is going to have been born in the first two decades of the century. And note that while Andrew and Lyndon Johnson share near-birthdays, the two men 'connected' by the supposed coincideces don't – Lincoln was born in 1809, Kennedy in 1917. If there really was a mystical link between Lincoln and Kennedy, why would it apply to their vice presidents but not the presidents themselves?
Then, of course, there are problems with some of the coincidences that are cited. It's stretching a point, for instance, to say that Booth fled to a warehouse – it was actually a barn. And Oswald was arrested in a cinema rather than a theatre.
Worse, Lincoln did not have a secretary called Kennedy. He actually had two but their names were John J. Nicolay and John M. Hay. The error seems to be a corruption of a parallel noted by an author named Jim Bishop, who published a book called A Day in the Life of President Kennedy back in 1964. Bishop noted a rather strained Lincoln-Kennedy coincidence: 'When Lincoln became president in 1861, one of the persons most worried about his safety was John Kennedy, superintendent of police in New York; when Kennedy became president in 1961, one of the persons most worried about his safety was Evelyn Lincoln, his personal secretary'. Within a year of the book's publication, the incorrect – and much more dramatic – 'coincidence' was already in circulation.
In short, the fact is that it's possible to make amazing-sounding links between pretty much anything you care to think of. Here are two Bizarre's encountered on the Net:
1. The Kennedy-Obregón Coincidences http://www.csicop.org/si/9809/coincidence.html
Arturo Magidin of Mexico City won a Spooky Presidential Coincidences competition organised by Skeptical Inquirer, the organ of the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) by finding 16 parallels between JFK and obscure dead Mexican presidente Alvaro Obregón (1880-1928).
A few examples from Magidin's list:
- Both "Kennedy" and "Obregón" have seven letters each
- Each was assassinated
- Both their assassins had three names and died shortly after killing the president
- Kennedy and Obregón were both married in years ending in 3
- Each had a son who died shortly after birth
- Both came from large families and died in their forties.
2. The Wombat-Big Mac Coincidences http://web.archive.org/web/19981206090342/http://www.du.edu/
- Both have six letters in their name
- The wombat started down-under and crossed the equator heading north; the Big Mac started up north and crossed the equator heading south
- Both have meat in the middle
- Both have "B" in a key position
- Both have "M" in another key position
- Both have "A" in a third key position
- Both have buns
Enough, I think, said.