A spooky double vision of himself in a mirror startled and scared Abraham Lincoln immediately after his triumphant election in 1860.
On election night 1860 Abraham Lincoln returned home after receiving good news over the telegraph and celebrating with friends. Exahausted, he collapsed on a sofa. When he awoke in the morning he had a strange vision which would later prey on his mind.
One of his assistants recounted Lincoln's telling of what happened in an article published in Harper's Monthly magazine in July 1865, a few months after Lincoln's death.
Lincoln recalled glancing across the room at a looking glass on a bureau. "Looking in that glass, I saw myself reflected, nearly at full length; but my face, I noticed, had two separate and distinct images, the tip of the nose of one being about three inches from the tip of the other. I was a little bothered, perhaps startled, and got up and looked in the glass, but the illusion vanished.
"On lying down again, I saw it a second time -- plainer, if possible, than before; and then I noticed that one of the faces was a little paler, say five shades, than the other. I got up and the thing melted away, and I went off and, in the excitement of the hour, forgot all about it -- nearly, but not quite, for the thing would once in a while come up, and give me a little pang, as though something uncomfortable had happened."
Lincoln tried to repeat the "optical illusion," but was unable to replicate it. According to people who worked with Lincoln during his presidency, the weird vision stuck in his mind to the point where he tried to reproduce the circumstances in the White House, but couldn't.
When Lincoln told his wife about the weird thing he'd seen in the mirror, Mary Lincoln had a dire interpretation. As Lincoln told the story, "She thought it was 'a sign' that I was to be elected to a second term of office, and that the paleness of one of the faces was an omen that I should not see life through the last term."
Years after seeing the spooky vision of himself and a his pale double in the mirror, Lincoln had a nightmare in which he visited the lower level of the White House, which was decorated for a funeral. He asked whose funeral, and was told the president had been murdered. Within weeks Lincoln was assassinated at Ford's Theater.