You may not believe in ghosts. Neither did many White House employees…until they started working there. Hundreds of reports of famous former residents have been filed over the years by those workers. President Harry Truman even reported “listening to the ghosts walk up and down the hallway” and that the “floors pop and the drapes move back and forth.”
One White House footman who began working in the 1860s reported seeing the ghosts of Presidents Grant and McKinley and a few First Ladies. Mrs. Grover Cleveland is said to be heard crying on the second floor.
Full disclosure: the ghosts don’t hang out in the closets — at least as far as we know — but it seems like they’re everywhere else.
1. Abigail Adams
First Lady to second President of the United States John Adams, Abigail was also one of the White House’s first residents. According to History.com, Mrs. Adams spent a lot of time in the East Room, because it was the warmest in the mansion. People have reported seeing her in a cap and shawl, her arms positioned as if carrying the laundry away, and even hanging the laundry in the East Room as the smell of soap fills the air.
2. Andrew Jackson
Mary Todd Lincoln reported seeing and hearing Andrew Jackson storming through the house, cursing all the way. His bedroom during his Presidency was the Rose Room — and is the most haunted room in the place. Many people also report his ghost ripping out a huge gut-laugh.
3. Dolley Madison
The belovéd First Lady to President James Madison famously saved the portrait of George Washington when the British burned the White House during the War of 1812. Her ghost can be found in the White House Rose Garden, the garden she planted. It’s said that she protects the area. When First Lady Ellen Louise Wilson ordered the area dug up, workmen reported Madison appearing to chase them away.
4. John Tyler
John Tyler is often seen proposing to his second wife in the Blue Room.
5. The Demon Cat
The spectral feline is supposedly seen before a national disaster. The size of it depends on how close the viewer is to the cat. It starts as a little kitten but grows even more fierce as one gets closer to it. It was reportedly seen before the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and before the Kennedy Assassination.
6. Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson can be seen playing the violin in the Yellow Room.
7. Abraham Lincoln
One of the most famous and often reported ghosts in the White House is that of Abraham Lincoln. Winston Churchill refused to sleep in the bedroom after encountering Lincoln while in the bath. Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands passed out after answering Lincoln’s knock on her door. Lincoln’s ghost has even been seen in the Coolidge, Roosevelt, Johnson, and Ford Administrations. Even President Reagan and his guests saw his apparition looking out the window.
8. William Henry Harrison
The first President to die in the White House, he reportedly haunts the attic.
9. British Soldiers
Reports of Redcoats are seen in various areas of the White House. They are sometimes holding torches, waiting to burn the White House all over again. Others are at the North Portico, standing guard.
10. The Thing
No, not the Fantastic Four’s Thing. This Thing is a young teen boy whose hand grasps the shoulders of unsuspecting visitors as if to look over their shoulders. President Taft ordered that anyone spreading rumors of the Thing’s existence should be fired.