Linking Lincoln and Kennedy

Almost immediately after John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, people found some strange connections between JFK and Abraham Lincoln. A few odd correlations here or there isn't really out of the ordinary — you can always find a connection if you look hard enough. What captures people's imagination, though, is the sheer number of apparent links between the two:

  • Both men were shot in the back of the head on a Friday by Southern men.

  • Lincoln was shot while sitting in box 7 at Ford's Theater; Kennedy was shot while sitting in a Ford Lincoln, car 7 in the Dallas motorcade.

  • Both presidents were second children who were named for their grandfathers.

  • Both presidents lost a son while in office: 11-year-old William Wallace Lincoln died in February 1862, and newborn Patrick Bouvier Kennedy died in August 1963.

  • Lincoln had sons named Edward and Robert; Kennedy had brothers named Edward and Robert.

  • Both men were succeeded by Southern Democrats named Johnson: Lincoln by Andrew Johnson, and Kennedy by Lyndon Johnson.

  • Lincoln and Kennedy both contain 7 letters.

  • Lincoln was killed by John Wilkes Booth, Kennedy by Lee Harvey Oswald; both assassins' names contain 15 letters.

  • Both presidents ultimately died in a place with the initials PH: Lincoln at the Peterson House and Kennedy at Parkland Hospital.

Over time, the number of connections has grown because of rumor and misinformation. The addition of unproven or exaggerated correlations has elevated the connection between Lincoln and Kennedy to urban myth:

  • Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln; Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy. Unproven. Kennedy actually did have a secretary named Evelyn Lincoln, but there is no proof that Lincoln ever had a secretary named Kennedy.

  • The Republican National Convention was held in Chicago when both of these men were nominated to run for president in '60. Exaggerated. Out of the 26 Republican National Conventions held between 1860 and 1960, 14 (more than half) were held in Chicago, which means there were pretty good odds that both would be nominated in Chicago.

  • Lincoln's and Kennedy's funerals were very similar. Exaggerated. This was actually by design; Jacqueline Kennedy wanted her husband's funeral modeled after Lincoln's.

  • Both Lincoln and Kennedy were over 6 feet tall. Exaggerated. Also true, but again not notable. Of our 43 presidents, 24 of them (55.8%) were 6 feet tall or taller.

  • Both men were sitting beside their wives when they were shot. Exaggerated. Kennedy was in a parade, and Lincoln was attending a public cultural event. When was the last time you saw a president do either of these things without his wife by his side?

  • Both men were elected in '60 with less than half the popular vote. Exaggerated. True, but Lincoln was assassinated during his second term. In 1864, he won reelection with 55 percent of the popular vote. Of course, the southern states didn't contribute to that popular vote because of the Civil War.