Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Secret Message in Abe's Watch

A secret message inscribed in President Abraham Lincoln's pocket watch was only recently discovered by officials at the Smithsonian Institution. By happenstance, the pocket watch was being serviced by watchmaker Jonathan Dillon when the shop owner burst in with news that the Union Army's Fort Sumter had been attacked, thus beginning the Civil War. Dillon then inscribed the following message inside the guts of the watch: "Jonathan Dillon April 13-1861. Fort Sumpter [sic] was attacked by the rebels on the above date thank God we have a government." Of course, Fort Sumter was actually attacked on April 12, but no matter--you get the point.

Rumors of the hidden message have existed for 150+ years but it was treated as more legend than fact. This artifact of history might have gone undiscovered had Doug Stiles, great-great-grandson to Dillon, not alerted Smithsonian officials to the existence of a letter from Dillon purporting the existence of the hidden message.

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