Hidden message found in Lincoln’’s pocket watch from 1861

March 11th, 2009 - 3:00 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, March 11 (ANI): A watchmaker has found a legendary message inscribed inside American President Abraham Lincoln’’s pocket watch, dating back to 1861.
The legend about this message has been there for almost 150 years, with rumors claiming that it was written by an Irish immigrant and watchmaker named Jonathan Dillon.
Dillon, working in a D.C. watch repair shop in 1861, told family members that he had been repairing Lincoln’’s watch when news came that Fort Sumter had been attacked in South Carolina.
It was the opening salvo of what became the Civil War.
Dillon told his children that he opened the watch’’s inner workings and scrawled his name, the date and a message for the ages: “The first gun is fired. Slavery is dead. Thank God we have a President who at least will try.”
He then closed it up and sent it back to the White House. Lincoln never knew of the message. Dillon died in 1907.
The watch, meanwhile, was handed down and eventually given to the Smithsonian Institution in 1958. It didn”t run anymore and no one had pried open the inner workings in ages.
Then, according to a report in the Washington Post, Douglas Stiles, Dillon’’s great-great grandson, alerted Smithsonian officials to the family legend last month.
He”d heard the legend around the dinner table as a kid, but had just discovered a New York Times article from 1906, quoting Dillon as telling the story himself.
Officials from Smithsonian’’s National Museum of American History decided to find out if the legend was true or not.
Expert watchmaker George Thomas used a series of delicate instruments - tweezers, tiny pliers - to pull apart Lincoln’’s timepiece.
The hands of the watch were original with a case made in America and the workings from Liverpool.
When he pried off the watch’’s face, pulled off the hands, and turned it over to see the brass underside of the movement, he found the legendary message.
Split into three different sections to get around the tiny gears, was this razor-thin etching: “Jonathan Dillon April 13, 1861. Fort Sumter was attacked by the rebels on the above date. Thank God we have a government.”
Though Dillon had not forecast the end of slavery, or Lincoln’’s critical role in its demise, but the little bit of history that was present in Lincoln’’s watch, had finally been found.
“That’’s Lincoln’’s watch,” Stiles said after putting it down, “and my ancestor wrote graffiti on it!” he exclaimed. (ANI)

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