Publication Date

Summer 2015

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Glenn LaFantasie (Director), Patricia Minter, and Tamara Van Dyken

Degree Program

Department of History

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Decades before Freud revealed his revolutionary dream theory, Americans became fascinated with the reported dreams of their greatest hero, Abraham Lincoln. Immediately following Lincoln’s assassination, accounts of his dreams and visions were recorded and made public by those who were close to him during his presidency. This thesis evaluates the three most famous dreams and visions that have been ascribed to Lincoln, as their legitimacy is often doubted. Five additional dreams that are more easily documented are also discussed, and, when taken together, they reveal a significant aspect of Lincoln’s worldview and reflect the complicated nature of belief systems in America during the nineteenth century. Nineteenth century Americans were largely on their own to interpret the meaning of their dreams, and they ultimately came to conclusions that were based within their fundamental worldview. This thesis shows that Lincoln’s dreams are a valuable source for determining his worldview, which was essentially a form of fatalism. While many argued that his recurring dream that preceded important events in the Civil War and a dream about his own funeral in the White House were either evidence of his belief in spiritualism or some divine prophecy, Lincoln’s response to those dreams reveals his true nature. This analysis helps us examine Lincoln’s interior as well as showing how a pre- Freudian culture responded to the dreams of a national hero.


History | United States History