For nearly 150 years, a story has circulated about a hidden Civil War message engraved inside Abraham Lincoln’s pocket watch. On Tuesday, museum curators confirmed it was true. A watchmaker used tiny tools to carefully pry open the antique watch at the National Museum of American History, and a descendant of the engraver read aloud the message from a metal plate underneath the watch face.
“Jonathan Dillon April 13 – 1861,” part of the inscription reads, “Fort Sumpter (sic) was attacked by the rebels on the above date.” Another part reads, “Thank God we have a government.”
The words were etched in tiny cursive writing and filled the space between tiny screws and gears that jutted through the metal plate. A magnifying glass was required to read them
Jonathan Dillon, then a watchmaker on Pennsylvania Avenue, had Lincoln’s watch in his hands when he heard the first shots of the Civil War had been fired in South Carolina. The Irish immigrant later recalled being the only Union sympathizer working at the shop in a divided Washington.
More new and interesting things being discovered. It really is a cool time to be alive.