Time Will Tell: Secret Civil War Message Found In Abraham Lincoln’s Pocket Watch

1_61_a320As a history nut, this story is simply too good to be true. For decades, there has been a rumor that the pocket watch of Abraham Lincoln contained a secret message from the Civil War. The National Museum of American History finally decided to check the story out and carefully opened the back of the watch. The story proved to be true.

Squeezed between the gears and screws, the following inscription was found: “Jonathan Dillon April 13 – 1861. Fort Sumpter (sic) was attacked by the rebels on the above date. Thank God we have a government.”

The inscription was made by Jonathan Dillon, a watchmaker on Pennsylvania Avenue, who was working on Lincoln’s watch when he heard the first shots of the Civil War had been fired in South Carolina. Dillon’s family passed down the story until it appeared in an New York Times article in 1906.

Dillon’s great-great grandson, Doug Stiles, brought the story to the attention of the museum and the watch was opened by watchmaker George Thomas.

For the full story, click here.

21 thoughts on “Time Will Tell: Secret Civil War Message Found In Abraham Lincoln’s Pocket Watch”

  1. Wujiang drawn out a Qin Ming e-book to read. The Yamagami land zero cost? The human world Overseer help make? I the wind in that case goes Qin Ming ebook, mouth he recites Street. All of a quick, his response, however. Inspections under the some products, but the human globe, but no one to adopt care of for some time, so tory burch flats rank also rose one, belonging to the 3 rd grade female officer, teenager body is six products, natural to call.

  2. Well, I am glad we have real law school graduates here with the patience to thump the hump’

  3. Jill, thanks. Lindy Lou, I would welcome the removal of Texas from the Union. It would be the best economic stimulus we could ask for.

  4. You all made me laugh so hard! I have to say it was a bit shocking to hear rafflaw say the mad humper was after him. LindyLou that was funny and you are a class act!

  5. Oh,my God, the Mad Humper is after me!


    I need to remember to read from the top down! It won’t be long until Humper will be able to take refuge in the Republic of Texas under the steady leadership of President Chuck Norris. Chuck is very worried about America. Norris loves America so much, he wants to Texas to secede. Texas, the land of guns and no gays. A land of bountiful wildlife such as snakes, scorpions, and turantulas. No wonder Bush, Cheney, Alberto Gonzales, and Tom delay feel so at home there.

    Got your suntan lotion handy, Humper? It’ll be your paradise. All that good Texas 10-gallon hat justice will always be on your side. Utopia.

  6. Oh,my God, the Mad Humper is after me! I have become a hater because I must have asked Mr/Ms Humper the wrong question(s. My bad! By the way Humper, I am guessing that I have been “here” in your country a lot longer than you have. CCD, I am guessing that Humper, et al are from Pat Robertson’s school and are earning some extra money during Spring Break! I wonder if they have learned about the CREEP lawyers that played dirty campaign tricks and are trying to emulate them? What was the term that they used to refer to their tricks??? Rat something???

  7. Are the undergrads from Fundamentalist University making their beer money here this week? And did they get the commission check in advance so we’re stuck with their drunken Von Troll drivel.

  8. humper:

    “Get the HEck out of our country you hater.”


    If it really was your country, most people whose knuckles didn’t drag the ground would happily leave.

  9. I can’t resist any longer. I was biting my tongue, trying to avoid dealing with the trolls, but this last one put me over the top. Humper, how does it feel to be a liar? How does it feel to totally ignore the facts of the last 50 plus days of the Obama administration. How does it feel to know that the guy you miss was responsible for the loss of over 4 million jobs? I can’t say that I have agreed with everything he has done so far, but to say you knew where George Bush stood is great comedy. You knew that he was spying on you without a warrant and you still miss him? You knew he had been given legal cover by the Yoo memos to assume disctatorial powers and you still miss him? (By the way, how did you know about the contents of the secret memos??? Is this Prof. Yoo writing under the name of “Humnper”? You also state you could believe Pres. Bush and therefore you miss him. Did you believe him when he said in Buffalo that we always use warrants to wiretap? Did you believe him when he said Saddam had WMD’s? Did you believe him when he said “hella of a job, Brownie? Did you believe him when he left his vacation to sign an unconstitutional bill to keep life support on for a dead woman against the courts order and the wishes of her husband? Did you believe Bush when he told you that the basics of the economy were still strong in the summer of 2008, when the recession started in December, 2007? Did you believe him when he said he didn’t torture? I could go on for awhile, but I don’t want to waste too much space on the troll family. Riddle me this Humper, just what truthful statement of consequence did the man utter in 8 years? Go cash your check form the RNC now, because it may not be good too much longer.
    I think you are right about that edge thing. I think I feel it.

  10. I think Barack Obama is the bigges phony ever elected and today he proved it with his signing statement, hiding from America to sign a pork filled omnibus bill, and twiddling his thumbs while our economy tanks.

    I have met very few people that will admit they voted for this dunce of a President.

    I almost miss President Bush; at least we knew where he stood and could believe him.

  11. Give President Obama a grade
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  13. Why Is Wishing Obama Anything but Success Considered Close to Treason?

    Rush Limbaugh started a firestorm in January when he told FOX News Channel’s Sean Hannity he wanted Barack Obama’s socialist policies to fail.

    Months later, it was revealed that an August 2006 Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll found 51 percent of Democrats hoping that then-President George W. Bush would not succeed.

    One has to wonder whether such numbers should be at all shocking.

    It is an indisputable, historical fact that many Colonists did not support independence from England, and were hoping with all their heart and all their soul that President George Washington would fail.

    Less than a century later, likely half the nation hoped President Abraham Lincoln didn’t succeed in defeating the Confederacy.
    The argument today is that wishing ill upon President Obama is unpatriotic because of the fragile condition of our economy — but it is a metaphysical certitude that Washington and Lincoln presided over a much weaker nation than what we are facing in 2009.

    What makes President Obama so special that wishing him anything but success is almost an act of treason?

    Some might argue that Limbaugh’s statements are unacceptable due to his high-profile position, and that he must be more guarded with his opinions as a result.

    But doesn’t that run quite counter to the First Amendment? After all, Limbaugh is a conservative commentator who gets paid a sizable sum to express his views.

    This suggests something else entirely.

    As former General Electric CEO Jack Welsh said on Monday, if you say anything bad about our current president, “all of a sudden you’re a pariah!”

    This can’t possibly be due to current economic conditions for it seems certain John McCain would not be similarly protected from criticism if he had won in November.

    Sadly, this means the likely culprit is race and that Attorney General Eric Holder was right when he called us a nation of cowards just not for the reasons he believes.

  14. You mean he forgot to engrave the word, “Not” don’t you? That should be a valuable watch, like when the mint makes a misprint on the money. ;

  15. I have it on good authority that Nixon’s watchmaker, who made the repair on November 18, 1973 after Nixon’s famous press conference,wrote, “Yes, he is most certainly a crook!”

  16. I bet Nixon has a watch in his coffin that says: “You won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore”! This is a really wonderful, interesting story!!!

  17. This is a great story indeed. I heard the radio broadcast of the “opening” when Jonathan Dillon’s ancestor, Mr. Stiles, was given the honor of reading the inscription to the assemblage. If I might echo Mr. Dillon in the present, “Thank God we have a government (again).”

  18. What a story! Geraldo missed the boat on this one! I guess he realized his career couldn’t withstand another non-story.

    It’s historical graffiti, I guess. He likely realized that the watch would one day become a collector’s item and made his mark.

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