Smithsonian reveals engraving hidden in Lincoln watch





WASHINGTON –- 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.

"April 13 - 1861," the first line reads, "Fort Sumpter (sic) was attacked by the rebels on the above date. J Dillon." The second part repeats same date, states the location as Washington and says, "Thank God we have a government."

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.


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