The night bodyguard to President Benjamin Harrison reported hearing near constant footsteps in the hall where he was posted and assumed it was spirit of Abe Lincoln pacing the floor, back and forth. He was said to have grown so weary of the sound that he attended a séance to ask President Lincoln to stop. The noises were heard by many others over the year but they are said to have stopped after the extensive repairs were done to the second floor of the White House in 1952.
President Benjamin Harrison grandfather, William Henry Harrison, is said to haunt the White House attic. Harrison was the last president born before the United States Declaration of Independence was signed and served the shortest term, 30 days, 12 hours and 30 minutes.
Harrison died only three weeks after his inauguration when he caught a common cold which developed into Pneumonia and then pleurisy. His last words, spoken to his Vice President, John Tyler were, “Sir, I wish you to understand the true principles of the government. I wish them carried out. I ask nothing more.”
Harrison’s death started the legend of the “curse of the Shawnee Prophet”. The curse (Which is also called The Curse of Tippecanoe) derives from the battle of Tippecanoe in 1811 while Harrison was governor of the Indiana Territory. Apparently during the negotiation of the 1809 Treaty of Fort Wayne with Native Americans, Harrison used some underhanded tactics to cede enormous tracks of land from the Indian nations to the U.S. government.
The terms brought about the battle of Tippecanoe in which the Shawnee leader Tecumseh and his brother rose up against the westward expansion of the United States. It was Harrison’s leadership of the US troops during the battle that brought him national fame as a war hero. However, Tecumseh's brother Tenskwatawa, known as the Prophet, set a curse against Harrison and all others who were elected president during years with the same end number as Harrison. (He was elected in 1840)
For the next 120 years, presidents elected during years ending in a zero (occurring every 20 years) died while serving in office, from Harrison to John F. Kennedy and including Ronald Reagan, (elected in 1980) who was shot but survived and George W. Bush (2000) who survived an attempt on his life unharmed. However, the only president who died in office without being elected in a "cursed" year was Zachary Taylor, who was elected in 1848 and died in 1850.
Harrison is said to haunt the White House attic where his ghost has been seen tossing about papers and boxes as if he was looking for something very specific.
Harrison’s guard brush with the afterworld was not the only a séance was related to the White House. President Lincoln, no doubt in a move to appease his somewhat erratic wife, attended several séance in the White House and in his book The Choice, Bob Woodward describes a 1995, a séance was held by psychic Jean Houston in the White House solarium for the benefit of Hillary Clinton.
According to the book, Hillary, while in a deep trance, channeled the spirits of Eleanor Roosevelt and Mahatma Gandhi. Before that, First Lady Nancy Reagan asked her astrologer, Joan Quigley, to arrange an attempt to communicate with the otherworld through the so-called White House portal.
Nancy Reagan called Quigley in 1981 after John Hinckley's attempted assassination of the president and asked Quigley if she could have foreseen the assassination attempt. Quigley said she could have and Nancy then had her stay on as the White House astrologer in secret until that secret was released in 1988 by former chief of staff Donald Regan.
Explaining why she kept Quigley on, the First Lady wrote "Very few people can understand what it's like to have your husband shot at and almost die, and then have him exposed all the time to enormous crowds, tens of thousands of people, any one of whom might be a lunatic with a gun... I was doing everything I could think of to protect my husband and keep him alive."
Quigley later wrote, "Not since the days of the Roman emperors—and never in the history of the United States Presidency—has an astrologer played such a significant role in the nation's affairs of State."