Could These Eerie Similarities Between Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy Reveal the Real Reason They Were Assassinated?

While several presidents died while in office, not many presidents have been assassinated. A surprising number became the target of assassination plots, but just four were assassinated: Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, and John F. Kennedy. Over the years, people have noted some striking similarities between the two most famous presidents on that list: Lincoln and Kennedy.

Do those eerie parallels reveal something about why both Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy were assassinated? Read on to discover which of these parallels are as disturbing as they seem, which amount to nothing more than ordinary coincidences, and which are actually just false.

1. Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846, and John F. Kennedy in 1946

John F. Kennedy
Both of them started as congressmen. | National Archive/Newsmakers/Getty Images
  • True or false: True

As Snopes reports, a list of coincidences seemingly linking Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy isn’t exactly what it seems. “Several of these entries are either misleading or factually incorrect,” Snopes explains. “And the rest are mostly mere superficial coincidences that fail to touch upon the much more substantial differences and dissimilarities that underlie them.” It’s true that Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy were elected to Congress 100 years apart. But Snopes notes that otherwise, their political careers bore little resemblance to one another.

Next: The two men became president this many years apart. 

2. Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860, and John F. Kennedy in 1960

The Inauguration Of President John F. Kennedy
There is a set time time for elections. | Hulton Archive/Getty Images
  • True or false: True

Similarly,Abraham Lincoln did become president in 1860. And John F. Kennedy did ascend to that office 1960. But as Snopes points out, that “coincidence” seems less surprising when you remember that presidential elections happen only once every four years. “So, even though both men were politically active at the national level during eight-year spans when they might have been elected President, circumstances dictated that the only years during those spans when they both could have been elected were exactly one hundred years apart,” the publication explains. Plus, Abraham Lincoln had won re-election to a second term as president. But Kennedy died before he completed his first.

Next: Their last names share this weird similarity. 

3. The names Lincoln and Kennedy each contain 7 letters

Abraham Lincoln
It’s a basic one but it’s true. | Rischgitz/Getty Images
  • True or false: True

The names “Lincoln” and “Kennedy” do both have seven letters. But Snopes characterizes this is as “the most trivial of coincidences.” The average length of presidential surnames sits right at 6.64 letters. And Snopes notes that when people talk about the similarities between Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, they fail to mention that the two men’s first names contain different numbers of letters. And they definitely don’t bring up the fact that Kennedy had a middle name, while Lincoln didn’t.

Next: They both dealt with these issues in office. 

4. Both were particularly concerned with civil rights

President John F. Kennedy
It was also the time. | National Archive/Newsmakers/Getty Images
  • True or false: True, but unremarkable

Another supposed coincidence linking Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy points to both presidents’ involvement in civil rights issues. But Snopes quickly debunks that unremarkable connection. “Saying that Lincoln and Kennedy were both ‘particularly concerned with civil rights’ is like saying that Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt were both ‘particularly concerned with war,’ or that Herbert Hoover and Ronald Reagan were both ‘particularly concerned with economics.'” As Snopes notes, presidents deal with the issues that face the nation during their presidencies. (Though some have managed to be racist regardless of the events happening at the time.)

Next: This tragedy befell both of their families. 

5. Both wives lost children while living in the White House

Their son Willie (L) passed away at the age of 11. | Edward Anthony/Wikimedia Commons
  • True or false: Technically true

Snopes characterizes the statement that both Lincoln and Kennedy’s wives lost children while living in the White House as one that “encompasses events that were completely different in circumstance and nature.” Mary Todd Lincoln bore all of the couple’s children before Abraham Lincoln became president. The Lincolns lost two children, one of whom died at the White House at the age of 11. Kennedy and his wife were actually still young enough to be bearing children. And a premature child born to Jacqueline Kennedy in 1963 died two days later.

Next: Their assassinations happened on this day of the week. 

6. Both assassinations occurred on a Friday

John F. Kennedy and Jackie assassination
It’s not a crazy coincidence. | Walt Cisco/Wikimedia Commons
  • True or false: True

Both Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy died on a Friday. But Snopes notes that this shouldn’t surprise anybody. After all, we only have seven days in a week. “Absent all other factors, the odds were already an unremarkable one in seven that both killings would have occurred on the same day of the week. (No, the odds are not one in 49; that’s a common mistake made by statistical novices.)”

Next: Their assassins chose the same target. 

7. Both presidents were shot in the head

Lincoln Assassination Illustration
It’s the only way to assure death. | Currier & Ives/Wikimedia Commons
  • True or false: True

The men who killed Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy shot the presidents in the head. But Snopes characterizes this similarity as “exceedingly trivial in nature.” As the publication points out, chest shots and head shots remain “the only two types of shots which reasonably assure a dead victim,” both assassins’ objective. Morbid as it sounds, it hardly seems coincidental that both assassins chose to shoot the president in the head. Plus, both Lincoln and Kennedy were shot from behind and while seated. That means that their assassins couldn’t very well have chosen a target other than their heads.

Next: This claim about their secretaries proves untrue. 

8. Lincoln’s secretary, Kennedy, warned him not to go to the theatre, while Kennedy’s secretary, Lincoln, told him not to go to Dallas

John F. Kennedy In the oval office with TV Cameras
There was no evidence. | Getty Images
  • True or false: False

Snopes characterizes this claim as “simply wrong.” John F. Kennedy had a secretary named Evelyn Lincoln. She may or may not have warned the president about going to Dallas. But Snopes could find no evidence that Abraham Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy. (He had secretaries named John G. Nicolay and John Hay.) Plus, Snopes points out that presidents frequently receive assassination threats. In fact, presidents “rarely make any public appearances without somebody’s warning them of potential danger. Only on the extremely rare occasions when a tragedy actually occurs do we later take note of the warnings,” Snopes explains. In all other cases, we quickly forget those warnings.

Next: Their assassins didn’t actually have this in common. 

9. Southerners assassinated both presidents

John F. Kennedy's murderer Lee Harvey Oswald
He moved all over the place. | Stringer/AFP/Getty Images
  • True or false: False

Snopes reports that this claim makes “a dubious use of the term ‘southerner.'” John Wilkes Booth sympathized with the southern cause. But he hailed from Maryland. Maryland, along with Delaware, remained part of the Union throughout the Civil War. Booth also spent much of his life in the north. And Snopes reports that he “thought of himself as a Northerner who understood the South.” You could consider Lee Harvey Oswald a southerner only because he was born in New Orleans. But in his his youth, Oswald moved among Louisiana, Texas, and New York. And Oswald didn’t have a regional affiliation to motivate his assassination of Kennedy.

Next: But their successors did share this similarity. 

10. Southerners succeeded both presidents

Impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson
A southern senator helped balance the ticket. | Library of Congress/Handout/Getty Images
  • True or false: True

Conversely, it’s true that both Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy were succeeded by southerners. But only because both chose southerners as their vice presidents. Snopes characterizes that fact as “hardly surprising considering the historical circumstances of their times.” Lincoln needed a southerner to balance the ticket in a time of civil war. In fact, Lincoln chose the only southern senator who refused to follow his state when it seceded. And because Kennedy represented new England, he needed a vice president who could appeal to the southern and western parts of the country.

Next: Their successors shared the same name. 

11. Both Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy had successors named Johnson

a portrait of lyndon b johnson
It’s also a very common name. | Keystone/Getty Images
  • True or false: True

Abraham Lincoln chose Andrew Johnson as his vice president. John F. Kennedy chose Lyndon B. Johnson. So after each president’s assassination, their vice presidents succeeded them. But Snopes notes that this coincidence — that both presidents had successors named Johnson — seems fairly unremarkable. “Given the high frequency of ‘Johnson’ (literally ‘son of John’) as a surname in both Lincoln’s and Kennedy’s time, this ‘coincidence’ should be no real surprise to anyone,” the publication explains.

Next: Their successors were born this many years apart. 

12. Andrew Johnson was born in 1808, and Lyndon Johnson was born in 1908

American President Lyndon Baines Johnson addresses the nation on his first thanksgiving day television programme
It’s just a round number. | Keystone/Getty Images
  • True or false: True

Andrew Johnson and Lyndon Johnson had birth dates 100 years apart. But Snopes reports that, yet again, the hundred-year coincidence shouldn’t surprise anyone. “There’s nothing ‘coincidental’ about events merely because they somehow involve the number 100,” the publication explains. “If we sifted through all the Lincoln/Kennedy data, we could produce multiple instances of events involving the number 17 or 49 or 116, but nobody would consider those ‘coincidences’ because they don’t yield nice round numbers that have any significance to us.”

Next: This claim about their assassins proves false. 

13. John Wilkes Booth was born in 1839, and Lee Harvey Oswald was born in 1939

John Wilkes Booth
Booth was born in 1838 so this doesn’t hold up. | Hulton Archive/Getty Images
  • True or false: False

This sounds like another 100-year coincidence. But as Snopes points out, this one actually proves false if you consult historians, not viral lists. John Wilkes Booth “was born in 1838, not 1839,” the publication reports. According to Snopes, the lists of “coincidences” that circulate the internet generally fudge his birth date by a year in order to draw a false parallel with Lee Harvey Oswald’s birth year. After all, most people don’t remember presidents’ birth years. So how many people really catch that mistake?

Next: This claim about their assassins isn’t true, either. 

14. Both assassins went by their 3 names

John Wilkes Booth
It’s not entirely true. | Hulton Archive/Getty Images
  • True or false: Half-true

This claim only proves half-true, if not false. Snopes reports that John Wilkes Booth often went as “J. Wilkes Booth” or even as “John Wilkes” in order to distinguish himself from other members of his family. He became a prominent actor, and many people knew his name before he assassinated Lincoln. Lee Harvey Oswald generally went by “Lee,” not “Lee Harvey,” before he assassinated Kennedy. The general public knew nothing about him until his arrest. As Snopes explains, the Dallas police began to refer to Oswald with his full name only because he used false names and forged identification. That initially made it difficult for authorities to identify him.

Next: This claim proves false, as well. 

15. Booth ran from the theater and was caught in a warehouse, while Oswald ran from a warehouse and was caught in a theater

Abraham Lincoln assassination
It’s actually inaccurate. | Hulton Archive/Getty Images
  • True or false: False

This parallel sounds pretty creepy at first glance. But Snopes characterizes this claim as “both inaccurate and superficial.” John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln in a theater (the kind of theater for plays and other live stage shows). He fled across state lines. Then, authorities trapped and killed him in a tobacco shed several days later. Conversely, Lee Harvey Oswald shot John F. Kennedy from — but not in — a textbook warehouse. Oswald remained in Dallas. Authorities caught him in a movie theater only about an hour later.

Next: This claim technically proves true. 

16. Booth and Oswald were assassinated before their trials

A private citizen shot Oswald. | Three Lions/Getty Images
  • True or false: True

Snopes characterizes this final parallel as “superficial.” And the publication also calls into question the use of the word “assassinated.” After Booth shot Lincoln, he fled the scene and eluded capture for 11 days. Federal troops discovered him hiding on a farm, and set fire to the shed when he refused to surrender. A trooper shot Booth, aiming for his arm but striking his neck instead. Conversely, Oswald was arrested and remained in custody for two days before a private citizen named Jack Ruby shot him.

As Snopes demonstrates, most of these parallels are superficial coincidences. Most are explained by mere chance. And as much as we would like to know exactly why two of our most loved presidents were assassinated, these coincidences offer no such explanation for these tragic events.

Read more: You’ll Never Believe the Real Reason Queen Elizabeth II Didn’t Like Jacqueline Kennedy

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