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Museum reveals engraving hidden in Lincoln watch

Museum reveals hidden engraving in Lincoln watch

For nearly 150 years, a story has circulated about a hidden Civil War message engraved inside one of Abraham Lincoln's pocket watches. Now we know what it says.

April 13 — 1861. Fort Sumpter was attacked by the rebels on the above date. J. Dillon. ... Thank God we have a government.

On Tuesday at the National Museum of American History, the pocket watch was opened to reveal the message left by watchmaker Jonathan Dillon during repairs in 1861. In 1906, the New York Times quoted Dillon saying that he was moved to engrave the message after the first shots of the Civil War were fired in South Carolina.

Collector suspects Lincoln is in photo uncovered in Grant album

A collector believes a photograph from a private album of Civil War Gen. Ulysses S. Grant shows President Abraham Lincoln in front of the White House and could be the last image taken of him before he was assassinated in 1865. If it is indeed Lincoln, it would be the only known photo of the 16th president in front of the executive mansion and a rare find. Grant's great-great-grandson, Ulysses VI, had seen the picture before, but didn't examine it closely until recently. A tall figure caught his eye, although the man's facial features are obscured. Keya Morgan, a Lincoln aficionado, helped identify it. Authenticating the 2½-by-3½-inch photo will be difficult, but Morgan and Grant found evidence they were on the right track when they removed the photo from the album. On the back, someone had written, "Lincoln in front of the White House." Good clue. You can see the White House, a short fence that once lined the building and a Thomas Jefferson statue that was later replaced. Five people are in front of the building. The tall man's face is obscured, but zooming in reveals a telling beard. "Once you blow it up, you can see the whole scenario — there's a giant standing near the White House," Morgan said. Even if it's not Lincoln, it would be among the oldest photographs of the White House.

'Terrorists to the bone'

Self-professed mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, right, and four other men charged in the Sept. 11 attacks mocked the U.S. failure to prevent the attacks in a rambling response to the government's case against them. They were at a pretrial hearing in Guantanamo, Cuba, when President Obama suspended all war-crimes proceedings pending review. They will still be tried, but under what system has not yet been determined. They face the death penalty if convicted on charges that include murder and terrorism. Here are excerpts from their statement:

• "With regards to these nine accusations that you are putting us on trial for; to us, they are not accusations. To us they are badges of honor, which we carry with pride."

• "Your intelligence apparatus, with all its abilities, human and logistical, had failed to discover our military attack plans before the blessed 11 September operation. ... Why then should you blame us, holding us accountable and putting us on trial? Blame yourselves."

• "You are the ones who attacked the Iranian civilian aircraft, flight 655, in 1988 with your Cruise missiles over the Hermuz straights, killing all of its 290 passengers, among them 66 children. Does your blood have a value and the blood of Muslims not?"

• "Our religion is a religion of fear and terror to the enemies of God: the Jews, Christians, and pagans. With God's wiling, we are terrorists to the bone. So, many thanks to God."

• "You will be greatly defeated in Afghanistan and Iraq and that America will fall, politically, militarily, and economically. Your end is very near and your fall will be just as the fall of the towers on the blessed 9/11 day."

Museum reveals engraving hidden in Lincoln watch 03/10/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 10:23pm]
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