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The Secret Message Inside Lincoln's Pocket Watch

Before Abraham Lincoln became President, he was a successful lawyer in Illinois. As he came up in the world, he bought an 18-carat gold pocket watch from a jeweler named George Chatterton.

In the years that followed, a repairman would leave a secret message inside...

This photo from the Smithsonian Museum shows the back of the gold pocket watch.
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Here we see the magnificent pocket watch opened.
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Lincoln was elected President in November, 1860, and six months later the Civil War would break out. During that time, Lincoln's watch was in the hands of M.W. Galt & Co. in Washington, D.C. for repair. Watchmaker Jonathan Dillon unscrewed the dial and engraved a message directly on the casing. This photo below shows a close-up of the message.
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In 1906, when Mr. Dillon was 84 years old, he mentioned that he inscribed a message in the watch, but it wasn't until 2009 when Dillon's great-great-grandson contacted the museum with the story. They agreed to open the watch and they found the following message:

"Jonathan Dillon, April 13-1861. Fort Sumpter was attacked by the rebels on the above date. J Dillon, April 13-1861 Washington. thank God we have a government."

This was a note in support of Lincoln and the Union, but a later repairman etched "Jeff Davis" in 1864 as a counter-statement to the one Dillon left.

In this May 16, 1861 photo you can see Lincoln with the pocket watch. He never knew the messages it held inside.
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H/T Oldphotoarchive

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