I was digging through the basement and came across this tasty little tidbit: the “Kennedy Penny”, given to me by my grandmother ages ago (I think). It lists the supposedly “astonishing” coincidences found between the lives, deaths, assassins and seconds-in-command of the United States’ 16th and 35th presidents. Do you smell that? Smells like … a conspiracy!
While there are strange things to be found on this putatively historical document (and accompanying piece of defaced currency), none of them has anything to do with the list of small-‘f’ facts. This thing has a little of everything: numerology (with the letter-counting and year parallels), shared names, the spectre of civil rights issues and contested elections … oh, and a penny. There’s definitely a penny glued on there.
- I count eight U.S. president with seven letters in their last names. Meaningful? Doubtful.
- McKinley was shot on a Friday as well. Friday must be President Assassinatin’ Day.
- Kennedy’s election was “contested” in as far as many electors refused to vote for him because he supported civil rights. In other words, there was controversy because of Southern bigots in the Electoral College, not because of anything Kennedy did.
- Lincoln’s election was contested in as much as Southern states threatened to secede if he was elected. He won both the popular and electoral vote handily. Again, bigots.
- Two men named Johnson? What are the chances that two men with such a rare and unusual surname could rise to positions of power in a nation founded by Anglo-Saxons?
- Both Lincoln and Kennedy served in the House of Representatives, but this isn’t mentioned. Somehow, both Johnsons having been senators was deemed valuable information. The writer must have just really liked Johnsons.
- Booth was captured in a barn, not a warehouse. Sure, you could stretch the definition of “barn” to mean “pitchfork, hay and horse warehouse,” but you’d still be fudging.
- FDR was also carried on the Lincoln caisson, so there’s no special significance in its use. Fun fact: caisson is French for “dead president cart.”
- Booth’s and Oswald’s “ideas” (i.e., “shoot the damn president”), far from being unpopular, were instead quite popular in certain circles. Quite a large number of Southerners were unhappy with Mr. Lincoln for some unfathomable reason, and Kennedy was in the crosshairs of an entire nuclear superpower.
- According to Wikipedia, Booth was born on May 10, 1838, and Oswald on October 18, 1939. That’s only “100 years apart” if you squint and look at it sideways.
- But by far the best part: the penny! Why? Because Lincoln appears to be making out with a tiny John Kennedy, and that’s far creepier than any preternatural connection between the two men’s deaths. Too much fodder for time-traveling U.S. president slash fiction writers for my tastes, thank you.