Abraham Lincoln is generally considered the greatest American President. He's placed above all others because of the challenges he faced during his presidency, and the wisdom and leadership he demonstrated in response to those challenges. But one thing he generally isn't remembered for is the importance he placed on his dreams. Throughout his life, and often during his Presidency, he discussed his dreams with those around him. He did not discriminate about who he shared these discussions with, and spoke about his dreams to his wife, his friends, his cabinet members, and even the generals of the Union Army.
Lincoln often began his cabinet meetings with discussions of his dreams from the previous night. His captive audience viewed this as an eccentric aspect of his folksy manner. His generals also had no choice but to tolerate his sharing. On several occasions, he informed Ulysses S. Grant(who himself would one day be President) that good news was coming from the battlefields because the night previous he had dreamed about a ship steaming through the water at high speeds, and that reoccurring dream often was the harbinger of good news.
It is two of the last dreams of Lincoln's life that I've always found the most fascinating. The first was told to his cabinet. Lincoln reported that during his life he had often dreamed of being on a Clipper ship out at sea on a journey between two lands. Progress had always been hard to measure because the ship had always been on the sea with no land in sight. But several days before he died, he excitedly announced that in the dream of the night before the ship had reached land. The second dream was told to his wife and a couple of friends three days before his death. One of whom, Ward Hill Lamon spoke of it frequently after his death.
"About ten days ago, I retired very late. I had been up waiting for important dispatches from the front. I could not have been long in bed when I fell into a slumber, for I was weary. I soon began to dream. There seemed to be a death-like stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I went from room to room; no living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds of distress met me as I passed along. I saw light in all the rooms; every object was familiar to me; but where were all the people who were grieving as if their hearts would break? I was puzzled and alarmed. What could be the meaning of all this? Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. 'Who is dead in the White House?' I demanded of one of the soldiers, 'The President,' was his answer; 'he was killed by an assassin.' Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which woke me from my dream. I slept no more that night; and although it was only a dream, I have been strangely annoyed by it ever since."