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Similarities Between Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.)

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.

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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.)”

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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Similarities Between Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 10, 2023, from
“Similarities Between Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2022,
Similarities Between Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 10 Dec. 2023].
Similarities Between Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 15 [cited 2023 Dec 10]. Available from:
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