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Museum reveals engraving hidden in Lincoln watch

Dickinson,North Dakota 58602
The Dickinson Press
Museum reveals engraving hidden in Lincoln watch
Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

WASHINGTON (AP) -- 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.

On Tuesday at the National Museum of American History, a watchmaker used tiny tools to open the pocket watch and reveal the message left during repairs in 1861.

The first line says: "April 13 - 1861. Fort (sic) Sumpter was attacked by the rebels on the above date. J. Dillon." A second line reads, in part: "Thank God we have a government."

Watchmaker Jonathan Dillon's story circulated among his family and friends, eventually reaching a New York Times reporter. In a 1906 article in the paper, Dillon said he was moved to engrave a message after the first shots of the Civil War were fired in South Carolina.