Evelyn Lincoln

Evelyn Lincoln

Evelyn Norton was born June 25, 1909, on a farm in Polk County, Nebraska. She moved to Washington when her father, John Nathaniel Norton (1878-1960), was elected to the House of Representatives in 1927.

Evelyn received a bachelor's degree from George Washington University in 1930. While attending law school there, she met her future husband Harold Lincoln. The couple moved to New York but later returned to Washington. They were both active members of the Democratic Party.

In 1952 Evelyn Lincoln began working for Elijah Lewis Forrester (Georgia). The following year she became the personal secretary to John F. Kennedy. She held the post for the next ten years.

Lincoln later claimed that in November, 1963, Kennedy decided that because of the emerging Bobby Baker scandal he was going to drop Lyndon B. Johnson as his running mate in the 1964 election. John F. Kennedy told Lincoln that he was going to replace Johnson with Terry Sanford. In her book, Kennedy and Johnson (1968): "As Mr. Kennedy sat in the rocker in my office, his head resting on its back he placed his left leg across his right knee. He rocked slightly as he talked. In a slow pensive voice he said to me, 'You know if I am re-elected in sixty-four, I am going to spend more and more time toward making government service an honorable career. I would like to tailor the executive and legislative branches of government so that they can keep up with the tremendous strides and progress being made in other fields.' 'I am going to advocate changing some of the outmoded rules and regulations in the Congress, such as the seniority rule. To do this I will need as a running mate in sixty-four a man who believes as I do.' Mrs. Lincoln went on to write "I was fascinated by this conversation and wrote it down verbatim in my diary. Now I asked, 'Who is your choice as a running-mate?' 'He looked straight ahead, and without hesitating he replied, 'at this time I am thinking about Governor Terry Sanford of North Carolina. But it will not be Lyndon."

Lincoln was in the motorcade in Dallas when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Every year on the anniversary of the assassination she would go to the Arlington National Cemetery and place three long-stemmed red roses on Kennedy's grave. In 1965 she published My Twelve Years With John F. Kennedy.

In a letter written on 7th October, 1994, she wrote: "As for as the assassination is concerned it is my belief that there was a conspiracy because there were those that disliked him and felt the only way to get rid of him was to assassinate him. These five conspirators, in my opinion, were Lyndon B. Johnson, J. Edgar Hoover, the Mafia, the CIA, and the Cubans in Florida."

She was also the author of two best-selling books, My 12 Years With John F. Kennedy and Kennedy and Johnson.

Evelyn Lincoln died on 11th May, 1995, in Georgetown University Hospital of complications after surgery for cancer.

© , September 1997 - April 2014

Primary Sources

(1) Evelyn Lincoln, My Twelve Years With John F. Kennedy (1965)

This morning we arrived, as usual, slightly before eight o’clock and I was at my desk a few minutes later. But this time it was in a different office in a different building. The old familiar objects were there - the President’s padded rocking chair, his leather desk chair, the Presidential flag, the books and pictures - but they were shoved against the wall or stuffed into cartons. I couldn’t stand seeing the things he loved so much in a state of confusion, and I started searching through boxes looking for pictures of Caroline sitting solemnly in his Harvard chair. It had been taken on one of her evening visits to his office and was one of his favorite pictures. I wanted to bring it out to hide the ugly bareness of the room. I guess I wanted to reassure myself that nothing had changed.

(2) Evelyn Lincoln, Kennedy and Johnson (1968)

The first, the Bobby Baker case, came to light in September 1963 when a vending company filed a suit against Baker for not fulfilling a contract. The news and the reports that were filtering in about Bobby and his transactions were disturbing to the occupants of the White House for two reasons. First, Bobby Baker had used his connections to help swing doubtful business deals his way. Although he was no longer on Mr. Johnson's staff, he had a way of beginning a business conversation with, "Well, Lyndon told me the other day."

If you worked for a United States Senator, Democratic or Republican you knew Bobby Baker, Secretary to the Majority. His relationship with Mr. Johnson, then Majority Leader, was extremely close, so close that during the campaign in Dixie in 1960 Mr. Johnson asked him to take charge of his "Corn Ball Express."

As they crisscrossed the South they came into South Carolina, very close to Pickens, Baker's hometown. At that stop they got off the train, piled into a helicopter and flew to Pickens to do a little hand shakin' with home folks. With his arm around Bobby, Mr. Johnson said to them, "Bobby is my strong right arm. He is the last person I see at night and the first person I see in the morning."

Mr. Kennedy's high standards were now rubbing against the ragged surface of the Bobby Baker case. There were bound to be sparks-and they would fly, fairly or unfairly, at Mr. Johnson.

Senator John Williams, a Republican from Deleware, became interested in the case and started to do some investigating on his own. (Much, much later came the report about "Johnson warning the Republicans via the grapevine that if they press him too hard on Bobby Baker, some G.O.P. tax returns will be audited.") At the same time, the Department of Justice started an investigation. They both dug in more deeply. Pressures were mounting: Bobby Baker was in trouble and, October 7, 1963, he resigned.

(3) Evelyn Lincoln, Kennedy and Johnson (1968)

As Mr. Kennedy sat in the rocker in my office, his head resting on its back he placed his left leg across his right knee. He rocked slightly as he talked. In a slow pensive voice he said to me, 'You know if I am re-elected in sixty-four, I am going to spend more and more time toward making government service an honorable career. I would like to tailor the executive and legislative branches of government so that they can keep up with the tremendous strides and progress being made in other fields.' 'I am going to advocate changing some of the outmoded rules and regulations in the Congress, such as the seniority rule. To do this I will need as a running mate in sixty-four a man who believes as I do.' Mrs. Lincoln went on to write "I was fascinated by this conversation and wrote it down verbatim in my diary. Now I asked, 'Who is your choice as a running-mate?' 'He looked straight ahead, and without hesitating he replied, 'at this time I am thinking about Governor Terry Sanford of North Carolina. But it will not be Lyndon.'"

(4) Evelyn Lincoln, letter to Richard Duncan, a teacher at Northside Middle School in Roanoke (7th October, 1994)

As far as the assassination is concerned it is my belief that there was a conspiracy because there were those that disliked him and felt the only way to get rid of him was to assassinate him. These five conspirators, in my opinion, were Lyndon B. Johnson, J. Edgar Hoover, the Mafia, the CIA, and the Cubans in Florida.

(5) Mary Evertz, St Petersburg Times (11th November, 1999)

Evelyn Norton Lincoln was born on a Nebraska farm in 1910. She moved to Washington in the 1920s when her father John N. Norton was elected to Congress. She received a bachelor's degree from George Washington University in 1930. While attending law school there, she met her future husband Harold "Abe" Lincoln (no relation to the presidential Lincoln family).

The Lincolns lived in New York for a couple of years when he taught at New York University. They moved back to Washington when he was offered a government job. Mrs. Lincoln got a job on the Hill working for U.S. Rep. B.L. Forrester, D-Ga. In 1952, she recalled telling her husband that her next job would be for the next president of the United States,

"Eisenhower?" he asked.

"No, John F. Kennedy," she replied.

Mrs. Lincoln had never met the young politician from Massachusetts, but after reading a few of his press releases, she volunteered to work on his campaign for the U.S. Senate. In 1953, Kennedy asked her to join his staff. She started keeping a diary, which she worked on until Kennedy's death.

Kennedy depended on her not only to schedule his appointments but also for countless other tasks, including ordering his reading glasses and bringing them to Newport, R.I., on his wedding day to finding his tux shirt and studs when his brother Ted was getting married. She traveled with the Kennedy delegation for his historic trips to Ireland, Germany and England. She was in the Kennedy entourage when he visited Tampa on Nov. 18, 1963. She also traveled to Dallas.

It was to Mrs. Lincoln that Parkland Hospital staff handed the late President's personal effects, including his Cartier watch. It was also Mrs. Lincoln who, ordered by President Lyndon B. Johnson, cleaned out the Oval Office of all Kennedy's possessions. Mrs. Lincoln moved to the Executive Office Building next door to the White House. The files and Kennedy's personal possessions were moved to the National Archives Building in August 1964, where she continued to maintain custody of the material until it was transferred to the National Archives and Records Service in late 1965.