Colburn, Nettie

Colburn, Nettie (Mrs. William Porter Maynard) (d. 1892)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Nettie Colburn Maynard was an American inspirational speaker held in high esteem by Abraham Lincoln. As a teenage girl in the winter of 1862, she visited Washington to see her brother in the Federal Army hospital. While in the capital, she went to a séance that was also attended by Lincoln. During the séance, she went into spontaneous trance and lectured the President on the necessity for emancipation. She spoke to him for almost an hour. When she came out of her trance she was frightened and embarrassed to see to whom she had been speaking. Lincoln placed his hand on her head and said, “My child, you possess a very singular gift, but that it is of God I have no doubt. I thank you for coming here tonight. It is more important than perhaps anyone present can understand.” The same thing happened two days later, when both Nettie Colburn and Lincoln and his wife were at another séance. Once again the young girl went into a spontaneous trance and once again she lectured the president about the necessity of freeing the slaves. She also urged him to visit the camps to boost the morale of the army. Colonel Simon F. Case, a lobbyist for railroad interests, was also present and later reported, “President Lincoln was convinced as to the course he should pursue; the command coming from the all-seeing Spirit through the instrumentality of the angel world was not to be overlooked … thus the prediction of the medium was verified.”

Nettie Colburn, in later life, gave many séances for Lincoln and gave messages concerning the welfare of the nation, especially in regard to the Civil War. She wrote a book, Was Abraham Lincoln a Spiritualist? published in 1891.


Awtry-Smith, Marilyn: “They” Paved the Way. New

York: Spiritualism & More, nd
Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: The History of Spiritualism. New York: Doran, 1926
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