Spiritualism, the belief in the ability to speak with the dead, started as a practical joke in 1848 when two teenage girls in upstate New York realized they could produce seemingly paranormal noises by cracking their toe knuckles, of all things. The Fox sisters delighted in their gullible mother's response, and soon convinced her these "rapping" sounds were actually produced by a murdered vagabond buried on their property. It was, the girls said, his form of communication - conversations that only they had the power to initiate.
Within two decades, the organized Spiritualism movement was a worldwide phenomenon - and it wasn't just exploitable housewives who took the bait. Men and women from all walks of life, levels of education, and strata of society fell under its spell - political leaders among them.
There were, of course, presidents who didn't believe in this supernatural mumbo jumbo. But, to paraphrase the old cliché, psychics aren't known for letting the facts get in the way of a good story.
In this episode I tell you the surprising - sometimes rocky - history of the unpredictable relationships between politicians and psychics.
For more information about Stephanie Hoover Has That Story, or to listen to more episodes, visit this page.
And, to read Stephanie's book about Nelson and Jennie Holmes and their fraudulent medium Katie, click here.