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Lincoln watch contains secret message

An inscription inside a watch owned by President Abraham Lincoln is seen after the watch was opened in Washington March 10, 2009. According to the National Museum of American History, the actual engraving reads Jonathan Dillon April 13-1861 Fort Sumpter was attacked by the rebels on the above date J Dillon April 13-1861 Washington thank God we have a government Jonth Dillon. National Museum of American history / Handout
An inscription inside a watch owned by President Abraham Lincoln is seen after the watch was opened in Washington March 10, 2009. According to the National Museum of American History, the actual engraving reads "Jonathan Dillon April 13-1861 Fort Sumpter was attacked by the rebels on the above date J Dillon April 13-1861 Washington thank God we have a government Jonth Dillon." National Museum of American history / Handout

WASHINGTON, March 11 (UPI) -- A rumor that the inner workings of Abraham Lincoln's pocket watch contained a secret message has been confirmed by officials at a Washington museum.

The National Museum of American History had the watch opened and found a message left by an Irish immigrant who was repairing the timepiece for Lincoln when the Civil War broke out, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

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The watchmaker, Jonathan Dillon, etched his name, the date and his reaction to the attack on Fort Sumter in South Carolina.

He wrote: "The first gun is fired. Slavery is dead. Thank God we have a President who at least will try."

His message was split into three difference sections in order to get around the timepiece's gears.

The museum decided to open the watch Tuesday after Dillon's great-great grandson, Doug Stiles, told officials that relatives in Ireland found a letter from Dillon confirming he placed a message in the watch.

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