Abraham Lincoln's Watch Bears Secret Message

04/13/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A gold watch owned by Abraham Lincoln bears a message marking the start of the U.S. Civil War, but the president never knew of the "secret" inscription uncovered on Tuesday at the National Museum of American History.

The engraving, by watchmaker Jonathan Dillon, is dated April 13, 1861, and reads in part: "Fort Sumpter was attacked by the rebels" and "thank God we have a government."

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