Jonathan Dillon was employed at a jewelry shop near the White House in 1861. According to family legend, he was working on President Lincoln's pocket watch at the moment he heard that Fort Sumter had been attacked.
Dillon told his family (and, four decades later, a reporter for the New York Times) that he opened the watch's inner workings, etched his name, the date and a message for the ages: "The first gun is fired. Slavery is dead. Thank God we have a President who at least will try."Yesterday at the Smithsonian Institution, the watch was finally pried open.
He then closed it up and sent it back to the White House.
The audience, watching on a monitor, gasped.
Split into three different sections to get around the tiny gears was this razor-thin etching: "Jonathan Dillon April 13-1861. Fort Sumpter [sic] was attacked by the rebels on the above date thank God we have a government." He added "Washington" and his name again. [Link]