Robert Todd Lincoln – ‘A Tragic Life of Abraham Lincoln’s first son’

In the memory of U.S. 16th President Mr. Abraham Lincoln and his children – “Life through the eyes of Abraham Lincoln’s first son Robert Todd Lincoln”.

Death of 16th U.S. President children.
Robert Todd Lincoln

Now we all know that life through the eyes of a child might be magical. But, have we ever wondered about how life goes on from other people’s perspective who’s had gone through hard times.

I guess most of you’ve surpassed a tough situation already. While I respect you for being strong, I wanted to provide you a certain notion about how Robert went through the misery of losing all his brothers, untimely.

Unfolding The Legacy of Robert Todd Lincoln

A tragic figure, Robert Todd Lincoln did not become a true predecessor like his father. Todd had very little in common with the 16th president of the United States.

He could’ve forged being like dad, but he remained true, admitting that he doesn’t count near Abraham Lincoln.

“No one wanted me for Secretary of War… For a minister to England… For the president of the Pullman Company; they wanted Abraham Lincoln’s son.” – Robert Lincoln

Despite being an aloof lawyer, and cold-hearted businessmen, he always set forth accepting all the appointments to become a wealthy gentleman.

It’s hard for me to believe that the man like Robert, who acted as the Secretary of War, got honored with The Lincoln Sea, that lays far from the shores of Canada and Greenland

Adolphus Greely declared the name after Todd during the 1881-1884 Arctic Expedition.

Before we dig further into the tragic history of Abraham Lincoln’s son, let’s take a quick glance at his early life and childhood.

Robert Todd Lincoln Biography: A Flashback to his Childhood

One of the saddening truth is Robert became the only one to live adulthood out of four children of father Abraham.

Robert Todd Lincoln Early Life, Education and Childhood
When Robert Todd Lincoln was young.

Moving back to the time, Robert Todd Lincoln was born on August 1, 1843, in Springfield, Illinois, the United States of America.

The first son of Abraham and his wife Mary Todd Lincoln was named after his maternal grandfather Robert Smith Todd.

Abraham was a well known public figure by the time of his child’s birth, who’d previously served Illinois state legislature being a member for four terms.


Abraham’s second son Edward Baker Lincoln (born. March 10, 1846, in Springfield, IL), died on February 1, 1850, just ten months before the birth of his kid brother.

Similarly, Roberts’ baby brother William Wallace Lincoln (born. December 21, 1850, Springfield, IL), passed away at the age of 11 in 1862.

Honestly, what a tragic life Robert has had to bore which does not end here. His third sibling Tad Lincoln had similar fate like Ed & William, which I’ve mentioned below.


Unlike his father, Robert grew up to be very poor in both his education and political administration. However, the Lincoln junior was kind of a man who never gave up on anything. Well, that counts one similarity between him and his father.

As a matter of fact, he failed fifteen out of 16 subjects in the entrance examination of Harvard college.

But he didn’t lose hope there and enrolled to take preparation classes at Phillips Exeter Academy in 1860, where he did absolutely good.

That shaped his career towards Harvard back again from where he actually graduated in 1864 with Bachelor in Arts.

After that, Robert followed his father’s footsteps to become a lawyer. So, he attended Harvard Law School from September 1864 till January 1865.

After four months of attending Harvard Law School, Robert left when he was commissioned a captain in the U.S. Army and assigned to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s staff.

Later in 1893, Lincoln was awarded the honorary degree of LL.D by Harvard.

How did he die? What year did he die?
After Harvard Law School, Robert left when he was commissioned a captain in the U.S. Army

Edwin Booth saved Robert’s Life While His Brother Assassinated Abraham

Robert Lincoln was saved from potentially serious injury by Edwin Booth, whose brother, John Wilkes Booth, was the assassin of Robert’s dad.

The incident happened on a railway platform at Jersey City, NJ. Even though the precise date of the episode is unclear, but it is believed to have occurred in late 1863 or early 1864. And yes, it was before John Booth’s assassination of President Lincoln on April 14, 1865.

After a couple of months, while working as an officer to the team of General Ulysses S. Grant, Robert Lincoln revises the incident to Colonel Adam Badeau.

Adam, who was also a friend to Edwin, passes a message of heroism to Booth. Edwin Booth did not know that the man whose life he’d saved, happens to be the son of U.S. President.

The episode was thought to have been of comfort to Edwin Booth after his brother’s assassination of their president.

Additionally, President Ulysses S. Grant even sent a letter of appreciation because of his actions to Edwin Booth.

Robert’s Wife, Children & Family Tree

Robert settled in Chicago after his father’s assassination, comforting his mother and brother Tad. In the following years, he completed his legal education and got admitted to the bar in 1867.

Robert Todd Lincoln Family Tree, Father, Mother, Siblings, Children, Grand Children
Family Tree of Robert

On September 24, 1868, Robert Todd Lincoln married his long-time girlfriend, Mary Harlan. Mary was the daughter of Iowa Senator James Harlan and his wife Ann Eliza Peck.

Eventually on October 15, 1869, Mary and Robert became the father of their first daughter Mary “Mamie” Lincoln (Isham).

They relished quite a blissful moment until his brother Tod’s unexpected demise, three years after nuptials.

Two years later in 1873, Robert became a proud father of his son Abraham Lincoln II, and a daughter Jesse Harlan Lincoln in 1875. But his son Abraham (nicknamed Jack), died suddenly due to Sepsis on March 5, 1890, in London, England at the age of 16.

Weeks after Jack’s death, Robert wrote to his cousin Charles Edwards,

“We had a long & most anxious struggle and at times had hopes of saving our boy. It would have been done if it had depended only on his own marvelous pluck & patience now that the end has come, there is a great blank in our future lives & an affliction not to be measured.”

Following the family tree, Robert first daughter married Charles Bradley Isham in 1891 and had one son Lincoln Isham (1892–1971) who died without having children.

On Jessie’s side, she shared two children Mary Lincoln Beckwith (“Peggy” 1898–1975) and Robert (“Bud”) Todd Lincoln Beckwith (1904–1985). Unfortunately, these kids neither had a privilege to become parents.

Robert’s grandson Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith, who is the last person of direct Lincoln lineage, died in 1985.

Robert Todd Lincoln’s Death

On July 26, 1926, Robert Todd Lincoln died in his Vermont home in Hildene, just a week before this 83rd birthday.

A physician noted that Robert Lincoln’s cause of death as a “cerebral hemorrhage induced by arteriosclerosis”

Later, Robert was interred in Arlington National Cemetery sarcophagus designed by the sculptor James Earle Fraser.

Buried beside his wife, Mary, and their son, Abraham II.

You May Like: Sheila Raye Charles: Inspiring Life Story of Ray Charles’ Daughter


Wikimedia‘ – The above images are taken from Wikimedia.

Wikiwand‘ – His political life and service as the Secretary of War.

That’s all about Robert. His political times are yet unfinished. Make sure to mail if you’ve any queries.


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