Robert Todd Lincoln (August 1, 1843 - July 26, 1926) was an American lawyer and politician, and the first son of President Abraham Lincoln and Mary Lincoln. He was the only one of Lincoln's four sons to live past his teenage years.
During the American Civil War, he joined the Union Army, but not until 1865. He had desired to join the army earlier but his mother prevented his doing so, much to the embarrassment of his father. He was commissioned a Captain and was made an aide-de-camp to General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant, travelling with the Army of the Potomac. This non-combatant post minimized Lincoln's danger of becoming a casualty.
Lincoln had a distant relationship with his great father, but admired him tremendously. He became permanently estranged from his mother in 1875 when he attempted to have her committed to a sanitarium and took control of her finances, creating something of a scandal.
From 1881-1885, Lincoln served as Secretary of War under Presidents James Garfield and Chester Arthur. He also served as Minister to the United Kingdom during Benjamin Harrison's administration. On various occasions between 1884 and 1912, Lincoln's name was mentioned as a possible candidate for President, but he denied any interest each time.
Lincoln was present or in the general area during three Presidential assassinations: those of his father in 1865, of Garfield in 1881, and of William McKinley in 1901. It is often said that he began to think he was cursed, and avoided any Presidential interaction from then on. However, this is not entirely true, as he joined both President Warren G. Harding and Chief Justice-formerly-President William Howard Taft in dedicating the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC in 1922. (Oddly enough, Harding died of a mysterious stroke the next year.)
Robert Lincoln in Southern Victory
Upon reaching adulthood, Robert Lincoln moved to Chicago, Illinois to work as an attorney for the Pullman Company. He also continued his involvement in the Republican Party, making no secret of his disapproval of his father's politics. Robert Lincoln allowed his father to stay with him in 1882 when the elder Lincoln convened a meeting of prominent Republicans during the Second Mexican War. On the same trip, Lincoln defected to the Socialist Party. Robert Lincoln opposed the defection and, while he continued to welcome his father at his home, he forbade him to invite Socialists into it.
- How Few Remain, pg. 123.
- Ibid., pgs. 434-436.
- Ibid., see, e.g., pgs. 509-513.
- Ibid., pg. 550.
|U.S. Secretary of War
William C. Endicott