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Meet Robert Todd Lincoln, The Estranged Son Of The 16th President Who Had His Mother Committed

Yet today his ill-fated younger brothers Willie and Tad are referenced far more charitably by authors. Some have accused Robert of suppressing and sometimes destroying his family papers.

Others have summarily condemned him for consigning his mother to a mental institution. He witnessed firsthand the transformation of the United States from a rural agrarian society to a modern industrial nation.

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Podcast Episode Death and Robert Todd Lincoln - Futility Closet

Born in at a rustic tavern without indoor plumbing or electricity in Springfield, Ill. One could argue that Mary was closer to Robert than she was to her own husband during those early years.


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He matured into a quiet, private man who seemed somewhat shy. As the war ground on, Robert argued with his parents that he should abandon his studies for the battlefield. Robert graduated in and began studying at Harvard Law School. But in early the president secured him a position as a captain on Lt. Ulysses S. Isham and Lincoln undertook cases ranging from local issues up to the U.

An idler's miscellany of compendious amusements

Lincoln he never used his middle name, only his middle initial became its president in In he was named chairman of the board. By the beginning of the 20th century, he was regarded as a captain of American industry, ranking among notables such as J. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie and J. Robert also took an interest in politics, actively supporting Republican causes in Illinois.


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After James A. Garfield was elected president in , he appointed Lincoln as his secretary of war. Bob reportedly handled his duties well, though his entrance onto the national stage was not met with universal approval.

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Arthur after Garfield was assassinated. Robert was clearly a quintessential Victorian-era gentleman who believed in the tenets of manly honor, duty and privacy. Robert was shy, reserved and fundamentally kind, but he labored under the shadow of his famous and more gregarious father. William O. This was a difficult position for him, especially as he came more and more to dislike the publicity, Even at this early date a familiar popular notion of this presidential son was beginning to form.

If he held himself aloof from the prying gaze of the public, he was haughty and snobbish; if he gave any appearance of capitalizing on his position as the son of the Chief Executive, he was damned for that. He is sick of Washington and glad to get back to his college. In when I was sixteen and when he was beginning to devote himself more to practice in his own neighborhood, and when I would have both the inclination and the means of gratifying my desire to become better acquainted with the history of his struggles, I went to New Hampshire to school and afterward to Harvard College, and he became President.

Henceforth any great intimacy between us became impossible. I scarcely even had ten minutes quiet talk with him during his Presidency, on account of his constant devotion to business. He and his parents battled over his desire to serve in the Army. Robert would come home every few months, bringing new joy to the family circle.

The Life of Robert T. Lincoln

He was very anxious to quit school and enter the army, but the move was sternly opposed by his mother. His services are not required in the field, and the sacrifice would be a needless one.


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  • You should take a liberal instead of a selfish view of the question, mother. I am so frightened he may never come back to us!

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    Robert had suffered one loss already — in the summer of when the daughter of the Prussian minister to Washington got married. Lee, Mr. I am glad the war is over at last. The war is now closed, and we soon will live in peace with the brave man that have been fighting against us.

    I trust that the era of good feeling has returned with the war, and henceforth we shall live in peace.

    Giant in the Shadows The Life of Robert T Lincoln

    Now listen to me, Robert: you must lay aside your uniform, and return to college.