• Inside the Lincoln Sitting Room

    Lincoln Home

    National Historic Site Illinois

Robert Lincoln

Robert Todd Lincoln, first child of Mary and Abraham, was born on August 1, 1843, in a boarding house called the Globe Tavern in Springfield. (This was before Lincoln had purchased the house on Eighth and Jackson Streets.) He was named after Mary's father, Robert Smith Todd.

As Robert grew up, it became apparent that he was of a stocky build and that he would never have the long-boned leanness of his father. When Robert was only three years old, his father wrote, "Bob is short and low' and, I expect, always will be.'"

In his boyhood years, Robert seems to have had a different personality than the rest of the family--he was more shy and reticent. He did not have the outgoing enthusiasm of the other sons and he seems to have lacked the personal magnetism of his father and the vivacious quality of his mother.

Robert was the only one of the Lincoln sons who lived into adulthood and he distinguished himself in many ways. He graduated from Harvard College in 1864. After four months at Harvard Law School, he was commissioned a captain on the staff of General Grant and was present at the surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Courthouse.

Taking up the practice of law in Chicago in 1869, he became very successful as a lawyer and businessman. In 1897 he became president of the Pullman Car Company and he also served as director for the Commonwealth Edison Company, the Chicago Telephone Company, and several other business concerns. In addition, he played a distinguished role in government, serving as Secretary of War under Presidents Garfield and Arthur. He was later appointed minister to Great Britain by President Benjamin Harrison.

Robert died at his summer home - "Hildene" - in Vermont on July 26, 1926, a few days before his eighty-third birthday.

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Potrait of Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass said Lincoln was "the first great man that I talked with in the United States freely, who in no single instance reminded me of the difference between himself and myself, of the difference of color." Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Illinois