• Inside the Lincoln Sitting Room

    Lincoln Home

    National Historic Site Illinois

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  • Visitor Parking Lot Closed on October 1

    Be advised that the Lincoln Home visitor parking lot will be closed on Wednesday, October 1, for maintenance. There are a number of parking alternatives nearby including, metered street parking and parking garages. Call 217-391-3221 for suggestions.

William Wallace "Willie" Lincoln

The third child of Mary and Abraham Lincoln, Willie, was born on December 21, 1850, in the family home in Springfield. He was named for his Uncle William Wallace, who married Mary Todd Lincoln's sister Frances. Willie was described as being amiable, cheerful, mature for his age, and the son who was the most popular with his playmates. His mother said that Willie "was a very beautiful boy, with a most spiritual expression of face." However, the use of the word "spiritual" here does not mean that he was not ready to join his younger brother Tad in pranks and mischief whenever the occasion presented itself.

Willie wrote his only lines about his father, in a letter to a friend named Henry Remann. In the note, the child touchingly described a trip the two were sharing to Chicago, where Lincoln was appearing in a legal case. This is how life with his father at the Tremont House appeared to a wide-eyed William Wallace Lincoln on 3 June 1859.

"This town is a very beautiful place. Me and father went to two theatres the other night. Me and father have a nice little room to ourselves. We have two little pitcher[s] on a washstand. The smallest one for me the largest one for father. We have two little towels on top of both pitchers. The smallest one for me, the largest one for father. We have two little beds in the room. The smallest one for me, the largest one for father. We have two little wash basin[s]. The smallest one for me, the largest one for father. The weather is very very fine here in this town. Was this exhibition on Wednesday before last."

Willie died in the White House on February 20, 1862, at the age of 11, while his father was President. His death was a devastating blow to his parents, and it cast a dark shadow over the remaining years of Lincoln's Presidency, already made tragic by the Civil War.

The Willie letter is from Lincoln as I Knew Him, by Harold Holzer.

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Did You Know?

Election Flag, 1864

Lincoln insisted on having the 1864 election in the midst of war. "You can not have free government without elections...if the rebellion could force us to forgo a national election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us." Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Illinois