Robert Todd Lincoln



Robert Todd Lincoln, the eldest son of President Abraham Lincoln, was born August 1, 1843. He was twenty-one years old when his father was assassinated. 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 Ulysses S. Grant and was present at the surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Courthouse.


In 1867, he was admitted to the Illinois bar, thus beginning a prosperous law practice.In 1877, he turned down an offer by President Rutherford B. Hayes to appoint him assistant secretary of state. In 1881, he accepted President James Garfield's appointment as secretary of war, serving until 1885. In 1889, President Benjamin Harrison appointed him minister to England, and he spent the next four years in that position. From 1897 to 1911, he was president of the Pullman Company.


Throughout his lifetime, Robert was very protective of his fatherís name and reputation. He controlled his fatherís presidential papers and allowed only John Hay and John G. Nicolay, authors of Abraham Lincoln: A History (1890), to view them. The book was published only after Robertís approval. Robert later willed the Lincoln papers to the Library of Congress, stipulating that they could not be opened until twenty-one years after his death.


Robert lived long enough to attend the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., in 1922. He died in 1926 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


Young Robert Todd Lincoln

Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division