Sunday, September 12, 2010

Willie Lincoln

William Wallace (1850-1862) was his father's favorite. Abraham and Mary Lincoln had already lost one child, Edward Baker (1846-1850), by the time he was born. Willie and his father were often seen hand in hand, and the 2 took a trip to Chicago that the boy described in a letter to a friend (2nd image). Lincoln never had much time to bond with his oldest son Robert Todd (1843-1926), but felt that Willie had a mind like his own. The child was considered intelligent, mature, generous, and kind-hearted by those who knew him, although he and his younger brother Tad (Thomas Lincoln, 1853-1871) did have a mischievous streak, and were allowed to have the run of Lincoln's law office and the White House. The boys (pictured in the 2nd image with their uncle Lockwood Todd in 1861) were encouraged to talk, dance, and recite verse. Willie even penned his own poem upon the death of family friend Col. Edward D. Baker (1811-1861) that read in part:
His voice is silent in the hall,
Which oft his presence grac’d.
No more he’ll hear the loud acclaim
Which rang from place to place.

Soon, those words were true of Willie himself, who was eulogized on February 24, 1862:
"The beloved youth, whose death we now and here lament, was a child of bright intelligence and of peculiar promise. He possessed many excellent qualities of mind and heart, which greatly endeared him, not only to the family circle of which he was a member, but to his youthful companions, and to all his acquaintances and friends. His mind was active, inquisitive, and conscientious; his disposition was amiable and affectionate; his impulses were kind and generous; and his words and manners were gentle and attractive. It is easy to see how a child, thus endowed, would, in the course of eleven years, entwine himself around the hearts of those who knew him best."
Both parents were devastated when they lost Willie to typhoid fever at the age of 13. Mary was unable to attend his funeral and withdrew from the public for months. The president wept and often dreamed about his son. A notice of Willie's death in Harper's Weekly said simply that "Mr. Lincoln feels his loss very deeply." That was an understatement. While Willie's mother looked beyond the grave to spiritualism for comfort, his father had his embalmed body exhumed twice so he could look at and hold him again.

1 comment:

  1. Sad for any family to Endure, much less the President that had lost one son prior to Willie, God Bless Them in their Pain and Suffering.


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