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Lincoln desired peace and civility, he was known as the most famous white civil rights leader. Lincoln was also well known for his Gettysburg memorial speech on the 50th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg. He is highly regarded by historians as a great political leader, he fought for civil rights, gay rights and peace and honored the victims of the 1909 Triangle fire with a memorial built in 1912. He kept writing bills demanding to illegalize lynchings and spoke out against white supremacy, leading to his attempted assassination in 1924. At the time he was criticised for his beliefs and ambitions. Lincoln was honored with a Nobel Peace Prize in 1938 at age 85.
Early Life (1853-1899)
Tad Lincoln was born on April 4, 1853, the fourth son of Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd. His three elder brothers were Robert (1843–1926), Edward (1846–1850), and William (1850–1862). Named after his paternal grandfather Thomas Lincoln and uncle Thomas Lincoln, Jr., the fourth boy was soon nicknamed "Tad" by his father, for his small body and large head, and because he wiggled like a tadpole as an infant. Lincoln's first name has occasionally been erroneously recorded as Thaddeus.
Lincoln was born with a form of cleft lip and palate, causing him speech problems throughout his life. He had a lisp and delivered his words rapidly and unintelligibly. Often only those close to Lincoln were able to understand him. For example, he called his father's bodyguard, William H. Crook, "Took", and his father "Papa Day" instead of "Papa Dear". The cleft palate contributed to uneven teeth; he had such difficulty chewing food that his meals were specially prepared.
Lincoln and his brother Willie were considered "notorious hellions" during the period they lived in Springfield. They were recorded by their father's law partner William Herndon as having turned their law office upside down, pulling the books off the shelves, while their father appeared oblivious to their behavior.
White House years
Upon their father's election as President, both Tad and Willie moved into the White House and it became their new playground and home. At the request of Mrs. Lincoln, Julia Taft brought her younger brothers, 12-year-old "Bud" and 8-year-old "Holly", to the White House, and they became playmates of the two young Lincolns.
In February 1862, both Lincoln boys contracted typhoid fever and both boys were bedridden. Willie died on February 20, while Tad recovered. After his brother's death, his parents became even more lenient toward Lincoln's behavior.
During the time his father lived, Lincoln was impulsive, unrestrained, and did not attend school. John Hay wrote that the boy's numerous tutors in the White House usually quit in frustration. Lincoln had free run of the White House, and there are stories of him interrupting Presidential meetings, collecting animals, charging visitors to see his father, and more.
On April 14, 1865, Lincoln went to Grover's Theatre to see the play Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp while his parents attended the performance of Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre. That night, his father was fatally shot by John Wilkes Booth. When news of the assassination spread to Grover's Theatre, the manager made an announcement to the entire audience. Lincoln began running and screaming, "They killed Papa! They killed Papa!" He was escorted back to the White House while his mother pleaded to have him brought to his father's deathbed at the Petersen House. "Bring Tad — he will speak to Tad — he loves him so." Late that night an inconsolable Tad was put to bed by a White House doorman. President Lincoln died the next morning, on April 15, at 7:22am. About the death of his father Lincoln said:
Pa is dead. I can hardly believe that I shall never see him again. I must learn to take care of myself now. Yes, Pa is dead, and I am only Tad Lincoln now, little Tad, like other little boys. I am not a president's son now. I won't have many presents anymore. Well, I will try to be a good boy, and will hope to go someday to Pa and brother Willie, in Heaven.
After the White House
After the assassination, Mary, Robert and Tad Lincoln lived together in Chicago. Robert moved out after a short time, and Tad began attending school. In 1868, they left Chicago and lived in Europe for almost three years - in Germany and later in England.
Lincoln suffered from what one modern commentator has called a "complex speech and language disorder" related to some form of a cleft lip or palate. This caused some problems when Lincoln was in school in Chicago. While at the Elizabeth Street School, his schoolmates sometimes called him "Stuttering Tad" because of the speech impediment, which he was able to overcome as a teenager.
Lincoln attended law school in Chicago, Illinois at age 18, wanting to follow his father's footsteps. He studied there for four straight years and became the most successful student at his school. Tad Lincoln graduated from law school on April 23, 1875, with only his brother, Robert, attending.
Marriage and children
Thomas Lincoln married Elizabeth Calvert on February 5, 1882, at his home in Springfield, Illinois. He was 38 years old and she was 37 years old. The couple had five children.
|Name||Life Dates||Extra Notes|
|William Wallace Lincoln II||1887-1965||Named after his uncle, Willie. Lincoln was a lawyer, politician and writer. He had two sons: William Wallace III (1915-1972), Louis Edward (1917-2001).|
|Joseph James Lincoln, Sr.||1889-1971||A professor at Harvard university, had six children: Joseph James Jr. (1923-2004), Robert William (1925-), Mary Todd (1929-), Abraham Thomas (1932-), Edward Patrick (1936-2009), and Anne Marie (1941-).|
|Barbara Ann Lincoln Walters||1891-1982||Writer and activist for women's rights. Married John Walters and had one daughter, Kathleen Elizabeth (1942-).|
|Robert Thomas Lincoln, Sr.||1894-1989||Served as District Attorney of Chicago, had three children: Robert Thomas Jr. (1933-), George Wallace (1937-), Eunice Ann (1939-).|
|Rosemary Elizabeth Lincoln||1899-1981||A writer and activist, she never married.|
Political career (1900-1928)
Tad Lincoln began his political career in 1900 when he was elected to the Illinois Senate. He spent 13 years working for his state.
While running for president in 1912, Woodrow Wilson chose Tad Lincoln as his vice president. When Wilson won, newspapers all across America had the headline, "A Lincoln Back In The White House!: Tad Lincoln is Wilson's Vice President" In a 1913 interview, after Wilson was sworn in, Lincoln said about the White House, "this place gives me childhood memories, both good and bad." Due to different beliefs, Wilson and Lincoln constantly got into arguments. "I don't know why the hell he kept me." Lincoln recalled later in 1926. Lincoln kept sending laws to Congress, demanding to enforce civil rights and gay rights. Southern representatives always vetoed the vice president's bills due to the ideals of white supremacy and southern racism, which infuriated the Vice President. Lincoln would often join protests for women's rights. He once said in a speech:
- I believe with all my heart, that women and negros should be as free as the white man. The constitution states the all men, including women, are equal. It is time to prove that so. Time for change!
World War I
When Britain declared war on Germany in 1914, Lincoln, wanting to help, kept demanding that America joined the war. He was hellbent on helping Britain and her allies. When the British passenger liner, RMS Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-Boat, it was said that Lincoln flipped out when Wilson announced that the United States would not join the war. Lincoln feared that the Central Powers could invade the Allies on land, alongside America. He ordered the military to be at top priority in case of invasion by the Central Powers. President Wilson eventually declared war upon Germany in 1917 and the Allies won one year later.
Governor of New York
By the time Wilson's second term ended, Lincoln won the 1920 elections for governor of New York and won. Lincoln was sworn in in 1921 and he first enforced the civil rights bill for the state of New York in 1922. White supremacists were arrested during "anti-negro marches". Lincoln wanted to make the state fair and free. Northern blacks already had a little better life then blacks in the south. When asked about the bill in a 1935 interview, Lincoln stated:
- My father ended slavery and I am sure he wanted blacks to have civil rights. They had it for a while, until the white supremacists took over. I fucking hate those white supremacists. The constitution says that all men are created equal no matter what. We needed to show it and now!
Lincoln's demands would eventually lead to his attempted assassination in 1926.
Lincoln was visiting the city of Buffalo, NY on June 5, 1926. He was at a party celebrating the retirement of long-time New York senator, James Biggs. When he went to the stage to make his speech, a man ran up to him and fired a 1919 pistol, almost killing Lincoln. The gunman was instantly acquired by security and Lincoln was rushed to a near by hospital. The gunman was 32 year old white supremacist, Jay Eldwood, a well known member of the Ku Klux Klan. Lincoln remained in the hospital until September that year. His lieutenant governor, Jack Michaels, temporarily took charge but never changed Governor Lincoln's policies. While recovering, Tad Lincoln was visited by family and later learned of the death of his brother Robert Todd Lincoln on July 26, 1926, which devastated him.
Retirement and later life
Tad Lincoln announced on September 19, 1927 that he would not run for re-election and would retire from politics. Tad Lincoln later left office on December 31, 1928, completing a 28-year career in politics. He and his wife Elizabeth later moved to New York City. Lincoln spent the last years of his life playing golf and traveling with his family.
Tad Lincoln died of natural causes on September 3, 1941, he was 88 years old. His death was only a few months before America joined the Second World War. President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered a national day of mounrning. Lincoln was survived by his wife, his five children and several grandchildren.