Abe Lincoln History

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- 5 Facts
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- John Wilkes Booth
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- Assassination Timeline
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- Mary Todd Lincoln
- Robert Todd Lincoln
- Tad Lincoln
- Willie Lincoln


Tad Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln reading to his son Tad Lincoln
Tad Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln's 4th and Youngest Son
Name: Thomas Lincoln III
Nickname: Tad
April 4, 1853, Springfield, IL
Died: July 15, 1871, Chicago, IL
Siblings: Robert Todd Lincoln, William Wallace Lincoln, Edward Baker Lincoln
Parents: Mary Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln
Uncles: Thomas Lincoln
Grandparents: Nancy Lincoln, Thomas Lincoln, Robert Smith Todd, Elizabeth Parker
  • Tad Lincoln Fun Fact
    He was Abraham Lincolns fourth and youngest son and died at the young age of 18.
Thomas "Tad" Lincoln III was the fourth and youngest son of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. Thomas was named after his paternal grandfather, but, Abraham gave the nickname "Tad", who found him "as wiggly as a tadpole" when he was a baby. Lincoln was known to be impulsive and unrestrained, and he did not attend school during his father's lifetime.

Tad had a speech impediment, and likely had a learning disability. This seemed to endear him to his parents all the more. Tad was inventive in thinking up mischief and he became rather famous for his pranks, which he often carried out with the help of his older brother Willie. He had free run of the White House, and there are stories of him interrupting Presidential meetings, collecting animals, and charging visitors to see his father.

Tad as he grew up proved to be a handful. Tad didn’t live under many rules at all, at least up until the time he left the White House. In an age where children were to be seen and not heard, Lincoln’s parental philosophy was "kids will be kids."
The Famous Father-Son Portrait

Within a year after moving into the White House, Willie died. Mr. Lincoln always said it was one of the most difficult things he'd ever experienced. This drew Tad all the closer to the Lincolns and made them all the more lenient with him. Tad surely was the little devil Herdon said he was, and yet, he obviously had his endearing moments.

One of those moments was captured in the Brady studio and the picture has since become one of the most popular father-son portraits ever. I’m sure you’re quite familiar with the picture, which was taken in February, 1864. Lincoln is seated and Tad is standing at his side. They are both reviewing a book.

The U.S. Postal Service used this picture on the 20 cent stamp issued October 16, 1984, titled, "A Nation of Readers."


Tad not only tended to speak very rapidly, but had trouble pronouncing his words clearly. As a result of a birth defect he had a partially cleft palate. This caused him to lisp and was a part of the problem. He was often very frustrated with his inability to make himself understood. The President, however, had no difficulty understanding Tad. He also was very sympathetic to the boy's frustrations. His mother at first took him to see a dentist. The dentist prescribed a painful steel device intended to rearrange his teeth. Not only was the devise painful, but it made virtually impossible for Tad to be understood when he spoke. Finally unable to bear Tad's complaints, Mrs Lincoln decided to engage an elocution instructor. [R.T. Lincoln letter, January 17, 1868.] Had the President been alive, he probably would not have permitted it.


He died at the age of 18 on July 15, 1871, in Chicago about six years after the assassination of his father. His death was a great loss to his mother, because she had depended upon him for love, companionship, and understanding after Abraham's death.

The Chicago Tribune published an account of Tad’s death the next day. It said, in part:

At 7:30 on yesterday (Saturday) morning Tad Lincoln died at the Clifton House on Wabash Avenue, where he had been staying since his return from Europe. The cause of his death was dropsy of the chest. The first symptoms showed themselves while he was abroad, but it was not until his return, the middle of May, that his condition became alarming. ...He was convalescent at one time, but he got up one night slightly clad and swooned. This was followed by a relapse, after which he grew steadily worse.

Funeral services were held for Lincoln in his brother Robert's home in Chicago. His body was transported to Springfield and buried in the Lincoln Tomb at Oak Ridge Cemetery, alongside his father and two of his brothers. Robert accompanied the casket on the train, but Mary was too distraught to make the trip.

Tab Lincoln Pictures

Sources used for information on Tad Lincoln



Abe Lincoln History