Volume VI, Number 1, Spring 2010 · Americas

"Lincoln’s Boys: The Legacy of an American Father and an American Family" by Robert P. Watson and Dale Berger

Robert P. Watson, Ph.D. has published nearly 30 books and hundreds of scholarly articles, chapters, and essays on American politics and history, and is a frequent media commentator appearing on numerous American and international television, print, and radio outlets. He runs the American Studies program at Lynn University in the USA. Email:
Dale Berger teaches advanced U.S. history and government at Sheridan Hills Christian School in Florida. He holds a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in U.S. History and a M.A. in Political Science from Florida Atlantic University. Berger served as an intern at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, presented a paper at the “James and Dolley Madison” conference hosted by the International Lincoln Center for American Studies at Louisiana State University, and has published papers with the Eisenhower Institute, the journal The Lincoln Herald, and in the book Creative Breakthroughs in Leadership (Pencraft International). Email:

Presidential Progeny

The Lincolns were not the only First Couple to have children. Many presidents had children, although several presidents had no descendents. This includes George Washington and James Madison, both of whom adopted their wives’ children from earlier marriages. Like the two Founding Fathers, Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Warren Harding were also childless. Both Franklin Pierce and William McKinley had children – three and two, respectively – but, tragically, all of them died in their youth (Watson 2004; Watson 2000).

Even though most presidents had children, only a few of them had young children during their White House years. Young children were a part of only six presidencies during the 20th century: Teddy Roosevelt had a full and active brood; Calvin Coolidge had two boys, John and Calvin; John Kennedy had a daughter, Caroline, and son, John; Jimmy Carter had a daughter, Amy, who was 10 when the Carters moved into the White House; Bill Clinton had a daughter, Chelsea, who was 13 during Clinton’s first year in office; and Barack Obama has two young girls, Sasha and Malia.

The Washingtons had two grandchildren living with them during the inaugural presidency and a few First Families had relatives, including nieces, nephews, and grandchildren who periodically visited and stayed in the Executive Mansion. But few young children were a part of the presidency during the 19th century. Aside from the Lincolns, the only presidencies to have young children as a part of them were Grant, Hayes, and Cleveland, whose recent, young wife Frances had a daughter, Ruth, in 1891 during the interim between Cleveland’s two non-consecutive terms. Mrs. Cleveland became the only first lady to give birth in the White House when, in 1893, she had a daughter, Esther, during the first year of Cleveland’s second term. Three additional Cleveland children were born – Marion in 1895, Richard in 1897, just after Cleveland’s term concluded, and a baby named for her mother who died in infancy in 1903 (Watson 2004; Watson 2000).

All three of these First Families, however, were in the Executive Mansion after Abraham Lincoln. Accordingly, in 1860, when Lincoln was campaigning, the idea of young children as part of the presidency was a novel one for the public. Lincoln’s presidency marked the first time in American history that a president had young children in the Executive Mansion. This situation not only fascinated the public and press, and tested the patience of Lincoln’s staff, but it presented a whole new way of viewing the president and presidency. It also provides a novel way of studying the president, as there are insights to be gleaned about presidential character from assessing his relationship with his children and his approach to fatherhood.

Lincoln is one of if not the best known and most studied of all the presidents. Lincoln has been the subject of an impressive array of worthy biographies, journals, centers, conferences, and scholars. But what do we know about Lincoln as a father? This article explores several questions: What do we know about the Lincoln boys? What kind of parent was Lincoln? How did he balance the demands of fatherhood with his public career? And, how did fatherhood shape his personality and approach to politics? Fatherhood might provide scholars with a unique lens by which to further examine the 16th President.

Presidential Sons and Success: Robert Lincoln

After his father’s death Robert went on to very successful careers in the fields of law, business, and politics. Many studies have suggested that the first born – and especially the first-born male – tended to experience success at higher rates than their siblings, while many leaders have tended to be first-born males (Leman 1985). Yet, more than a few first-born presidential sons were reckless and suffered from alcoholism. Several sons, first-born and otherwise, also died very young. Most recently, John F. Kennedy, Jr. was a risk taker and playboy who died at age 38 while piloting his small plane in bad weather. George W. Bush’s family charitably referred to him as a “late bloomer.” Several years before his political career, a Bush aide asked brother Marvin Bush whether the first-born Bush would ever run for political office. Marvin dismissed the possibility as absurd because “George is the family clown” (Wead 2003, 4).

In this respect, the Lincolns shared fates with other presidential families who suffered through the tragic deaths of young children as well as scandals and failures of other children. Lincoln’s firstborn, Robert, avoided many of the foibles and scandals of other presidential sons and would go on to achieve great success, serving two presidents and becoming president of one of the country’s most successful companies. Among the other presidential children who enjoyed success were eight presidential sons who were elected to Congress and 11 who went on to serve in cabinet or sub-cabinet positions. Several presidential children became ambassadors, a few rose to the rank of general in the military; others became CEOs of successful companies, and a number of them published books. Examples include Charles Francis Adams who served as a diplomat during Lincoln’s presidency. James Webb Hayes was one of the founders of the Union Carbide Corporation, both Lyon Tyler and James Garfield became presidents of their fathers’ alma maters, John Eisenhower enjoyed successful military, diplomatic, and writing careers, and Richard Taylor and Frederick Grant, like their fathers, rose to the rank of general.

Success has not been restricted to only male offspring. Helen Taft Manning, at the age of only 25, became a dean at Bryn Mawr College and was later a university president. Woodrow Wilson’s daughters gained notoriety for their work on behalf of women’s rights and Margaret Truman enjoyed a successful career as a bestselling author of mystery novels and historical biographies. Caroline Kennedy has served on the boards of a number of prominent organizations and wrote a very well-received book on the Bill of Rights.

Most notably, two former presidential sons – John Quincy Adams and George W. Bush – followed their fathers by becoming the president, while Benjamin Harrison, like his grandfather, William Henry Harrison, rose to the nation’s highest office. However, among the most successful of all presidential children was Lincoln’s firstborn, Robert. There were seemingly impossibly high expectations of Robert Lincoln but, despite his discomfort with public life, he managed to surpass many of them.

After graduating from Harvard College and completing law school, Robert moved to Chicago and was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1867. He enjoyed a successful law practice. Robert married Mary Harlan, daughter of a U.S. congressman and close political ally of his father, in 1868 and had three children – Mary, Abraham, and Jesse. Given the unusual number of presidential children who died young and the fact that three of Abraham Lincoln’s four children also failed to reach adulthood, it is tragic that Robert’s only son, who was named for his famous grandfather, died at 17. Robert enjoyed political success, serving in the cabinets of James Garfield and Chester A. Arthur as Secretary of War (1881-1885) and as U.S. minister to Great Britain (1889-1892) under President Benjamin Harrison, himself the grandson of a president.

Robert made a lot of money and became president of the Pullman Palace Car Company from 1897 to 1911, one of the largest companies in the country. Visiting heads of state sought an audience with the son of Lincoln and there was continued public speculation about a presidential campaign for Robert. Tiring of the limelight, Robert bemoaned the political pressures: “It seems difficult for the average American to understand that it is possible for anyone not to desire the presidency but I most certainly do not” (Perling 1936, 135).

But Robert was also one of the most intriguing of all presidential children. Late in life Robert frequently dismissed reporters by saying he either did not know his father or could not remember his father, and he also treated his mother very unfairly. One example was when Mary Todd Lincoln hosted a reception in the White House for P.T. Barnum’s famous little person, Tom Thumb, who was celebrating his honeymoon. Although Mrs. Lincoln probably should not have opened the White House to a circus act, Robert coldly refused to attend the event, remaining upstairs, and openly criticized his mother, quipping “I do not propose to assist in entertaining Tom Thumb. My notions of duty are somewhat different than yours” (Wead 2003, 179).

But the worst offenses include Robert prohibiting his mother from visiting his family and having her committed to an asylum. Even though Mrs. Lincoln had become quite erratic and eccentric after the death of her husband, Robert was both wrong and callous when he hired several physicians and attorneys and paid them to testify against his mother. On May 19, 1875, after a brief, sham trial, in which Mrs. Lincoln was dragged to without prior notice and against her wishes, she was committed to the Bellevue Asylum in nearby Batavia, Illinois. Obviously, this act ended the son’s relationship with his mother, who described him as a “wicked monster” (Baker 2008). Mrs. Lincoln would eventually gain a release from the asylum and, publically humiliated, fled alone to France. Suffering health problems and financially broke, she returned home in 1882 and died of a stroke soon afterward. Robert lived until 1926 and, although he benefitted from his family name, would always live in his father’s shadow.

Lincoln’s Relationship with His Boys

a. ) Robert Todd Lincoln

Robert, born on August 1, 1843, was the first Lincoln child. Robert’s early years were somewhat normal and uneventful, and he seemed to be a content child. Named for Mary Todd’s father, the boy was nicknamed “Bob” by his parents and relatives. Robert was sent to a local preparatory school in Illinois in 1854. Once Lincoln’s legal and political career blossomed, it was hoped that Robert would one day attend Harvard College. However, in 1859 he failed the entrance exams for Harvard and, at age 16, spent a year at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire in order to prepare him for college (Donald 1996, 198). Robert eventually attended and graduated from Harvard, spending most of the Civil War and his father’s presidential years away at college.

There was a prickly side to Robert, perhaps because of the teasing he received from other children on account of a “lazy” eye, jealousy he felt stemming from the fact that his parents openly preferred his younger siblings, or a festering competition with his father on account of living in his father’s considerable shadow. It did not help the boy that the public coined the nickname “Prince of Rails” for Lincoln’s eldest, a pun referring to his father’s power and an infamous reception in honor of the Prince of Wales during a visit to the United States. During the official state event, it appears the Price drank too much, flirted with the ladies, and generally embarrassed himself. And so, when Robert made mistakes the nickname was used.

One such noted embarrassment was during Lincoln’s train trip from Illinois to the nation’s capital for his Inauguration in 1861. The one job Lincoln gave to his teen-aged son was to guard the satchel containing the Inaugural Address. But Robert either foolishly lent it to a porter or misplaced it with the luggage, causing Lincoln much anxiety. The event marked one of the very few times the President lost his temper with his children (Donald 1996, 275).

The boy suffered a strange and distant relationship with his father and the two spent little time together. It remains uncertain as to why the two were never close, and this was in marked contrast to the warm and openly affectionate bond Lincoln had with his other sons. One biographer described Lincoln’s relationship with his eldest son, saying “There was an estrangement between them reminiscent of the coldness between Lincoln and his father” (Oates 2005, 96-7). Lincoln’s father, Thomas, seemed incapable of demonstrating any affection toward his son and was emotionally absent from his son’s upbringing. For his part, Lincoln would rarely speak of his father and could not bring himself to mourn his father’s passing. The nature of Lincoln’s experience with his father might offer one possible explanation for his awkward relationship with Robert in that Lincoln was emotionally ill-prepared at the time to be a father.

From the beginning, Robert’s relationship with his father was strained. When Robert was only three, Lincoln described him in an understated way to his close friend Joshua Speed as “smart enough.” Lincoln went on, remarking “I sometimes fear he is one of the little rare-ripe sort, that are smarter at about five than ever after.” It was clear that Robert was bright, a trait that made Mrs. Lincoln most proud and of which she frequently boasted: “I have a boy studying Latin and Greek and will be ten years old in a few days” (Donald 1996, 109). Lincoln noticed though that Robert possessed “a great deal of that sort of mischief that is the offspring of much animal spirits” (Packard 2005, 67). It is unclear in this quote as to whether Lincoln was referring to an unfortunate personality trait in Robert or his own emotionally strained marriage, which suffered through an on-again, off-again courtship with the spirited Mary Todd. What is clear is that the Lincolns, after ending their engagement and the ensuing cooling-off period, suddenly and on the spur of the moment decided to marry on November 4, 1842. Their first months as husband and wife were anything but loving. It is possible that a son being born less than nine months into the stormy marriage factored into the aloofness with which Lincoln received Robert.

Robert was described by his contemporaries as reserved, priggish, and self-involved. Yet, other observers in the capital city had a better impression of Robert, often describing him as good looking, mannered, and possessing a fine sense of humor. Nonetheless, he treated the White House staff with callousness and showed himself to be petty and insensitive. One such example occurred after there had been a fire in the White House stables that killed one of his brother’s beloved ponies. The ordeal caused the President much pain. But Robert thoughtlessly burst into Lincoln’s office the following morning saying he had a point of law that could not wait. It dealt with one of the coachman that had a sum of money in his room at the stables that had been lost in fire. Robert had been arguing with Lincoln’s secretary, John Hay, over the matter of the government’s liability in the loss and demanded the President hear his position. On another occasion, Robert ran into the room of his father’s other secretary, John Nicolay, at night to boast: “Well, I have just had a great row with the President of the United States!” (Burlingame 2006, 300). Robert seemed proud of the disagreement.

Robert developed a sense of decorum and taste for fashion and clothing. In this way, and in so many others, he was much like his mother and reflected very little of his father. History strongly labels Robert as “entirely Todd” in his makeup, referring to Mrs. Lincoln’s aristocratic family from Lexington. The Todd side of Robert might also explain the gulf between father and son, as Lincoln was never close to the Todds and, in return, they thought perhaps even less of Mary Todd’s choice of a husband. Lincoln, for instance, was known to joke of the haughty Todd family saying that, while one “d” was sufficient for God, the Todds required two!

Lincoln’s former law partner, William Herndon, noted the same, describing the Robert as follows:

He is a Todd and not a Lincoln. Bob is little, proud, aristocratic, and haughty, is his mother’s ‘baby’ all through. Years older than Willie and Tad, he seemed jealous and resentful of the way Lincoln fawned over them, which only added to Robert’s alienation. And then there was his visual trouble: one eye turned inward so that schoolmates called him “cockeye,” which humiliated him. And so he grew up in his father’s shadow, injured, touchy, and remote (Oates 1994, 96-97).

This emotional distance and strain carried over into the presidential years. Robert, then a student at Harvard, visited the family during holidays and special occasions. But he felt awkward around his father and the two never had much to say to one another. Their “stiff” relationship was such that it was often a relief to the family and White House staff when Robert had to leave to return to Harvard. In fact, it was noticeable that Lincoln was much closer with his two young male secretaries – John Nicolay and John Hay – who functioned more as the older, loyal sons Lincoln did not have (Donald 1996, 428).

Possessing a personality far different from his father or brothers, Robert would always be “the odd member out” in Lincoln family (Packard 2005, 20), becoming, as a young man, an “aloof, chilly introvert” (Oates 1994, 96-97). This made the eldest son something of “an anomaly, a slightly perplexed mystery to both his mother and, especially, his father” (Packard 2005, 18). Some scholars suspect that Robert’s temperament was impacted, at least in part, by the death of his younger brother and playmate, Eddy, forging in the older boy a more contemplative and reserved personality (Packard 2005, 67).

The day Lincoln was assassinated Robert had been visiting the family in the White House and had breakfast with his father. According to the White House seamstress, Elizabeth Keckley, Lincoln’s demeanor and face were “more cheerful than I had seen it for a long while, and he seemed to be in a generous, forgiving mood” (Keckley 1948, 137). Robert showed his father a picture of Gen. Robert E. Lee and the two had a brief and uncharacteristically warm conversation, with Lincoln saying to his son of the picture and of life:

It is a good face; it is the face of a noble, noble, brave man. I am glad the war is over at last. Well, my son, you have returned safely from the front. The war is now closed, and we soon will live in peace with the brave men that have been fighting against us. I trust that the era of good feelings has returned with the war, and henceforth we shall live in peace. Now listen to me, Robert: You must lay aside your uniform, and return to college. I wish you to read law for three years, and at the end of that time I hope that we will be able to tell whether you will make a lawyer or not (Keckley 1948, 138).

Robert appears to have assumed some responsibility during and after the assassination of his father, when he helped organize the funeral, appeared on behalf of the family, and took care of Mrs. Lincoln, who was not able to function in the wake of the tragedy. Lincoln’s aide, Edward Duffield Neil, later recalled that Robert surprised everyone and proved himself during that trying time: “His manly bearing on that trying occasion made me feel that he was a worthy son of a worthy father” (Wilson 1945, 613).

b.) Edward Baker Lincoln

The Lincoln’s second son was born on March 10, 1846 at the new Lincoln home on Eighth and Jackson Streets in Springfield. Eddy, as he was nicknamed, was named after Edward Dickinson Baker, a local Whig politician, attorney, and friend of the Lincoln family. Although Lincoln was away from home for much of Eddy’s brief life, serving in politics or traveling on the circuit as an attorney, he did cherish the time they spent together when he was home. Unlike with Robert, Lincoln seems to have spoiled his second son. He played with the little boy every chance he could and was “happy to carry him around on his shoulders.” Mrs. Lincoln, who was known to spoil her children, even agreed that her husband spoiled the boy he called his “Blessed Child” or “My Dear Codger” (Packard 2005, 18).

Just prior to Christmas of 1849, three-year-old Eddy became very sick. Mary Todd’s father had died of cholera only a few months earlier, as had a close family friend’s child. As such, Mrs. Lincoln, already prone to anxiety, was “especially fearful for the health of the always frail Eddie” (Packard 2005, 18). Physicians suspected the boy had diptheria, but some historians believe it was pulmonary tuberculosis. Whatever the disease or illness, the Lincolns agonized over the 52-day ordeal and watched helplessly until Eddy died on February 1, 1850.

Little is known about Eddy, as his parents had trouble even talking or writing about their son after his passing. The death devastated the Lincolns and caused Mary Todd to be even more nervous from that point on about every malady, bump, or bruise suffered by her children. She lived the rest of her life in constant fear of losing her loved ones. The loss also affected Lincoln, who became much more doting on his children, permissive of any wrongdoing by them, and concerned above all else with assuring their happiness during the precious time they shared together.

c.) William Wallace Lincoln

Less than 11 months after Eddy’s death, a third child was born on December 21, 1850. The husky baby boy was named for Dr. William Wallace, a physician and the husband of Mary Todd’s sister Frances. Nicknamed “Willie” by Lincoln, who felt an overwhelming and uncommon depth of love for the boy from the moment of his birth, he was described as handsome, smart, serious, and thoughtful (Abraham Lincoln Institute 2009). The Lincolns considered him “a seemingly perfect child.” He was their favorite, something that was apparent to everyone including older brother Robert (Packard 2005, 20, 75).

Mrs. Lincoln’s cousin, Elizabeth Todd Grimsley, referred to him as “a noble, beautiful boy of nine years, of great mental activity, unusual intelligence, wonderful memory, methodical, frank and loving, a counterpart of his father, save that he was handsome” (Grimsley 1926-1927, 48). Julia Taft, who played with Willie and was something of a babysitter to the Lincoln boys and her younger brothers, also praised him as “the most lovable boy I ever knew, bright, sensible, sweet-tempered and gentle-manner” (Bayne 2009, 8). Likewise, a family barber remembered Willie as very “smart and considerate” with “good sense” (Baker 2008, 210).

It was widely agreed that Willie inherited his father’s intellect and first-rate disposition. In Willie, Lincoln found great joy and a kindred spirit. The two were inseparable and were frequently seen reading, wrestling, and playing together Lincoln, as a father, seems to have grown with Willie, becoming a patient, attentive, and nurturing parent on account of Willie. Willie’s birth also had the effect of helping bring Mary Todd out of her deep depression and allowed both parents to find purpose after the death of Eddy.

His father’s son, Willie was witty, kind, and funny, and was beloved by most who met him. Possessing Lincoln’s memory, Willie learned the railway times and stops from Chicago to New York and, to the delight of his father, enjoyed reciting it while making up imaginary train trips. In the White House, he engaged visitors in conversation and gave impromptu tours of the building (Oates 1994, 97). But once again tragedy struck the Lincoln family. Willie became alarmingly sick and died on February 20, 1862, roughly a dozen years after his older brother Eddy. Both parents were emotionally devastated and it seems Mary Todd never recovered from the loss. Willie’s death marked the most challenging and distressing event in Lincoln’s life. Coming in the midst of his presidency and the Civil War, Lincoln struggled to resume the enormous responsibilities of his job. Nothing would ever help the Lincolns deal with Willie’s death, but they took a measure of comfort in the words of friend and noted poet, Nathaniel Parker Willie, who published an essay about Willie in the Home Journal:

This little fellow had his acquaintences among his father’s friends, and I chanced to be one of them. He never failed to seek me out in the crowd, shake hands, and make some pleasant remark; and this, in a boy of ten years of age, was, to say the least, endearing to a stranger. But he had more than mere affectionateness. His self-possession – aplomb, as the French call it – was extraordinary. I was one day passing the White House, when he was outside with a play-fellow on the side-walk. Mr. Seward drove in, with Prince napoleon and two of his suite in the carriage; and, in a mock-heroic way – terms of intimacy evidently existing between the boy and the Secretary – the official gentleman took off his hat, and the Napoleon did the same, all making the young prince President a ceremonious salute. Not a bit staggered with the homage, Willie drew himself up to his full height, took off his little cap with graceful self-possession, and bowed down formally to the ground, like a little ambassador. They drove past, and he went on unconcernedly with his play: the impromptu readiness of good judgment being clearly a part of his nature. His genial and open expression of countenance was none the less ingenuous and fearless for a certain tincture of fun; and it was in this mingling of qualities that he so faithfully resembled his father.

With all the splendor that was around this little fellow in his new home he was so bravely and beautifully himself – and that only. A wild flower transplanted from the prairie to the hothouse, he retained his prairie habits, unalterably pure and simple, till he died. His leading trait seemed to be a fearless and kindly frankness, willing that everything should be as different as it pleased, but resting unmoved in his own conscious single-heartedness. I found I was studying him irresistibly, as one of the sweet problems of childhood that the world is blessed with in rare places; and the news of his death (I was absent from Washington, on a visit to my own children, at the time) came to me like a knell heard unexpectedly at a merry-making.

On the day of the funeral I went before the hour, to take a near farewell look at the dear boy; for they had embalmed him to send home to the West – to sleep under the sod of his own valley – and the coffin-lid was to be closed before the service. The family had just taken their leave of him, and the servants and nurses were seeing him for the last time – and with tears and sobs wholly unrestrained, for he was loved like an idol by every one of them. He lay with eyes closed – his brown hair parted as we had known it – pale in the slumber of death; but otherwise unchanged, for he was dressed as if for the evening, and held in one of his hands, crossed upon his breast, a bunch of exquisite flowers – a message coming from his mother, while we were looking upon him, that those flowers might be preserved for her. She was lying sick in her bed, worn out with grief and over watching.

The funeral was very touching. Of the entertainments in the east room the boy had been – for those who now assembled more especially – a most life-giving variation. With his bright face, and his apt greetings and replies, he was remembered in every part of that crimson-curtained hall, built only for pleasure – of all the crowds, each night, certainly the one least likely to be death’s first mark. He was his father’s favorite. They were intimates – often seen hand in hand. And there sat the man, with a burden on his brain at which the world marvels – bent now with the load at both heart and brain – staggering under a blow like the taking from him of his child! His men of power sat around him – McClellan, with a moist eye when he bowed to the prayer, as I could see from where I stood; and Chase and Seward, with their austere features at work; and senators, and ambassadors, and soldiers, all struggling with their tears – great hearts sorrowing with the President as a stricken man and a brother. That God may give him strength for all his burdens is, I am sure, at present the prayer of the nation” (Keckley 1948, 106-110).

d.) Thomas Lincoln

The Lincolns wanted a playmate for Willie and were hoping for a girl. But the youngest Lincoln son, named for Lincoln’s father, was born on April 14, 1853. The two boys would grow to be best friends. Lincoln never called his son Thomas. Rather, because at birth the baby’s head seemed too large and he squirmed a lot, Lincoln nicknamed him “Tadpole,” or “Tad” for short (Abraham Lincoln Institute 2009).

Moody and prone to temper tantrums like his mother, Tad was also impulsive and uninhibited. The rambunctious child was described by Mrs. Lincoln’s cousin, Elizabeth Todd Grimsley, as “a gay, gladsome, merry, spontaneous fellow, bubbling over with innocent fun, whose laugh rang through the house, when not moved to tears. Quick in the mind, and impulse, like his mother, with her naturally sunny temperament, he was the life, as also the worry of the household” (Grimsley 1926-1927, 48-49). Playmate and babysitter, Julia Taft, familiar with Tad’s quick and volatile temper, said he was “very affectionate when he chose, but implacable in his dislikes” (Bayne 2009, 8).

Tad was utterly depended on his brother, Willie, who served as the unofficial translator. Though we are uncertain of the full nature of Tad’s learning disability, the boy struggled with a severe lisp and was very slow to learn to read and write. Indeed, Tad was a whirlwind of activity and emotion, partially the result of a learning disability and Lincoln’s refusal to discipline the boy. Most of the president’s staff and visitors to the White House had difficulty understanding Tad. Most sources suggest Tad had a cleft palate (DeGregoria 2001, 227; Thomas 1953, 90), but it was not severe or pronounced, as is evident in photographs of him (Kunhardt et al 1992).

According to White House guard, Col. William Crook,

Taddie could never speak very plainly. He had his own language; the names that he gave some of us we like to remember to-day. The President was ‘Papa-day,’ which meant ‘Papa Dear.’ Tom Pendel was ‘Tom Pen,’ and I was ‘Took.’ But for all his baby tongue he had a man’s heart, and in some things a man’s mind. I believe he was the best companion Mr. Lincoln ever had – one who always understood him, and whom he always understood” (Gerry 1910, 23).

Tad was fearless and was often the instigator of misbehavior among the boys. He had free run and reign in the Lincoln house and, again later, in the White House where he disrupted meetings and social events to the chagrin of the domestic staff and president’s cabinet. But the Lincolns loved him completely, sometimes calling him their “Little Sunshine” or, if necessitated, “Little Troublesome Sunshine!” (Oates 1994, 96). Lincoln fawned over the boy and seemed not to mind the behavior a bit, laughing laughed at Tad’s outbursts and antics. It was not uncommon to find the President holding Tad at arm’s length while the boy tried to kick him and escape (Oates 1994, 97).

Lincoln and Tad became very close and, after Willie’s death. Tad melted Lincoln’s heart and Lincoln alone (after Willie) seemed to understand Tad’s disability and speech impediment. When Tad cried or babbled unintelligibly, it was Lincoln who calmed and understood him. One quaint example of their bond was that, when Tad would enter his father’s office, he used three quick taps and two slow bangs as his “secret code.” The boy was always in his father’s office. In fact, when Tad found himself in trouble with his mother or the staff for his pranks, he would run to his father for sanctuary. After Tad managed to get in trouble, Lincoln would threaten to send his son out of the presidential office unless he behaved. It usually worked, with Tad begging “No, no, Papa. I want to stay and see the people” (Abraham Lincoln Institute 2009).

Lincoln friend and biographer, Noah Brooks, recalled that:

I was once sitting with the President in the library when tad tore into the room in search of something, and having found it, he threw himself on his father like small thunderbolt, gave him one wild, fierce hug, and without a word, fled from the room before his father could put out a hand to detain him (Mitgang 249).

Likewise, Assistant Secretary of War, Charles A. Dana, told the story that:

Often I sat by tad’s father reporting to him about some important matter that I had been ordered to inquire into, and he would have this boy on his knee; and, while he would perfectly understand the report, the striking thing about him was his affection for the child (Dana 1902, 168).

With Tad it was not all misbehavior and antics, however. The boy had a sentimental and kind side to him. Col. Crook remembered the story of a woman whose husband was in prison and her hungry were children. This mother approached Tad while he was playing and, crying, asked the President’s son for help. Tad ran to tell his father. But, Lincoln’s promise to help the woman was not enough. Tad insisted his “Pa” help woman immediately, so the President did by pardoning her husband. Delighted, Tad raced outside to tell the woman and they both cried with joy (Sandburg 1926-1939/vol. 3, 527).

Lincoln’s attorney friend, Ward Hill Lamon, remembered that Tad would champion the cause of people in need, just as he had done in the aforementioned story and just as his father was famous for doing. Tad frequently would tell his father who to help and would bring people in need to meet the President. Once, Tad introduced to his father men from Kentucky. Lamon recalled that “the introductions were gone through with, and they turned out to be gentlemen Mr. Lincoln had been avoiding for a week.” Lincoln took it all in stride, however. According to Lamon, “Mr. Lincoln reached for the boy, took him on his lap, kissed him, and told him it was all right, and that he had introduced his friend like a little gentleman as he was…” Tad said the men were his friends because “they looked so good and sorry, and said they were from Kentucky, that I thought they must be our friends.” Lincoln said to his son “that is right, my son. I would have the whole human race your friends and mine, if it were possible” (Lamon 1895, 167-168).

With the help of the White House staff, Tad also erected a miniature theater in a closet complete with a stage, curtain, and all the trimmings. He also wore the military uniform given to him by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, when he was made an “honorary” lieutenant and frequently “ordered” the soldiers of the Pennsylvania “Buck Tail Brigade,” who were guarding the White House, and the president’s domestic staff to drill and assemble for inspection.

The young prankster brought life into a grieving White House. However, Tad also took the death of his brother badly. He lost his playmate, best friend, and interpreter. To help ease Tad’s confusion and suffering, the Lincolns arranged for Robert to visit his young brother, as Robert was an “admired and much loved figure” to the little boy (Packard 2005, 139).

The day of Lincoln’s death, an attorney from Illinois, John Albert Jones, paid his respects on family. Jones’ daughter later remembered her father’s encounter with Tad: “When Tad saw my father, he ran up to him and asked: ‘Mr. Jones, wouldn’t you like to have something of my father’s?’ ‘Yes, Tad, but of no value.’ Tad led my father to his father’s desk and gave him two pens, the last his father had used (Hunt 1945, 251).

Alone after Lincoln’s assassination, Mary Todd had become dependent on Tad, rarely leaving him, taking him on trips with her, and enrolling him in a private academy. On a return trip from Europe Tad contracted either pneumonia or tuberculosis and died in Chicago on May 18, 1875. He was only 18 years old.

Lincoln’s secretary, John Hay, remembered Tad in an obituary:

He was so full of life and vigor – so bubbling over with health and high spirits, that he kept the house alive with his pranks and his fantastic enterprises. He was always a ‘chartered libertine,’ and after the death of his brother Willie, a prematurely serious and studious child, and the departure of Robert for college, he installed himself as the absolute tyrant of the Executive Mansion. He was idolized by both his father and mother, petted and indulged by his teachers, and fawned upon and caressed by that noisome horde of office-seekers which infested the ant-rooms of the White house. He had a very bad opinion of books and no opinion of discipline, and thought very little of any tutor who would not assist him in yoking his kids to a chair or in driving his dogs tandem over the south lawn. He was as shrewd as he was lawless, and always knew whether he could make a tutor serviceable or not. If he found one with obstinate ideas of the superiority of grammar to kite-flying as an intellectual employment, he soon found means of getting rid of him. He had so much to do that he felt he could not waste time in learning to spell. Early in the morning you could hear his shrill pipe resounding through the dreary corridors of the executive residence. The day passed in a rapid succession of plots an commotions, and when the President laid down his weary pen toward midnight, he generally found his infant goblin asleep under his table or roasting his curly head by the open fire-place; and the tall chief would pick up the child and trudge off to bed with the drowsy little burden on his shoulder, stooping under the doors and dodging the chandeliers. The President took infinite comfort in the child’s rude health, fresh fun, and uncontrollable boisterousness. He was pleased to see him growing up in ignorance of books, but with singularly accurate ideas of practical matters. He was a fearless rider, while yet so small that his legs stuck out horizontally from the saddle. He had that power of taming and attaching animals to himself, which seems the especial gift of kindly and unlettered natures. ‘Let him run,’ the easy-going President would say; ‘he has time enough left to learn his letters and get pokey. Bob was just such a little rascal, and now he is a very decent boy (Burlingame 2006, 111-112).

Lincoln and Fatherhood

a.) An Absent and Distracted Father

Lincoln was a workaholic and was often so absorbed in thought that he was distracted and inattentive. This created tension in his marriage but no doubt also impacted his relationship with his children. Lincoln’s job traveling the circuit practicing law, his schedule of political speaking, and his two years in the U.S. House of Representatives required him to be away from his family more than he or they would have preferred. Ironically, despite his vigorous work habits and the extraordinary demands of serving as president during the Civil War, Lincoln appears to have carved out more time for his boys than might be expected while in the White House.

Lincoln was absent for much of Robert’s formative years and most of Eddy’s brief life. When Lincoln was elected to Congress he moved the family, which included two boys at the time – Robert and baby Eddy – to the nation’s capital city. They shared a boarding room, which made it tough for Lincoln to have peace and quiet. Lincoln was often gone from the time the family awoke until after they went to sleep, which further angered Mrs. Lincoln. Accordingly, while her husband was serving in Congress, Mary Todd moved the children temporarily back with her family in Kentucky. Although Lincoln complained when the boys and his wife were around him that he could not get his work done, when they were gone he pined away for them, writing very tender “little letters” to them saying how much he missed the boys. Interestingly, it was Eddy he missed. To Mrs. Lincoln he pleaded, “Don’t let the blessed fellow forget father.” Lincoln could scarcely endure the quiet created by their absence, complaining “I hate to stay in this old room by myself” (Oates 1994B, 81).

Indeed, Robert saw little of his father during his youth, which no doubt contributed to the strain in their relationship. The blame, of course, rests with Lincoln who never really explained his complicated feelings and was as distant with Robert as he was affectionate with the other three boys. So too was Lincoln tougher with Robert than the other boys in terms of discipline and his expectations. The prevalence of this family dynamic was such that friends and associates even recognized that Robert was Lincoln’s least favorite son (Burlingame 1994, 57-72). Mrs. Lincoln had to encourage her husband to visit Robert while he was studying at Phillips Exeter and when Lincoln visited him at Harvard the visit was coupled with meetings with political supporters. The tone of Lincoln’s letters to Robert’s roommate even seems warmer than those to Robert. Robert was never a strong student, a fact which seemed to grate at his father, yet Lincoln did not press the issue of Tad’s inadequate education and was more than understanding and patient with the boy’s learning disability.

Even their visits when Robert was a young man were less than affectionate. Robert described visiting his father but having only “ten uninterrupted minutes” with him and, once, when wishing to raise a point with his father, but finding the President absorbed in a chess game, Robert knocked the chess board to the floor (Wead 2003, 176). Robert was furious but Lincoln remained calm. Robert remembered this period in their lives: “My father’s life was of a kind which gave me but little opportunity to learn the details of his early career. During my childhood & early youth he was constantly away from home, attending courts or making political speeches” (Oates 1994B, 96-97). His father’s absence seems to have built resentment in Robert who, late in life, wrote to a biographer about his upbringing and distance from his father:

In 1859 when I was sixteen and when he was beginning to devote himself more to practice in his own neighborhood, and when I would have both the inclination and the means of gratifying my desire to become better acquainted with the history of his struggles, I went to new Hampshire to school and afterward to Harvard college, and he became president. Henceforth any great intimacy between us became impossible. I scarcely even had ten minutes quiet talk with him during his Presidency, on account of his constant devotion to business” (Wilson 1945, 499).

b.) A Playful and Affectionate Father

Social mores were such that men were far less engaged in their affections for children than today. This was not the case with Lincoln, who was uninhibited and something of a big kid when it came to his playfulness with Eddy, Willie, and Tad. During his pre-presidential career, Lincoln was the pied piper of his community. Children followed him, sat high atop his shoulders, played with him, and dragged alongside him for a ride while hanging on his legs. They also pulled pranks such as hanging a line at the height of Lincoln’s stovetop hat, whereupon Lincoln would pretend to be unsuspecting in order to have his famous hat knocked off his head. When Willie and Tad were very young, their father pulled them up and down the street by their home in a little wagon. Sometimes Lincoln would read a book while pulling the wagon with his free hand. He lived up to his reputation of being distracted because little Tad once fell out of the wagon but his father kept pulling Willie down the road without noticing (Waugh 1997, 159).

Lincoln’s playfulness with his and other children continued in the White House, despite the enormous pressures of the office and war. Having two little boys who loved animals, the President famously pardoned a turkey scheduled to be dinner. Tad made the bird his pet, naming him Jack. While Tad and his father were observing people and soldiers voting in the November 1864 election, the turkey Jack was walking among the crowd. Lincoln chuckled to his son, “What business has the turkey stalking about the polls in that way? Does he vote?” Tad responded “No, he’s not of age.” Abe laughed with delight (Waugh 1997, 347-348). Lincoln also played soldier with Tad, allowing him to wear a uniform, drill the White House staff, and, when Tad issued a death sentence on his toy soldiers, the President would write pardons for them.

One good source for such insights was Julia Taft Bayne (1845-1933) who, around age 16, visited the White House. Julia Taft was the daughter of the Chief Examiner at the U.S. Patent Office and her younger siblings, Bud and Holly, were playmates with Willie and Tad Lincoln, while Julia functioned as babysitter and nanny. Lincoln wanted a daughter and had hoped for one when Mary Todd was pregnant with their fourth child, and it is apparent that Lincoln was very close to Julia and saw her as the daughter he never had. He playfully nicknamed her “Flibbertigibbet,” which he said meant that she was “a small, slim thing with curls and a white dress and a blue sash who flies instead of walking” (Bayne 2009).

Julia remembered that it was a common site to see Willie and Bud on top of the President, holding him down on the floor, while Tad and Holly each held down one of Lincoln’s long legs. Tad would scream to Julia, “Come quick and sit on his stomach!” while Lincoln would pretend to struggle and holler with delight. With his boys, the Taft children, and Julia piled up on and around him, Lincoln read books and told amusing and thoughtful stories (Donald 1996, 310).

Such moments with his children also helped the President cope with the other issues in his life. But there was a serious and loving side to Lincoln’s relationship with his younger sons that transcended the momentous times. Lincoln maintained some semblance of normalcy and family for Willie and Tad while in the White House. The loss of Willie brought Tad and Lincoln even closer together, and Lincoln assumed Willie’s role of playmate, confidante, and translator. Lincoln took Tad with him shopping, on walks around town, and to inspect the troops; the boy also visited with his father General Hooker’s headquarters and on board the ship Carrie Martin on a voyage down the Potomac River. Tad often fell asleep in his father’s office, resting his head on Lincoln’s feet. Both father and son were happiest when in one another’s company.

The depth of Lincoln’s affection for his younger children was apparent in countless ways as well as in the smallest of detail. Not only did Lincoln join is wife in fretting over their health and the prospect of losing them, but he was concerned with anything that threatened the boys happiness. One such example was Tad’s pet goat. On August 8, 1863, Lincoln wrote to his wife while she was traveling in New York City with Tad:

Tell dear Tad, poor ‘Nanny Goat’ is lost, and Mrs. Cuthbert & I are in distress about it. The day you left Nanny was found resting herself, and chewing her little cud, on the middle of Tad’s bed. But now she is gone! The gardener kept complaining that she destroyed the flowers till it was concluded to bring her down to the White House. This was done, and the second day she had disappeared and has not been heard since. This is the last we know of poor Nanny” (Thomas 1953, 483).

Tad’s speech impediment, learning disability, and wild side proved to be too much for most friends and members of the White House staff. But Lincoln proved to be both eminently patient and understanding with the boy. When Tad flew into his father’s office and up into his open arms, Lincoln would stare deeply and lovingly at the boy while Tad babbled on about whatever caused his excitement. A good example of their relationship was when Tad was ill but refused to take his medicine. A nurse interrupted Lincoln in a meeting, which he permitted, and informed the President that “Mrs. Lincoln insists that I see you. Tad won’t take his medicine.” No one could control Tad or get him to take his medicine. Lincoln excused himself and went directly to Tad’s room, saying to the attending nurse “You stay here and I’ll see what I can do.” Shortly afterward, Lincoln walked out of Tad’s room smiling, “It’s alright. Tad and I have fixed things up.” The nurse found Tad suddenly a pleasant and cooperative patient. The boy had in his hand a note in Lincoln’s handwriting saying, “Pay to Tad (when he is well enough to present) Five Dollars. A. Lincoln”

Lincoln often gave Tad little errands to boost his confidence, saying to the boy that he had important work for him to complete. One of tad’s favorite “jobs” was going to the fire department a few blocks from the White House to carry a letter from the President. One such note read “Will Mr. Dickson, Chief Engineer of Hibernia, please pump the water out of a certain well which Tad will show?” (Thomas 1953, 482). No matter how busy he was or how uncontrollable Tad became, Lincoln remained calm and understanding. He refused to punish his son and tolerated even the most untimely and loud interruptions of important meetings.

c.) An Indulgent and Lenient Father

Lincoln coped with the loss of Eddy by indulging Willie and Tad. After Willie’s passing, Lincoln further permitted Tad to pursue his every whim. He believed in letting his boys have pretty much their own way in play, manners, and their comportment, appreciating the fragility of life and wanting to enjoy every precious moment. The Lincolns were uncharacteristic of parents of the time in that they placed understanding above discipline. Where other parents routinely thrashed their children to discipline them and Lincoln’s Cabinet officers and staff were furious with the boys’ interruptions and antics, Lincoln saw nothing wrong with a little mischief, whether in the home, his law office, or in the White House. Indeed, Lincoln loved to “romp with his boys, to lie on the hall floor and tickle and toss them in the air” (Oates 1994B, 64). Even when “Tad ate all the strawberries intended for a state dinner; the steward raged and tore his hair, but his mother merely asked him why he did it.” Lincoln simply chuckled (Thomas 1953, 301).

In Springfield, Lincoln’s neighbors and even his friends complained of the boys’ rambunctious ways. Lincoln’s law partners also suffered mightily the presence of two uncontrollable children in the midst of a busy law office. When the work load piled up Lincoln worked Sundays in his law office, and often brought the boys along with him to “gut the room.” His suffering partner, William Herndon, was horrified by the boys’ behavior when they pushed over shelves, threw pens, overturned inkstands, scattered letters on the floor, and “rifled drawers and riddled boxes.” Herndon would want to “wring their little necks” but controlled his feelings about the Lincoln “brats” on account of his admiration for their father (Oates 1994B, 74).

This continued in the White House. Aide William O. Stoddard described the two boys playing together as “What a yell! But it comes from the forces belonging to quite another seat of war… Peace is obtained by sending them to their mother, at the other end of the building…” (Burlingame 2000, 12). The boys – 11 and 8 when the Lincolns entered the White House – hid in windows at the White House while using poles to knock visitors’ hats off and snuck into a room to discover a painter’s supplies, which they ruined (along with the room) They built a fort and pretend ship on the roof of the White House, performed a circus for the staff, raced through the hallways, and kept both visitors and staff on edge with their noise, unruliness, and even requests for levies. With good reason, Tad was called “the Tyrant of the White House” (Donald 1996, 121).

Francis Carpenter, who spent a few months in the White House painting the Emancipation Proclamation and other images, recalled Tad’s misbehavior.

The day after the review of [General] Burnside’s division some photographers from Brady’s gallery came up to the White House to make some stereoscopic studies for me of the president’s office. They requested a dark closet, in which to develop the pictures; and without a thought that I was infringing upon anybody’s rights, I took them to an unoccupied room of which little ‘Tad’ had taken possession a few days before, and with the aid of a couple of the servants, had fitted up a miniature theater, with stage, curtains, orchestra, stalls, parquette, and all. Knowing that the use required would interfere with none of his arrangements, I led the way to his apartment.

Everything went on well, and one or two pictures had been taken, when suddenly there was an uproar. The operator came back to the office, and said that ‘Tad’ had taken great offense at the occupation of his room without his consent, and had locked the door, refusing all admission. The chemicals had been taken inside, and there was no way of getting at them, he having carried off the key. In the midst of this conversation, ‘Tad’ burst in, in a fearful passion. He laid all the blame upon me – said that I had no right to use his room, and that the men should not go in even to get their things. He had locked the door, and they should not go there again – ‘they had no business in his room!’ Mr. Lincoln had been sitting for a photograph, and was still in the chair. He said, very mildly, ‘Tad, go and unlock the door.’ Tad went off muttering into his mother’s room, refusing to obey. I followed him into the passage, but no coaxing would pacify him. Upon my return to the President, I found him still sitting patiently in the chair, from which he had not risen. He said: ‘Has not the boy opened that door?” I replied that we could do nothing with him – he had gone off in a great pet. Mr. Lincoln’s lips came together firmly, and then, suddenly rising, he stroke across the passage with the air of one bent on punishment, and disappeared in the domestic apartments. Directly he returned with the key to the theater,
which he unlocked himself. ‘There,’ said he, ‘go ahead, it is all right now.’ He then went back to his office, followed by myself, and resumed his seat. ‘Tad,’ said he, half apologetically, ‘is a peculiar child. He was violently excited when I went to him. I said, ‘Tad, do you know you are making your father a great deal of trouble?’ He burst into tears, instantly giving me up the key” (Carpenter 1874, 91-92).

Lincoln’s Legacy as a Father

As has been noted by the many biographers of Lincoln, the 16th President was a complex individual. So too was he a complex father. Where most fathers of the time were largely absent from both the day-to-day details and the heavy-lifting of childrearing, Lincoln was not; but, only in the case of his third and fourth sons. Where it was uncommon for fathers to show such unbridled affection, Lincoln was doting and playful; but not with his first son and he could be easily distracted by work and thought. Lincoln took an interest in the opinions of Willie and Tad, but not in Robert’s, and he was proud of their every achievement, but was underwhelmed with Robert’s efforts. While most parents disciplined their children through beatings, Lincoln was overly indulgent, patient, and permissive; but he spoiled his children to the extent that many of his friends and associates commented on it. But Lincoln ignored such criticism and attempted to listen to and understand his children (Randall 1956).

Lincoln’s sister-in-law, Frances Wallace, once criticized him for carrying Tad on his shoulders, saying the boy was big enough to walk and would be spoiled. Mrs. Wallace scolded Lincoln, saying “Why, Mr. Lincoln, put down that great big boy. He’s big enough to walk.” Without removing Tad from his shoulders, Lincoln replied, “Oh don’t you think his little feet get too tired?” (Waugh 1997, 159).

Lincoln had a way with children, his own and others. It was he and not Mrs. Lincoln who seemed to understand the children. One day while talking with the press, Willie rushed into the President’s office saying he needed a quarter. Lincoln replied “I can’t let you have a quarter. I can only spare five cents.” The President put five pennies on his desk but Willie refused it and ran out of the office. “He will be back after that in a few minutes,” Lincoln observed to the newspapermen. “As soon as he finds I will give him no more, he will come and get it.” As predicted, a little while later, Willie came in and quietly put the money in his pocket, leaving without saying a thing (Thomas 1954, 232).

It could be said that Lincoln was a good father. He tried to make Eddy’s, Willie’s, and Tad’s short lives as happy as possible. The Lincoln kids enjoyed many of Lincoln’s best qualities and benefitted from his teaching and nurturing (Packard 2005, 75). It is inaccurate to portray Willie and Tad solely as wild boys who ran amok in the White House. They both had numerous endearing traits such as being compassionate and honest. Nearly everyone who commented on Willie offered assessments that were glowing, suggesting he was a remarkable boy. According to playmate and babysitter, Julia Taft, when Tad smashed a mirror in the White House with a ball he said, “Well it’s broke, I don’t believe Pa’ll care.” But Willie reminded his brother that they needed to tell the truth. “It’s not Pa’s looking glass. It belonged to the United States government” (Wead 2003, 91). Also, after Lincoln’s last speech, which was on April 11, 1865, Tad heard people saying that the Confederate soldiers should be hanged. With concern, the boy said to his father innocently, “Oh, no, we must hang on to them.” Lincoln agreed, “That’s right, Tad, we must hang on to them” (Randall 1956, 161).

Because Eddy, Willie, and Tad did not survive to adulthood, we do not know what their personalities would have been and what kind of men they would have become. The one Lincoln child who survived to adulthood, Robert, became one of the most successful of all presidential children.

Lincoln wrestled with poverty and self-worth his entire life. When he married, he was ashamed of his lack of wealth. And the marriage was often difficult. Mrs. Lincoln, accustomed to privilege and comfort, demanded better conditions. As a consequence, Lincoln “toiled in relentless effort” to make money and make something of himself. The long hours in the office and demands of riding the circuit as an attorney, however, took him away from his family. (Oates 1994B, 64) In January of 1844, Lincoln was able to purchase a comfortable home near to his office. But he continued to work long hours and push himself. Yet, upon becoming a parent, Lincoln for possibly the first time in his life experienced a sense of “worth and security” (Oates 1994B, 64). His boys provided him with a great source of love and pride, while buoying his spirits during some of the most challenging moments of his political career.

Clearly, Lincoln’s approach to fatherhood was shaped in part from his own cold relationship with his father, his longing to become someone of importance, and, perhaps above all, the tragic loss of two young sons. It is apparent Lincoln grew into fatherhood, as he was a much different father of young Tad than he was when Robert was young, just as he had grown as a person and as a politician. In so doing, his self identity was that of a father – not just father of his sons, but father to all and to the nation. Such was the case when the son of Lincoln’s friend, Congressman William Kellogg, was in a predicament. The son resigned from West Point rather than face dismissal as a disciplinary action for a wrongdoing. Approaching the matter as a father who had suffered the loss of two sons, Lincoln defied the rules of the military academy and reappointed Kellogg’s son. Said Lincoln,

Hon. William Kellogg, the father, is not only a member of Congress from my state, but he is my personal friend of more than twenty years standing, and of whom I had many personal kindnesses. This matter touches him very deeply – the feelings of a father for a child – as he thinks, all the future of his child. I can not be the instrument to crush his heart” (Oates 1994B, 468-469).

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