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Author Topic: Question about Robert Lincoln  (Read 707 times)
Nan
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« on: April 08, 2012, 04:21:04 PM »

I've read several different accounts of how Robert Lincoln was notified of the shooting at Fords the night of the assassination.  In one version, Robert was told that his father was wounded in the arm and in another version, Robert was told that his father was mortally wounded and Robert rushed to the Petersen House.  Does anyone know which is accurate?  Did Robert ever write his memoirs and give a first-person account of the events of that night?
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Nan
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« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2012, 04:48:44 PM »

     Robert stayed at the White House that night and was studying Spanish with John Hay. As he was getting ready for bed, William Crook entered his room and told him something had happened to his father at the theater. I don't recall reading he was told specifically that he was shot. Crook remembered RTL was pouring some medicine onto a spoon and after he was told, dropped it. Crook vividly remembered the black medicine gurgling onto the carpet.

     A careful steward of his father's papers, reputation and legacy, I have never heard of him writing his memoirs or mentioning the assassination. In the early 20th century, he did recount his train mishap incident with Edwin Booth. He was deeply upset upon finding out that Oldroyd, when he was custodian of the Lincoln home in Springfield, kept a photo of JWB on the mantle. Other than that, I think he was just a workaholic, working into the 1920's. He suffered two or three nervous breakdowns at his home in Vermont and appeared to shun most publicity or public events. 
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Nan
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« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2012, 06:23:20 PM »

Thanks for the info, Joe.  I'm sure a memoir by Robert would have been facinating but, from what I've read, it seems that he thought himself the guardian of the family's privacy (the story about him burning family correspondence, etc.).  I know almost nothing about Robert except his later contentous relationship with Mary.  Any suggestions on a good biography?
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Nan
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« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2012, 06:29:37 PM »

     I enjoyed "Robert Todd Lincoln - A Man In His Own Right". It was very informative and covered all areas of his life. Laurie recently mentioned a new one is out that sounds very interesting. Laurie?   
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BCorbett1865
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« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2012, 07:07:43 PM »

Goff's biography is A plus. I bought it at Hildene a number of years back and find myself referring to it often. I will have to check out Emerson's.

Craig
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EB
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« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2012, 04:23:31 PM »

I'm currently reading the Emerson book. I'm about half way through. I would certainly recommend it. It does delve very deeply into the "workaholic" stage of his later years and, for me, that's a little bit dull. But there's a lot of interesting info in it (and PLENTY of notes!) 

A word of caution, though:  It's obvious Emerson really admires Robert Lincoln. His good opinion of him definitely comes across. I don't mind that, since I'm kind of fond of "Bob" myself. But the sometimes overt idolatry might bother someone with other opinions. (Or, it might change their mind??)
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BoothBuff
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« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2012, 07:33:36 PM »

     I felt the same way about Goff's biography EB. He clearly admired RTL. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. RTL was a generous man, taking care of his family and making his own way without clinging to Abe's coattails. His life was an interesting one also. Losing 3 brothers, his father, having to commit his mother and eventually losing his own 16 year old son had to have been very sobering and undoubtedly added to his reputation as being taciturn and moody. What I admire most about him was his dedication to keeping the memory of his father alive and his generosity. I saw an auction years ago that contained a schoolboy's letter to him from the early 1920's asking for Lincoln's signature. RTL sent one, cut from a check, (most he sent were cut, due to his obsession with protecting the family privacy) and a note stating it was one of the very few he had left. Not the cold hearted man his is made out to be sometimes.

     In his last years, whenever he travelled to Washington, he would make his driver pass the Lincoln Memorial and stop in front of it. He would just stare and say, "It's beautiful, isn't it?"       
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EB
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« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2012, 05:48:44 PM »

Another thing I like about him is that he inherited his father's sense of humor. The Emerson book illustrates that with quotes from various letters. I've chuckled out loud over several of them.
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