The tragic story of Tad Lincoln

Some stories are praised by historians while some stories are lost in dusty pages of history. History is witness that only the stories of winners are appreciated while the story of weak ones is hardly paid any heed. One such story is of Thomas Lincoln, the fourth son of President Abraham Lincoln whose life was tragically cut short by tuberculosis. Like his father, Thomas fondly called as Tad wasn’t successful to carry forward the legacy of President Lincoln. His childhood had little happy times and the rest of his short life went in tragic loneliness. When I read about Tad Lincoln, I felt that his story deserved to be told.

Photo of Tad Lincoln

Photo of Tad Lincoln

Born on April 4th 1853, Thomas Lincoln was the fourth child of President Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln. The birth of Thomas was a happy gift for Lincolns’ as they had lost their second child Eddie due to tuberculosis. Since Thomas used to crawl like a tadpole in his infant days, he was fondly nicknamed as Tad by President Lincoln. Lincoln’s kids – William and Tad both were mischievous and used to play around white house. They used to perform various mischievous acts like disturbing important meetings, ringing the White house bell and pulling off the books from the shelves. Many White house members complained to Lincoln about his children’s mischievous actions, but Lincoln was never strict towards his kids. He always wanted to give them a happy and lovely childhood time. Though Lincoln was lenient towards his kids, Mary was bit strict and concerned about her kids’ mischievous nature. The happy days of Lincoln kids were soon to be numbered.

Tad with his father Lincoln

Tad with his father Lincoln

February 1862 marked the beginning of tragedy in Lincoln Family. Both the kids William and Tad became sick due to typhoid fever. Of the two kids, only Tad recovered from tuberculosis. William succumbed to the sickness and breathed his last. This was a second tragic blow for President Lincoln and Mary. After this tragic event, Mary became more aloof and spent her times in memories of William. Tad had not only lost a brother but also a playmate in William. Even the children of one of White house staff were banished from home. Seeing his loneliness, President Lincoln decided to spend more time with Tad. Even in this tragic time, Lincoln was equally paying attention to White house as well as his family. Though Mary had gone into shock, Lincoln couldn’t forget his duties as a president of United States. He played with Tad and filled his lonely moments with affection and happiness. Now Tad had found a new friend in his father. But Tad’s misfortunes hadn’t ended. President Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth in Ford’s theatre.

A rare photo of grown up Tad Lincoln

A rare photo of grown up Tad Lincoln

Tad had lost his fatherly figure. The whole nation was mourning on Lincoln’s death. Nation had lost a leader. Now Tad was really alone in true sense. He was no more a President’s kid. He won’t get the special attention as he received during his father’s time in white house. Tad had spent the best times with his family at White house.
Though he had a mother and an elder brother to care for him, he couldn’t share that bond that he shared with William and his father.

Statue of President Lincoln and his son Tad

Statue of President Lincoln and his son Tad

Tad was not so intelligent in his studies and was very hard to be tutored. Mary Lincoln was very concerned about her son’s education. With the passing times, Tad grew. Robert, the elder son of President Lincoln was paying special attention to bond with Tad. But the tragic, melancholic and uneventful life of Tad came to an end with his untimely death due to tuberculosis on July 15th 1871. Tad was just 18. Among the Lincolns’ only Robert Lincoln survived till the last. Mary Todd was too shocked to attend the burial ground where her Little Tad now rested in peace in a true sense.

Tad’s best times were spent in White house with his father and brother William. Historians wrote about Lincoln family and that is the only part where Tad’s story can be read. President Lincoln was not only an efficient political personality, but he was also a caring father who never imposed his parental stress on his kids. Tad Lincoln though had a short & happy childhood; he lived to the fullest in the care of his parents.

The role of Tad was played by Gulliver Mcgrath in 2012 movie - Lincoln

The role of Tad was played by Gulliver Mcgrath in 2012 movie – Lincoln

Tad Lincoln’s story was made into a Hollywood TV movie – Tad which was based on Tad Lincoln’s childhood times in White house.

I felt an urge to pen down the tragic story of Tad Lincoln which was though uneventful, but never went unnoticed. I hope that I have succeeded a little to tell this story of a great president’s son who yearned for affection.

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One thought on “The tragic story of Tad Lincoln

  1. Indeed a sad and tragic tale of an almost forgotten character of history who lost his life and future a tad too early…even before he started to live it..Beautiful work, Prashant…

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