Most Favorable Child of President Abraham Lincoln – William Wallace Lincoln

William Wallace Lincoln was born on December 21, 1850, in Springfield Illinois to Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln, he was more like his father Abraham Lincoln than his older brother Robert Todd Lincoln. William Wallace had the same magnetic personality as Abraham Lincoln. A 16 years old girl, Julia Taft, described Willie as “the most lovable boy I ever knew, bright, sensible, sweet-tempered and gentle-mannered. 

The reason behind the Pampered Child – William Wallace Lincoln

William Wallace Lincoln was born about ten months after his brother Eddie died on February 1, 1850. Willie was named after Dr.William Wallace, husband of Mary’s sister Frances, and the physician who nursed Eddie Lincoln in his final days.

Abraham Lincoln was frequently arguing cases on the Illinois Eighth judicial circuit when the eldest son Robert was growing up. The work kept Abraham Lincoln away from home, he never developed a close bond with Robert. By the 1850s, the development of the railroad allowed him to stay in Springfield on weekends, and he grew very close to Willie and his younger brother Tad. Both the parents were fiercely proud of their children.

Abraham Lincoln’s Playful  Kid – William Wallace

William Herndon, Abraham Lincoln’s law partner, said they would take any chance to “get them to monkey around – talk – -dance-speak – quote poetry, etc. their father Abraham Lincoln would talk the boys on wagon rider through Springfield and help with the babysitting, an unusual practice for men at the time, Abraham Lincoln was especially fond of Willie, who he felt had a mind like his own, and those who know the boy considered him intelligent, generous and kind-hearted

Schooling and other Interest

In Springfield, Willie attended a Private School operated by Miss. Corcoran. Like Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln, Willie loved learning. Willie developed many interests, including writing Poetry and drawing up railroad timetables. He had an excellent natural ability in Math. Additionally, Mary said Willie was “ a most peculiarly religious child”. He was more studious than his younger brother Tad.

Father and Son – an official trip to Chicago

On June 9, 1859, Willie went to Chicago with his father Abraham Lincoln, who had legal business there.. Willie wrote a letter to his friend, Henry Reimann, about his experience. In his letter, Willie said, “ This town is a very beautiful place, I and my father have a nice little room to ourselves. We have two little pitchers on a washstand. The smallest one for me and the largest for my father. We have two little towels on top of both pitchers. The smallest one for me, the largest one for father, me and father had gone to two theaters the other night.

Lincoln’s Family in White House

Abraham Lincoln moved with his family to the White House in March 1861. Willie and Tad had a great time in their new home. Willie was calmer and more conscientious than his younger brother. The boys loved animals, and gifts of dogs, rabbits, goats, and ponies poured into the White House. Because of the times, War-related games were popular with the boys, and they constructed a fort on the White House roof. Willie and Tad often accompanied their father Abraham Lincoln when he reviewed the troops in their camps. Additionally, they went with their mother when she took the fruit, books, papers, and other gifts to the soldiers.

The two did have a mischievous streak, when Abraham Lincoln brought them to roam freely, the children would turn over furniture and papers, to Herdon’s consternation. During Abraham Lincoln’s train ride to Washington in 1861, Willie and Tad would ask visitors, “Do you want to see Old Abe?” and point to someone else.

The Public was not used to having children in the White House, they showered the boys with presents. Willie received a pony to which he was devoted and both boys loved to imitate the soldiers posted on the south lawn. When he could break away from the pressures of the office, Abraham Lincoln would often play with his children. A visitor once found Willie and Tad (2 of his friends) pinning the President of the United States to the floor.

Mrs. Lincoln hired a tutor for the boys, Willie’s mind was amazingly mature for his age, whereas Tad seems to have disliked the lessons, Willie loved learning.

Helpless Ending- The death of William Wallace Lincoln

In Feb 1862, both the boys became ill, most likely with typhoid fever, possibly from drinking polluted water in the White House, while Tad recovered, Willie gradually declined. Both the parents spent much time at his bedside, the young boy William Wallace died on Thursday, Feb 20, 1862, at 5 p.m at age 11. Abraham Lincoln said, “My poor boy, he was too good for this earth, God has called him home. I know that he is much better off in heaven, but then we loved him so, it is hard, hard to have him die!”.

Funeral of William Wallace Lincoln

The funeral was very touching of the entertainment’s in the east room, the boy had been the most life-giving variation- He was Abraham Lincoln’s very favorite son, there sat the man with a burden on the brain at which the world marvels- bent – staggering under a blow like the taking from him of his child.

Willie was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown. After the assassination of his father in 1865, Willie’s casket was exhumed and his remains were placed on Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train which traveled back to Springfield. Willie’s remains were placed in the public receiving vault at Oak Ridge Cemetery along with his father on May 4, 1865. On December 21, 1865, the remains were moved to a temporary tomb. On September 19, 1871, the remains of Abraham, Eddie, and Willie were moved to the permanent tomb.

Gone was the only child of Abraham Lincoln, who possessed the amiable demeanor of his father, One family friend called “the most lovable boy I ever knew, bright, sensible, sweet-tempered and gentle-mannered”.

Gone was the boy who had shown his father’s command of the language in a poem he had submitted to the National Republican Newspaper about the death of a family friend who died in the battle.

Gone was the boy who had roamed around the White House with his younger brother, devising mischievous pranks and building a play fort on the mansion’s roof.

The grievance of the parents

William Wallace Lincoln’s death devastated his parents, Mary Todd Lincoln could not bring herself to attend his funeral and remained bedridden for three weeks. She would not emerge in public for months afterward. Abraham Lincoln, who stayed at Willie’s side through his illness, would shut himself in his room after his son’s funeral to weep, often had dreams of spending time with his son. He never fully recovered from the loss. On the day of his assassination, Abraham Lincoln told his wife that they must be more cheerful as “between the war and the loss of our darling Willie, we have both been very miserable”.

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