Robert Todd Lincoln Was Connected To Three Assassinations

“The only thing I ever learned was that some people are lucky and other people aren’t and not even a graduate of the Harvard Business School can say why.” —Kurt Vonnegut

In A Nutshell

The oldest son of Abraham Lincoln, Robert Todd Lincoln, was the only one of Lincoln’s children to live into adulthood. But apparently while he lived until 1926, he was extremely bad luck for presidents, as he was connected to three assassinations, including his father’s. In addition to Honest Abe, Robert was also present at the assassinations of both James Garfield and William McKinley.

The Whole Bushel

There’s something to be said about a guy being plain old bad luck. That’s not to say that Robert Todd Lincoln, the eldest child of president Abraham Lincoln and the only one of Honest Abe’s children to live to adulthood, was bad luck per se. That is, unless you were a president, because then he was apparently the last person you’d want to have hanging around. That’s because including his own father’s assassination, Robert Todd Lincoln was also a firsthand witness to the killings of two other presidents: James Garfield and William McKinley. Unfortunately for Robert, he actually began to view himself as bad luck after being connected to three presidential assassinations.

Of course, one of the other amazing connections to these assassinations is the fact that prior to Abe being killed, Robert had been saved by the brother of John Wilkes Booth, meaning his connection began a year ahead of the first such assassination. After the death of his father, which he did not witness after declining an invitation to join his mother and father at Ford’s Theater, he followed in his father’s footsteps and became a lawyer.

He had actually begun attending Harvard Law School prior to his father’s death, only taking a break to serve as a captain under Ulysses Grant in the Civil War. He later became one of the charter members of the Chicago Bar Association, and earned a spot in Garfield’s cabinet, serving as the secretary of war from 1881 to 1885. Overall, he was an extremely successful man, later being appointed by president Benjamin Harrison as minister to Great Britain.

It was in his role working for Garfield that he found himself in the president’s presence when he was shot and killed in 1881, but then he found himself at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, in 1901. He was no longer working for the government, instead serving as the acting president of the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago, so it was really just a bit of a horrible coincidence that he found himself on hand when William McKinley was shot at the Expo.

For all of the tremendous personal success Robert Todd Lincoln enjoyed, it does seem more than a bit odd that darkness seemed to hover over him like a cloud, beginning with the fact that his siblings all died before reaching adulthood, his father was shot and killed, and had to have his own mother committed to an institution after she was declared insane. Of course she and her lawyers had the ruling overturned, more or less ruining the relationship between mother and son, and casting further darkness over Robert’s life.

Show Me The Proof

Robert Todd Lincoln: biography