LINCOLN, ROBERT TODD

Lincoln's Son Robert to Lincoln's Biographer Hay

Item #19019


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LINCOLN, ROBERT TODD - Lincoln's Son Robert to Lincoln's Biographer Hay
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LINCOLN, ROBERT TODD - Lincoln's Son Robert to Lincoln's Biographer Hay

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LINCOLN, ROBERT TODD. (1843-1926). American Secretary of War and eldest son of President Abraham Lincoln. ALS. (“R.T.L.”). 1p. Oblong 12mo. [Washington], N.d. (between 1881 and 1885). On an engraved War Department card. To President Lincoln’s secretary and biographer JOHN M. HAY (1838-1905).

 

My Dear John, The hour is 6:30. I do not think Jesse is to be ill [?] but of late I find Mrs. Lincoln concerned about her. I will say so of course – I have no… expectation.…

 

Of Abraham and Mary Lincoln’s four sons, only the eldest, Robert, survived to adulthood. After attending Harvard and studying law in Chicago, Robert was active in Republican politics and served as Secretary of War from 1881-1885 under presidents James Garfield and Benjamin Harrison. From 1889 to 1893 he was Benjamin Harrison’s ambassador to the United Kingdom. Robert was with his father at the time of his death and, oddly, was an eyewitness to President Garfield’s assassination. He was also present at the Pan-American Exposition where President McKinley was assassinated, though he did not witness the event. In another unusual coincidence, Robert’s life was saved by actor Edwin Booth, the brother of his father’s future assassin, after he slipped between a train car and the Jersey City station platform in 1863 or 1864. Robert Lincoln’s marriage to Mary Eunice Harlan(1846-1937), the daughter of a Senator he had been courting in secret, was delayed by his father’s death and the imposed period of mourning. After they married in 1868, they had three children. Jessie Harlan Lincoln (1875-1948), mentioned in our note, was the youngest. She was born in Chicago and spent her childhood in Washington, London and Iowa, where, in 1897, she eloped with a football player much to the dismay of her family who disapproved of the match.

 

Hay was President Lincoln’s secretary and biographer. A young attorney from Springfield, he had helped Lincoln campaign for office. Although Hay was officially employed by the Interior Department, he lived in the White House where he was at the president’s disposal, tending to presidential correspondence and composing many letters for the president to sign. Additionally, he acted as Lincoln’s emissary, entrusted with such missions as gathering information about ironclad vessels used during the Civil War. At the conclusion of Lincoln’s first term, the exhausted secretary resigned and was rewarded with a diplomatic post in Paris, but Lincoln was assassinated before Hay was to leave for Europe. He was with Lincoln when he died and remained to help organize his papers to which Robert Lincoln would later grant him and Nicolay exclusive access to write Abraham Lincoln: A History and the Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln.

 

Hay subsequently enjoyed a diplomatic career before becoming Horace Greeley’s assistant editor at the New York Tribune. After his 1874 marriage to Clara Stone, daughter of wealthy Cleveland industrialist Amasa Stone, Hay relocated to Cleveland’s “Millionaire’s Row” where he helped manage Stone’s money and focus on writing. After a lengthy hiatus he served as U.S. Ambassador to Britain’s Court of St. James from 1897 to 1898, a position previously held by Robert Todd Lincoln. In 1898, his friend, President McKinley, appointed him secretary of state, a post he held until his death in 1905.

 

With a vertical crease and some toning and wear. In very good condition.

 

Item #19019


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