Family and Early Life
Lincoln graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1860, then studied at Harvard University from 1861 to 1864, where he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon (Alpha chapter). He then enrolled in Harvard Law School but did not graduate. Much to the embarrassment of the President, Mary Todd Lincoln prevented Robert Lincoln from joining the Union Army until shortly before the war's conclusion in 1865. He held the rank of captain, serving in the last weeks of the American Civil War as part of General Ulysses S. Grant's immediate staff, a position which sharply minimized the likelihood that he would be involved in actual combat. He was present at Appomattox when Lee surrendered.
Lincoln had a distant relationship with his father, in part because Abraham Lincoln spent months on the judicial circuit during his formative years. Robert would later say his most vivid image of his father was of his packing his saddlebags to prepare for his travels through Illinois. Abraham Lincoln was proud of Robert and thought him bright, but also saw him as something of a competitor, and someone once said, "he guessed Bob would not do better than he had." The two lacked the strong bond Lincoln had with his sons Willie and Tad, but Robert deeply admired his father and wept openly at his deathbed.
Following his father's assassination, in April 1865, Robert moved with his mother and his brother Tad to Chicago, where Robert completed his law studies at the Old University of Chicago (a school different from, but whose name was later assumed by, the university currently known by that name). He was admitted to the bar on February 25, 1867.
On September 24, 1868, Robert married the former Mary Eunice Harlan (September 25, 1846 – March 31, 1937), the daughter of Senator James Harlan and Ann Eliza Peck of Mount Pleasant, Iowa. They had two daughters and one son.
- Mary "Mamie" Lincoln (October 15, 1869 – November 21, 1938)
- Abraham Lincoln II (nicknamed "Jack") (August 14, 1873 – March 5, 1890)
- Jessie Harlan Lincoln (November 6, 1875 – January 4, 1948)
His mother's "spend-thrift" ways and eccentric behavior concerned Robert Lincoln. Fearing that his mother was a danger to herself, he arranged to have her committed to a psychiatric hospital in Batavia, Illinois in 1875. With his mother in the hospital, he was left with control of her finances. On May 20, 1875, she arrived at Bellevue Place, a private, upscale sanitarium in the Fox River Valley. Three months after being installed in Bellevue Place, Mary Lincoln engineered her escape. She smuggled letters to her lawyer, James B. Bradwell, and his wife, Myra Bradwell, who was not only her friend but also a feminist lawyer and fellow spiritualist. She also wrote to the editor of the Chicago Times, known for its sensational journalism. Soon, the public embarrassments Robert had hoped to avoid were looming, and his character and motives were in question. The director of Bellevue, who at Mary’s trial had assured the jury she would benefit from treatment at his facility, now in the face of potentially damaging publicity declared her well enough to go to Springfield to live with her sister as she desired. The committal proceedings led to a profound estrangement between Lincoln and his mother, and they never fully reconciled.
Read more about this topic: Robert Todd Lincoln
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