Hey everyone. Today’s Mystery Monday post is a bit different. This is the first post regarding strange coincidences. I plan to write a few of them now and then. After all, coincidences are often mysterious.
A few weeks ago, when I posted about Lincoln’s ghost, I was reminded of a story about his son, Robert Todd Lincoln. I had always wondered if what I’d heard was true, so I decided to check it out. Turns out it was.
Robert Todd Lincoln was the eldest son of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. He was born in 1843 and died in 1926. Robert was the only one of Lincoln’s four sons to live to adulthood. The others, Edward, Willie, and Thomas all died due to illness.
Unlike the others, Robert didn’t have a close relationship with his father. Late in his life, he wrote, “During my childhood and early youth he was almost constantly away from home, attending courts or making political speeches. In 1859, when I was 16 … I went to New Hampshire to school and afterward to Harvard College, and he became president. Henceforth any great intimacy between us became impossible. I scarcely even had 10 minutes quiet talk with him during his presidency, on account of his constant devotion to business.”
Robert attended Harvard Law but joined the Union Army late in the war, commissioned in the rank of captain. After his father’s death, he moved to Chicago, where he opened a law firm. He became quite successful by the 1870s.
Although he remained close to politics, he didn’t have the same aspirations as his father. He turned down President Rutherford B. Hayes’s offer to serve as Secretary of State but later accepted President James Garfield’s appointment as Secretary of War. Lincoln served in this capacity from 1881 – 1885. He also served as minister to Great Britain under President Benjamin Harrison.
On the night of April 14, 1865, Robert turned down an offer to accompany his parents to Ford’s Theater. After learning about his father’s assassination, he rushed to Peterson House and was present at his father’s deathbed.
On July 2, 1881, Lincoln was at the Sixth Street Train Station in Washington, D.C., when Charles G. Guiteau shot President James Garfield. Robert was an eyewitness to the event.
On September 6, 1901, Lincoln was at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, when President William McKinley was assassinated. Although he was not an eyewitness, he was outside the building where the shooting occurred.
In our nation’s history, only four presidents have been assassinated. Was it coincidence Robert Lincoln was present at three of them? He later refused to attend presidential functions, believing he brought bad luck.
In another strange coincidence, before his father’s murder, Lincoln was saved from possible death or serious injury on a train platform in Jersey City, New Jersey. The person who saved him? Edwin Booth, brother of John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln’s assassin.
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