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William Wallace Lincoln

William Lincoln
William Lincoln c. 1855
Born William Wallace Lincoln
(1850-12-21)December 21, 1850
Springfield, Illinois,
United States
Died February 20, 1862(1862-02-20) (aged 11)
Washington, D.C., United States
Parents Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln

William Wallace "Willie" Lincoln (December 21, 1850 – February 20, 1862) was the third son of Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln. He died of an illness at the age of 11. He was named after Mary's brother-in-law Dr. William Wallace.


  • Springfield years 1
  • White House years 2
  • Final illness and death of William 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Springfield years

Willie and his younger brother Tad were considered "notorious hellions" during the period they lived in Springfield. They were recorded by Abraham's law partner William Herndon for turning their law office upside down; pulling the books off the shelves while their father appeared oblivious to their behavior.[1]

White House years

Upon their father's election as President both Willie and Tad moved into the White House and it became their new playground. At the request of Mrs. Lincoln, Julia Taft brought her younger brothers, 12-year-old "Bud" and 8-year-old "Holly" to the White House and they became playmates of Willie and Tad.[2][3]

Final illness and death of William

Willie and Tad both became ill in early 1862, and although Tad recovered, Willie's condition fluctuated from day to day. The most likely cause of the illness was typhoid fever, which was usually contracted by consumption of fecally contaminated food/water. The White House drew its water from the Potomac River, along which thousands of soldiers and horses were camped. Gradually Willie weakened, and both parents spent much time at his bedside. Finally, on Thursday, February 20, 1862, at 5:00 p.m., Willie died. Abraham 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 much. It is hard, hard to have him die!"[4] Both parents were deeply affected. His father did not return to work for three weeks. Willie's younger brother, Tad, cried for nearly a month because he and Willie were very close. Lincoln generated no official correspondence for four days. Mary was so distraught that Lincoln feared for her sanity.

Willie was buried in his father's assassination in 1865, Willie's casket was exhumed and he was moved to a temporary tomb. He was re-interred at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois on September 19, 1871, alongside the remains of his father and his brothers, Tad and Eddie, holding a blue handkerchief. Mary Todd Lincoln was later buried in the same tomb.

See also


  1. ^ Wead (2003), p. 90.
  2. ^ Wead (2003), p. 91.
  3. ^ Bayne (2001), pp. 1–3.
  4. ^ Mr. Lincoln's White House: Prince of Wales Room. Retrieved on 2012-12-16.

External links

  • Photographs of Willie Lincoln
  • Willie Lincoln brief biography
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