Thomas "Tad" Lincoln III (April 4, 1853 – July 15, 1871) was an American child who was the fourth and youngest son of
Abraham Abraham, ''Ibrāhīm''; el, Ἀβραάμ, translit=Abraám, name=, group= (originally Abram) is the common patriarch of the Abrahamic religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In Judaism, he is the founding father of the covenan ...

Mary Todd Lincoln Mary Ann Lincoln ( Todd; December 13, 1818 – July 16, 1882) was the wife of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, and as such the First Lady of the United States from 1861 to 1865. Today, she is commonly known as Mary ...

Mary Todd Lincoln
. The nickname "Tad" was given to him by his father, who observed that he had a large head and was "as wiggly as a tadpole" when he was a baby. Tad Lincoln was known to be impulsive and unrestrained, and he did not attend school during his father's lifetime. He had free run of the
White House The White House is the official residence and workplace of the president of the United States. It is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington, D.C., NW in Washington, D.C., and has been the residence of every U.S. preside ...

White House
, and there are stories of him interrupting presidential meetings, collecting animals, and charging visitors to see his father. He died unexpectedly of an illness at the age of 18 on July 15, 1871, in
Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive map of Chicago , coordinates = , coordinates_footnotes = , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name ...


Early life and education

Thomas Lincoln III was born on April 4, 1853, the fourth son of
Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln (; February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American statesman and lawyer who served as the 16th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of governme ...

Abraham Lincoln
Mary Todd Mary may refer to: People * Mary (name), a feminine given name (includes a list of people with the name) Religious contexts * New Testament people named Mary, overview article linking to many of those below * Mary, mother of Jesus, also called ...

Mary Todd
. His three elder brothers were
Robert The name Robert is an ancient Germanic given nameGermanic given names are traditionally dithematic; that is, they are formed from two elements, by joining a prefix A prefix is an affix which is placed before the stem of a word. Adding it ...

Edward Edward is an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the Worl ...
(1846–1850), and
William William is a male Male (symbol: ♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete (sex cell) known as sperm, which fuses with the larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertilization. A male organism cannot sexual reproducti ...

(1850–1862). Named after his paternal grandfather
Thomas Lincoln Thomas Lincoln (January 6, 1778 – January 17, 1851) was an American farmer, carpenter, and father of the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln (; February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American sta ...
and uncle Thomas Lincoln, Jr., the fourth boy was soon nicknamed "Tad" by his father, for his small body and large head, and because he wiggled like a
tadpole A tadpole is the larval stage A larva (plural larvae ) is a distinct juvenile form many animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), biological kingdom Animalia. With ...
as an infant.Wead (2003), pp. 89–90. Lincoln's first name has occasionally been erroneously recorded as Thaddeus. Lincoln was born with a form of
cleft lip and palate A cleft lip contains an opening in the upper lip Lips are a visible body part at the mouth of many animals, including humans. Lips are soft, movable, and serve as the opening for food intake and in the articulation of sound and speech. Hu ...
, causing him speech problems throughout his life. He had a
lisp Lisp (historically LISP) is a family of programming language A programming language is a formal language In logic, mathematics, computer science, and linguistics, a formal language consists of string (computer science), words whose symbo ...

and delivered his words rapidly and unintelligibly.Hutchinson (2009), para. 2. Often only those close to Lincoln were able to understand him.Hutchinson (2009), para. 11.Bayne (2001), p. 3. For example, he called his father's bodyguard, William H. Crook, "Took," and his father "Papa Day" instead of "Papa Dear."Hutchinson (2009), para. 16. The cleft palate contributed to uneven teeth; he had such difficulty chewing food that his meals were specially prepared.Hutchinson (2009), para. 22. Lincoln and his brother Willie were considered "notorious hellions" during the period they lived in Springfield. They were recorded by their father's law partner William Herndon as having turned their law office upside down, pulling the books off the shelves, while their father appeared oblivious to their behavior.Wead (2003), p. 90.

White House years

Upon their father's election as President, both Tad and Willie moved into the White House and it became their new playground and home. At the request of Mrs. Lincoln,
Julia Taft Julia Ann Vadala Taft (July 27, 1942 – March 15, 2008) was a United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in N ...
brought her younger brothers, 14-year-old "Bud" (Horatio Nelson Taft Jr., 1847–1915) and 12-year-old "Holly" (Halsey Cook Taft, 1849–1897), to the White House, and they became playmates of the two young Lincolns.Wead (2003), p. 91.Bayne (2001), pp. 1–3. In February 1862, both Lincoln boys contracted
typhoid fever Typhoid fever, also known as typhoid, is a disease caused by ''Salmonella ''Salmonella'' is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extant taxon, living an ...
and both boys were bedridden. Willie died on February 20, while Tad recovered. However he cried for a month, not only for his brother's death, but for the loss of his other two playmates Bud and Holly, for his mother sent them away after Willie's death, because they reminded her too much of him. After Willie's death, Tad's parents became even more lenient toward Tad's behavior, and Tad spent nearly all his time with his father.Wead (2003), pp. 91–92. During the time his father was alive, Tad was impulsive, unrestrained, and did not attend school.
John Hay John Milton Hay (October 8, 1838July 1, 1905) was an American statesman and official whose career in government stretched over almost half a century. Beginning as a private secretary A private secretary (PS) is a civil servant The civil s ...

John Hay
wrote that the boy's numerous tutors in the White House usually quit in frustration. Tad had free run of the White House, and there are stories of him interrupting presidential meetings, collecting animals, charging visitors to see his father, and more. On April 14, 1865, Tad went to Grover's Theatre to see the play ''Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp'' while his parents attended the performance of
Tom Taylor Tom Taylor (19 October 1817 – 12 July 1880) was an English dramatist A playwright or dramatist is a person who writes play (theatre), plays. Etymology The word "play" is from Middle English pleye, from Old English plæġ, pleġa, plæ ...

Tom Taylor
's play ''
Our American Cousin ''Our American Cousin'' is a three-act play by English playwright Tom Taylor. It is a farce featuring awkward, boorish American Asa Trenchard, who is introduced to his aristocratic English relatives when he goes to England to claim the family est ...
'' at
Ford's Theatre Ford's Theatre is a theater located in Washington, D.C. ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument The Washington Monument is an obelisk within the National Mall ...

Ford's Theatre
. That night, his father was assassinated by
Confederate Confederacy may refer to: A confederation, an association of sovereign states or communities. Examples include: * Battle of the Trench, Confederate tribes * Confederate States of America, a confederation of secessionist American states that existed ...

John Wilkes Booth John Wilkes Booth (May 10, 1838 – April 26, 1865) was an American stage actor who assassinated Assassination is the act of murder, deliberately killing a prominent or important person, such as heads of state, head of government, heads of g ...

John Wilkes Booth
. When news of the assassination spread to Grover's Theatre, the manager made an announcement to the entire audience. Tad began running and screaming: "They killed Papa! They killed Papa!" Tad was escorted back to the White House, while his mother pleaded to have him brought to his father's deathbed at the
Petersen House The Petersen House is a 19th-century federal style row house located at 516 10th Street NW in Washington, D.C. On April 15, 1865, United States President Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln (; February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an ...

Petersen House
. "Bring Tad—he will speak to Tad—he loves him so." Late that night, an inconsolable Tad was put to bed by a White House doorman.Wead (2003), p. 93. President Lincoln died the next morning, on Saturday, April 15, at 7:22 am. About the death of his father, Tad said:
Pa is dead. I can hardly believe that I shall never see him again. I must learn to take care of myself now. Yes, Pa is dead, and I am only Tad Lincoln now, little Tad, like other little boys. I am not a president's son now. I won't have many presents anymore. Well, I will try and be a good boy, and will hope to go someday to Pa and brother Willie, in Heaven.Wead (2003), pp. 93–94.

Later life

After the assassination, Mary, Robert, and Tad Lincoln lived together in Chicago. Robert moved out after a short time, and Tad began attending school. In 1868, they left Chicago and lived in Europe for almost three years, in Germany and later in England. Lincoln suffered from what one modern commentator has called a "complex speech and language disorder" related to some form of a cleft lip or palate. This caused some problems when Lincoln was in school in Chicago. While at the
Elizabeth Street School The Elizabeth Street School is a historic school building at 31 Elizabeth Street in Worcester, Massachusetts. Built in 1893, it was one of the first commissions for the city by local architect George Clemence, and is stylistically an eclectic mix o ...
, his schoolmates sometimes called him "Stuttering Tad" because of the speech impediment, which he was able to learn how to manage as a teenager.


On Saturday morning, July 15, 1871, Lincoln died at the age of 18 at the Clifton House hotel in Chicago. The cause of death has been variously referred to as
tuberculosis Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease An infection is the invasion of an organism's body Tissue (biology), tissues by Pathogen, disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host (biology), host tissues to the in ...

, a attack,
pneumonia Pneumonia is an inflammatory Inflammatory may refer to: * Inflammation, a biological response to harmful stimuli * The word ''inflammatory'' is also used to refer literally to fire and flammability, and figuratively in relation to comments t ...

, or
congestive heart failure Heart failure (HF), also known as congestive heart failure (CHF) and (congestive) cardiac failure (CCF), is a set of manifestations caused by the failure of the heart The heart is a cardiac muscle, muscular Organ (biology), organ in mos ...
. (quoting Milton Shutes, "Mortality of the Five Lincoln Boys", ''Lincoln Herald'', vol. 57 (Spring 1955), p. 7.) In an obituary,
John Hay John Milton Hay (October 8, 1838July 1, 1905) was an American statesman and official whose career in government stretched over almost half a century. Beginning as a private secretary A private secretary (PS) is a civil servant The civil s ...

John Hay
affectionately referred to him as "Little Tad." Funeral services were held for Lincoln in his brother Robert's home in Chicago. His body was transported to Springfield and buried in the
Lincoln Tomb The Lincoln Tomb is the final resting place of the 16th President of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the Fede ...

Lincoln Tomb
Oak Ridge Cemetery Oak Ridge Cemetery is an American cemetery in Springfield, Illinois. The Lincoln Tomb, where Abraham Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln, his wife and all but one of their children lie, is here, as are the graves of other prominent Illinois figures. Thus, i ...
, alongside his father and two of his brothers. Robert accompanied the casket on the train, but Mary was too distraught to make the trip.Davenport, pages 153 –154

Screen portrayals

On film and television Tad Lincoln has been portrayed by, * Newton Hall in ''
The Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln ''The Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln'' is a 1924 American feature film directed by Phil Rosen and written by Frances Marion. By the date of release, the film's title was shortened to ''Abraham Lincoln'', since the previous title was regarded as ...
'' (1924) * Gordon Thorpe in ''
Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln (; February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American statesman and lawyer who served as the 16th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of governme ...
'' (1930) * Dickie Moore in '' Lincoln in the White House'' (1939, Short) * Henry Blair in ''Abe Lincoln in Illinois (film), Abe Lincoln in Illinois'' (1940) * John Levin in ''Lincoln'' (1974) * Robby Benson in ''The Last of Mrs. Lincoln'' (1976) * Troy Sweeney in ''Lincoln (miniseries), Lincoln'' (1988) * Bug Hall in ''Tad'' (1995) * Adam Lamberg in ''The Day Lincoln Was Shot'' (1998) * Gulliver McGrath in ''Lincoln (film), Lincoln'' (2012) * Joshua Rush in ''Saving Lincoln'' (2013) * Benjamin Perkinson in ''Killing Lincoln (film), Killing Lincoln'' (2013)

See also

* Lincoln family tree




* * * *

External links

Tad Lincoln – brief biography
{{DEFAULTSORT:Lincoln, Thomas 1853 births 1871 deaths American people of English descent American people of Scottish descent Burials at Oak Ridge Cemetery Children of presidents of the United States Lincoln family People from Springfield, Illinois