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Abraham Lincoln's Son and Assassinations (1864 - 1901)

by Ron Kurtus (12 May 2012)

Robert Todd Lincoln was the oldest son of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. He led a distinguished life in both business and government. However, he was either present or nearby when three presidential assassinations occurred: Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, and William McKinley.

Because of these strange coincidences, he refused later presidential invitations to avoid the chances of something bad happening again.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

In late 1864, Robert Lincoln was saved from being killed or seriously injured when he fell between a moving train and the platform. The person who grabbed him and pulled him to safety was Edwin Booth, brother of John Wilkes Booth. This happen several months before John Wilkes Booth assassinated Robert's father.

On the evening that Lincoln was assassinated on April 11, 1865, Robert was near the Ford Theatre and arrived shortly afterwards.

Assassination of James A. Garfield

Robert Lincoln was U.S. President James A. Garfield's Secretary of War. On July 2, 1881, Lincoln was walking along with President Garfield and several others toward Williams College, where Garfield was schedule to give a speech.

At the Sixth Street Train Station in Washington, D.C., Lincoln saw Charles J. Guiteau shoot President Garfield, who died soon afterward from an infection from the wound.

Assassination of William McKinley

On September 6, 1901 Robert was invited by President William McKinley to the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, where the President was giving a speech. An anarchist, Leon F. Czolgosz, then shot President McKinley twice in the abdomen. Lincoln was nearby but did not witness the shooting.

McKinley seemed to recover but soon died of septic poisoning.


Robert Lincoln, eldest son of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, had his life saved by the brother of John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated his father. Robert was near the Ford Theatre when the assassination occurred. Robert witnessed the assassination of President James A. Garfield and was nearby when William McKinley was shot. Because of these strange coincidences, he refused other presidential invitations.

Lessons learned:

Strange things can happen

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(Notice: The School for Champions may earn commissions from book purchases)

Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard; Henry Holt and Co. (2011) - Best seller

Top-rated books on Abraham Lincoln

Top-rated books on James A. Garfield

Top-rated books on William McKinley

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