Edward Lincoln (1846-50)

Figure 1.--This photograph of Eddy was first published in 1998 in "Lincoln's Photographs A Complete Album" by Lloyd Ostendorf. The photograph is owned by Keya Morgan of KEYA GALLERY in New York City who has kindly granted permission to use the image. For many years the image was overlooked in the collection of Herbert Wells Fay, an early custodian of the Lincoln Tomb in Springfield.

Historians commonly mention three of Lincoln's sons. His first boy, Eddy, is commonly if not forgotten, only mentioned in passing. The Lincoln's second son, Eddy was born on March 10, 1846, in the Lincoln home on Eighth and Jackson Streets. He was named after Edward Baker, a friend and political ally of Lincoln's. One authority tells us that, "Both Abraham and Mary only spelled his name Eddy in all letters they ever wrote." Eddy only lived to be 3 years and 10 months old. After a long illness he died in the family home on February 1, 1850. Because he died so young, little is known of his still-developing personality, only a few impressions of him have survived. Mrs. Lincoln wrote of an occasion when Robert brought home a kitten. When Eddy "spied it his tenderness broke forth, he made them bring it water, fed it with bread himself, with his own dear hands, he was a delighted little creature over it...." On the day that Lincoln said farewell to the people of Springfield as he left for the White House, he thought of Eddy. Summing up what Springfield had meant to him, he said: "To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything. Here I have lived a quarter of a century and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born and one is buried." Both Mary and Abraham were devastated over Eddy's death. The loss of this young child was perhaps the greatest tragedy of their lives and must have deeply affected both parents. .

Springfield (1846-47)

Lincoln's second son, Eddy was born on March 10, 1846, in the Lincoln home on Eighth and Jackson Streets. One authority tells us that, "Both Abraham and Mary only spelled his name Eddy in all letters they ever wrote." [Justin] By this time Lincoln's prospering law practice meant that Mary could afford help and many little luxuries of life. Thus Eddy was born into comfortable family circumstances. [Turner and Turner, p. 32.] Eddy's arrival transformed Mary. She had been very active in society help to further her husband's career. After Eddy arrived, Mary became much more domestic. [Baker, p. 105.] Lincoln's legal career meant that he was often away from home so Mary was largely responsible for raising the boys alone during her husband's protracted absences. Lincoln was an engaged father when he was at home in Springfield. In fact he delighted in playing with the boys, pulled them in carts, and often took them to the office with him. He also many times sat when Mary went to church or was out shopping. One thing he did not do was to take a switch to them when they were naughty. Rather he used reason--a formidable challenge with younger boys. [Baker, pp. 119-120.] Lincoln's relation with his boys was far different than was the common practice at the time. Men in the mid-19th century were often not engaged with younger children and corporal punishment rather than reason was much employed. Their second son is usually referred to as Eddy, but we note that his farther sometimes wrote Eddy. Eddy was named in honor of Edward D. Baker, a family friend and important early political associate of his father. Baker helped his father win a Congressional seat as a Whig candidate. Only a few month's after Eddy's birth, his father was elected to Congress (August 3, 1847).

Washington D.C. (1847-49)

The Lincoln family with a very young Eddy in tow set out for Washington D.C. (October 25, 1847). They stopped off in route at the Todd House (Mary's father) in Lexington. Mary wanted to show off both her Congressman husband as well as their two lively little boys. [Turner and Turner, p. 35.] Lincoln served only one term in Congress. As a one-term Congressman, his impact was minor. We do note that he opposed the Mexican War. The War was to lead to the acquisition of territory which inflamed the debate over slavery that led to the Civil War he was to inherit as president. Also notably he introduced a bill calling for the gradual end to slavery in the District of Colombia. The Lincoln's lived in cramped quarters of a boarding house operated by Mrs. Ann G. Sprigg and located conveniently on Capitol Hill. The 30th Congress convened (December 6, 1847). Surely attempting to live with two small, active children in the boarding house must have been a challenge. Mary was certainly unhappy living in the cramped boarding house. No doubt living in a boardinghouse together, Washington was not nearly as glamorous as Mary had imagined. Although we have few details, it is likely that she made his life miserable. We are not sure whose idea it was for Mary to return home. One biographer writes Lincoln suggested that Mary return home. [Sanburg, A.L., p. 392.] Another source suggest that it was Mrs. Lincoln's idea. [Turner and Turner, p. 35.]

Lexington (1848)

When her husband's term in Congress ending, Mary took the children (Robert and Eddy) and headed for her father's home in Lexington, Kentucky (Spring 1848). Eddy was just a baby. Interestingly after Mary and the boys were gone, Lincoln soon missed them. He writes Mary saying, "When you were here, I thought you hindered me some in attending to business; but now, having nothing but business--no vanity--it has grown exceedingly tasteless to me." His letter is full of references to the boys, especially Eddy. Apparently Eddy in Lexington took to saying that his father had "gone tapila". I'm not sure what that meant, perhaps that his father had gone to the capital. The letter is also interesting because Lincoln asks Mary not to address her letters to him with "Hon." Presumably he thought it ostentatious. Lincoln is anxious to know what the boys thought of his letters to them and ends the letter with "Don't let the blessed little fellows forget father." [A. Lincoln letter, April 16, 1848.] One rather gets the impression that he missed the boys more than his wife, but there is no way to really know. Mary and the boys did not rejoin Lincoln until October 1848.


We do not have a great deal of information about Eddy's childhood. Eddy by all accounts was an affectionate and delightful little boy. His temperament was quite different than his older brother Robert. His father delighted in playing with him. Mary reported to her husband that Eddy's older brother Robert, called Bobby, in his "wanderings" as boys often do, acquired a stay kitten. Mary was at the Todd home in Lexington at the time. Eddye was enchanted with the kitten when he saw it. Mrs. Lincoln wrote, ... so soon as Eddy spied it his tenderness broke forth, he made them bring it water, fed it with bread himself, with his own dear hands, he was a delighted little creature over it...." [M. Lincoln letter, May 1848] His mother's stepmother didn't like the "cat race" nor was she overly find of Mary Todd herself for that matter. She instructed a servant to get rid of the cat. Eddy through a fit, protesting loudly and vigorously. Mary writes that his screams were "long & loud, I assure you." Clearly the Lincoln's had a different approach to child rearing that Mary's step-mother. While in Lexington, Eddy suffered from a "little spell of sickness" which Mary reported to her husband. Mary Todd Lincoln had her enemies and detractors even before coming to Washington as First Lady. By all accounts, however, she was an adoring an attentive mother. [Sandburg, M.L., p. 66.] Thus Eddy in his short few years grew up in a loving family, much more child-friendly than was common at the time.


We have little information on Eddy's clothing. I only know of one photograph of Eddy pictured here. The clothing in the image is a little indistinct, but it appears to be a front buttoning dress with a little ruffled trim at the collar. I'm not sure, but he may be wearing long trousers with the dress. We also know that he wore, or at least his mother wanted him to wear, plaid stockings. Mary wrote to Lincoln from Lexington asking him to purchase them. Lincoln's dutifully writes back with a report in his shopping expeditions. [A. Lincoln letter, April 16, 1848.] Mary in one of her letters mentions all the clothing that the boys needed, especially in the summer. She mentions the "stiches". clothes herself. [M. Lincoln letter, May 1848.] Mary during the early years sewed her own dresses and many of the children's outfits. [Sandburg, M.L., p. 66.]


This photograph here shows Eddy at about age 3 years (figure 1). Keya Morgan tells us, "I bought it part of the Herbert Wells Fay collection which is the largest collection of Lincoln photographs in the world; estimated at $1.5 million. There are over 150 original photographs of President Lincoln, Mary, Willie, Tad. The Eddy photograph and many other Lincoln photographs were on display at the Lincoln tomb in Springfield, Ill. The state of Illinois sued Fay to get back the Eddy Lincoln and other photos, but they lost. The image is also inscribed "Edward Lincoln" in period ink on the inside of the snap-case." It would have been taken about 1849, one of the earliest photographs of a presidential child.

Springfield (1949-50)

Lincoln completed his term in Congress (March 31, 1849). He returns with his family to Springfield. Lincoln withdrew from politics and concentrated on the practice of law. The Lincoln's returned to the family home in Springfield. It was here that Eddy became sick (December 1849) Doctors at the time diagnosed it as diphtheria. Modern historians believe that it was probably pulmonary tuberculosis. Both parents hovered over him and cared for him tenderly. Mary followed doctor's orders and used balsam on his chest. The medical treatments at the time, however, were unable to adequately treat the disease. Eddy finally died after 52 days (February 1, 1850). Mary collapsed and could not be stopping from weeping. Lincoln nursed his wife having to force her to even eat. [Turner and Turner, p. 40.] Reverend James Smith of the First Presbyterian Church conducted the services for Eddy. It is at this time that Lincoln for the first time began attending church for the first time, presumably to help in wife's recovery. He was also impressed with Reverend Smith. Of course it was not only Mary that grieved, but Lincoln himself was affected. His response was to bury himself in his work. [Turner and Turner, p. 40.] Eddy was buried in Springfield near the Lincoln home. After the President's assassination (1865), Eddy's remains were relocated to the Lincoln Tomb in Springfield where he and Willie now lie next to their father.

Little Eddy

This heart-felt poem appeared Little Eddy appeared in the the Illinois State Journal The author is unknown. Presumably it was written by Mary, perhaps with her husband's help.

Those midnight stars are sadly dimmed,
That late so brilliantly shone,
And the crimson tinge from cheek and lip,
With the heart's warm life has flown -
The angel of Death was hovering nigh,
And the lovely boy was called to die.

The silken waves of his glossy hair
Lie still over his marble brow,
And the pallid lip and pearly cheek
The presence of Death avow.
Pure little bud in kindness given,
In mercy taken to bloom in heaven.

Happier far is the angel child With the harp and the crown of gold, Who warbles now at the Savior's feet The glories to us untold. Eddy, meet blossom of heavenly love, Dwells in the spirit-world above.
Angel Boy - fare thee well, farewell Sweet Eddy, We bid thee adieu!
Affection's wail cannot reach thee now Deep though it be, and true. Bright is the home to him now given For "of such is the Kingdom of Heaven."


Eddy was doted on by his parents who absolutely delighted un him. He was the kind of cheerful little boy with a loving disposition that all parents want. The loss of this beautiful little boy was a traumatic event that was with the Lincolns for the rest of their lives. Eddy's loss left permanent scars in the hearts of his loving parents. On the day that Lincoln said farewell to the people of Springfield as he left for the White House, he thought of Eddy. Summing up what Springfield had meant to him, he said: "To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything. Here I have lived a quarter of a century and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born and one is buried." One historian who has focussed in Eddy and his short life writes, "Eddy’s brief life, and untimely death, had a deep and long-lasting impact on both of his parents, who still felt the effects of the loss of the child during their White House years." [Emery] He believes that the loss of Eddy affected both Lincoln's religious outlook and Mary's fragile emotional condition. Lincoln was notable for not disciplining the two young boys (Tad and Willie) that he brought to Washington in 1861. Surely the loss of Eddy was a factor here. Mary Todd Lincoln is probably the most criticized of all American First Ladies. There was certainly much to criticized. It is also undeniable that Mary Todd Lincoln suffered many tragedies in her life. The first was the death of Eddy. She was also to lose Willie while in the White House. Mary in the White House after Willie's death, hired spiritualists. She claimed that Willie often visited here and Eddy sometimes was with him. [Turner and Turner, pp. 123-124.] Losing two sons of course was not Mary's only sorrow. She would lose both her husband a youngest son Tad as well.

Mary Tood Lincoln

Eddy's mother. Mary Todd Lincoln, is among the most criticized of all first ladies, if not the most criticized. Actually she played an important part in her husband's political career. It is unlikely that Lincoln would have gotten to the point he did before his presidential nomination without his wife. Realizing the emotionally renching experience of losing a child, some of the First Lady's bizarre behavior can perhaps be excused. And of course the Lincoln's lost a second son, Willie, while in the White House. As a result a little compasion for a grieving mother is in order when assessing the First Lady's role in history and the President's extrene compasion on her dealings with her..


Baker, Jean H. Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography (Norton, New York, 1987), 429p.

Emery, Tom. Eddy: Lincoln’s Forgotten Son (2002).

Justin. Executive Assistant to Mr. Keya Morgan. E-mail messages, October 1-5, 2014.

Morgan, Keya. E-mail message, October 23, 2004. Keya Morgan not only has the largest Lincoln collection, but he specializes in the four boys and is crazy about them. He just finished the Encyclopedia of every known photograph of Abraham, Mary, Robert, Eddy, Tad and Willie.

Norton, Roger. Eddy Lincoln.

Ostendorf, Lloyd. Lincoln's Photographs A Complete Album.

Randall, Ruth Painter. Lincoln's Sons.

Sandburg, Carl. Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years Vol. I (Charles Scribner's Sons: New York, 1940), 480p.

Sandburg, Carl. Mary Lincoln: Wife and Widow (Harcourt, Brace, World: New York, 1960), 357p.

Turner, Justin G. and Linda Levitt Turner. Mary Todd Lincoln: Her Life and Letters (Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 1972), 744p.

The Lincoln Herald, Spring, 1999, p. 8. Source of the "Little Eddy" poem.


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Created: June 25, 1999
Spell checked: 6:32 PM 4/25/2005
Last changed: 9:29 AM 10/5/2014