Thursday, June 16, 2011

Robert Todd Lincoln's Georgetown Home

Robert Todd Lincoln, the Great Emancipator's eldest son and only child to survive to adulthood,  owned the stately residence at 3014 N Street NW from 1912 until his death in 1926.  Robert Lincoln was born in Springfield, Illinois in 1843.  Ensuring that his son received the proper education that he did not, Abraham Lincoln sent Robert to Phillips Exeter and then Harvard, where he graduated in 1864.  Despite his mother's objections, Robert served on General Grant's staff briefly at the end of the war and was present for Lee's surrender.

The Laird-Dunlop House, a private residence at 3014 Street, dates back to the 1790s.  At the start of the Civil War, it was the home of Judge James Dunlop, the Chief Justice of the Circuit Court of the District of Columbia, who President Lincoln removed from the federal bench  because of his Southern sympathies.    Robert Todd Lincoln purchased the home as his Washington residence after retiring as President of the Pullman Company in Chicago.  He split time between it and his Vermont estate, always taking his father's papers with him, until his death in 1926.  His widow, Mary Harlan Lincoln, lived in the home until she passed away in 1937. (Photo by author)
 Robert Lincoln, a leading Republican in his own right, could easily have secured the Republican presidential nomination in the late nineteenth century if he had sought it.  In the "Guilded Age" years, he amassed a fortune as a successful corporate attorney and business executive.  He also served as Secretary of War under Presidents Garfield and Arthur and as U.S. Minister to the Court of St. James during Benjamin Harrison's Administration.  In addition to the trauma of his father's own assassination, Robert Lincoln also witnessed the shooting of President Garfield in Washington in 1881 and was in Buffalo when President McKinley was shot in 1901.  He is reported to have later refused an invitation to an event from President Theodore Roosevelt as a result of these experiences.

At his Georgetown residence, Robert Lincoln zealously guarded his father's papers, going as far as taking them with him each summer when he retreated to his "Hildene" estate in Vermont, to ensure that no one accessed them.  After even musing about burning all of the papers to protect the family's privacy,  Robert finally deeded them  to the Library of Congress in 1919 with the stipulation that they remain sealed until 21 years after his death.  Amongst the thousands of documents in the now digitalized collection is President Lincoln's January 19, 1865 request to Ulysses S. Grant that the general  find a position on his staff for Robert  who wished "to see something of the war before it is over."

Robert Lincoln (right-hand side) with President Warren Harding (center) and Former President/Chief Justice William Taft (left) at the 1922 dedication of the Lincoln Memorial.  Although quite accomplished in his own right, it could not have been easy having the weight of Abraham Lincoln's legacy upon him. (Courtesy Library of Congress)
 
Robert Lincoln died July 26, 1926, just short of his 83rd birthday.  Ironically, his widow, who wanted to ensure that she would not be buried beside her late mother-in-law in the Springfield Lincoln crypt, arranged for him to be interred at Arlington National Cemetery,  the former estate of Robert E. Lee.  Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwirth, Robert's grandson and the last direct living descendant of Abraham Lincoln, lived in Washington, D.C. and died in 1985.

3 comments:

  1. It was Ben Bradley's home too, the editor of the Washington Post, who was editor who helped get the only Republican President to resign due to some subordinates mischief in the "Watergate" affair. A very minor act that grew to become a scandal that would not go away. President Nixon resigned instead of facing impeachment by a Democratic Congress. Ironic, since Todd Lincoln's father was the first Republican President of the new party of the "Rebel Abolitionists". Lincoln only got 40% in 1860. Nixon won by a landslide, but was paranoid, and sanctioned the breaking in of the Watergate Hotel where the Democrats (who supported the South in 1860) had their headquarters. Nixon should have admitted that his subordinates had made a mistake but covered it up supposedly. The Washington Post hated him, especially the editor Bradlee. A socialite and friend of the owner who is buried not far up in a famous Georgetown cemetery next to her husband who committed suicide much earlier in their lives. Catherine Graham, she also owned a mansion in Georgetown. Lincoln was nothing like his father - not as Holy looking, much more like his mother - too bad for Todd.

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  2. I have a 1923 letter written and signed by R T Lincoln, which at the top has the address "3014 N. Street, Washington, DC" Could be for sale soon. contact lancejjc@aol.com in interested

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  3. James Harlan knew Abe faults but were just friend.
    James Harlan most critical of presidents agenda.
    Harlan advice abe to appoint chase,Cameron ,etc offices.
    Secr of Interior ajoin to Secretary of war Edwin Stanton.
    Senator Clingman spoke against recession of states .
    Secretary of Interior -Senator of Iowa James Harlan.
    His wife :Ann Eliza Peck parents Silas/Mary Harlan.
    James Harlan sisters : Lydia Harlan/Jane Harlan.
    Harlan's brother in law - George C Snow.
    Robert Todd Lincoln & Mary Eunice Harlan wed
    September 24,1868 at Harlan's residence :
    304 H Street Washington D.C.
    Mary Surratt Boarding House, 604 H Street Washington.
    Secretary of Interior -James Harlan in andrew Johnson
    cabinet -april 15-1865 resigned July 27, 1866.
    Elizabeth Beckle Dressmaker invited steamer cityPoint.
    among passengers Secretary of Interior wife Mrs Ann
    Eliza Peck Harlan & James Harlan and their daughter.
    Senator Sumner and several other gentlemen.
    Elizabeth Beckley said arranged board River Queen,
    visit Richmond other points with the pres Lincoln,
    his wife Mary todd Lincoln.Which time General Ulysses
    Grant his wife on the steamer several times.
    Elizabeth Beckley said first time met Mrs Lincoln,
    when summonize to Willard Hotel to make dresses.
    Eliz Edwards 2 daughers and Todd's half sister.
    National Theatre -Grover Theatre near Williard Hotel .
    The Willard Hotel -corner 14th St / F Street washington.
    Williard Hotel - 1401 Pennsylvania Ave / 4th St washington.
    {Robert T Lincoln -wife Mary -1775 N Street washington.
    and Robt Lincoln -wife mary -3014 N Street Washington)
    Ford theatre -10th st /E St and Herndon House 9thst/F/g St.
    Peterson House across Ford theatre-Kirwood House 12st/D St.
    National Hotel - Pennsylvania avenue / 6th Street Washington.
    Footnote: The beautiful Lucy Lambert Hale from Dover, New Hampahire received an anonymous Valentine’s Day card in 1862 that sparked a notorious romance John Wilkes Booth.Lucy is second eldest daughter of U.S. Senator John Parker Hale and Lucy Hill Lambert,... were living at the National Hotel in Washington D.C.(where Booth stayed)National Hotel, formerly situated at 6th and Pennsylvania Ave in D.C. .Lucy's with suitors Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., John Hay, rumored Robert Todd Lincoln.(later married Mary Harlan) and. (William E. Chandler) Lucy picture among 5 other women pictures were in JWB wallet /Diary the allegedly missing pages (smokegun)of Booth’s diary..After John Wilkes Booth was shot at Garrett's farm on April 26, 1865, Colonel Everton Conger removed JWB items on him..Rumor 18 pages were missing from diary but others say diary also appeared to be missing 54 pages from the front of the book and an additional 32 pages from the back,was missing in Jwb diary.Booth's entries in the diary were probably written between April 17 and April 22, 1865. ... He took it to Washington and gave it to Lafayette C. Baker, chief of the War Department's National Detective Police. The little book was taken off Booth's body by Colonel Everton Conger. He took it to Washington and gave it to Lafayette C. Baker, chief of the War Department's National Detective Police. Baker in turn gave it to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.Indian Affairs :Edwin Stanton -Secretary of Interior -
    James Harlan.Gen Pope to Grant 6-14-1865.Pope To Stanton feb 1864.Pope to J Harlan 6-19-1865.Maj G.M.Dodge to J Harlan 6-22-1865.J Harlan to Gen.Pope 7-6-1865.Harlan to Commissoner D.V.Cooley -Edward Taylor-Henry Reed-Orin Guerney-Gen S.R.Curtis-Henry H.Sibley.!Sec of Interior James Harlan announced that in the future Indian Officials would accept the policy of the War Department Edwin Stanton.!

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