Friday, March 13, 2009

Tadpole - Lincoln's Youngest

I have recently been reading some books on Abraham Lincoln's family, most notably The Lincolns, A Portrait of a Marriage by Daniel Epstein, and The last Lincolns by Charles Lachman. I have become fascinated by their time in the White House.

Thomas Lincoln was born in 1853, and Abe described his extremely large head as resembling a tadpole, and the name stuck. During the time his father lived Tad was impulsive, unrestrained, and did not attend school. Growing up, Tad had an appealing boyish face with dark hair like his dad's. His eyes were dark. Tad was quick in his movements and talked rapidly. He was imaginative, sensitive, exasperating, loving, and highly emotional. Tad's behavior and manners were often unpredictable and sometimes difficult to deal with.

In the White House, Tad sprayed dignitaries with the fire hose, broke mirrors, locked doors, interrupted Cabinet meetings, constructed wagons and sleds out of chairs, set up a food shop in the lobby, rang the call bells, and drilled the servants (as if they were soldiers). Abraham generally laughed at his sons' tricks, and any kind of discipline was generally lacking.

After his father's assassination Tad spent his teenage years traveling in Europe with his mother. During their voyage home in 1871 Tad became ill and passed away at age 18. The cause of death is generally attributed to pleurisy caused by tuberculosis.

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