Edward Baker Lincoln

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Edward Baker Lincoln
Eddie Lincoln, age 3
Born(1846-03-10)March 10, 1846
DiedFebruary 1, 1850(1850-02-01) (aged 3)
Springfield, Illinois, U.S.
Resting placeHutchinson's Cemetery, Springfield, Illinois (originally)
Lincoln Tomb, Oak Ridge Cemetery
Other namesEddie
Parent(s)Abraham Lincoln
Mary Todd
RelativesSee Lincoln family tree, Robert Todd Lincoln (brother)

Edward Baker Lincoln (March 10, 1846 – February 1, 1850) was the second son of Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln. He was named after Lincoln's close friend, Edward Dickinson Baker. Both Abraham and Mary spelled his name "Eddy";[1] however, the National Park Service uses "Eddie" as a nickname[2] and the nickname also appears spelled this way on his crypt at the Lincoln tomb.

Early life[edit]

Eddie Lincoln was born on March 10, 1846, at the Lincoln Home in Springfield, Illinois. Little is known about his life, but a surviving story says that one day during a visit to his grandfather Robert Todd's home in Lexington, Kentucky, Eddie's older brother, Robert found a kitten and brought it to the house.[3] Mary Lincoln wrote to her husband about the incident: "[As] soon as Eddy, spied [the kitten], 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."[1] Mary's stepmother, who did not like cats, ordered the cat thrown out, "Ed screaming & protesting loudly against the proceeding, she never appeared to mind his screams, which were long & loud, I assure you."[1]

Abraham Lincoln also referenced him in an 1848 letter to his wife, also during the aforementioned time period. He mimicks the way two-year-old Eddie would say his father had gone to the Capitol: "Dear Eddy thinks father is 'gone tapila.'" He also writes about searching for plaid stockings that would "fit Eddy's dear little feet," but says ultimately that he had been unsuccessful, and finally closes his letter with, "What did he and Eddy think of the little letters father sent them? Dont [sic] let the blessed fellows forget father...."[4]


Eddie died aged 3 years 11 months. Census records list "chronic consumption" (tuberculosis) as the cause. An alternate theory is that he died of medullary thyroid cancer[5] given that: (a) "consumption" was a term then applied to many wasting diseases, (b) cancer is a progressing disease, (c) Abraham and two of Eddie's brothers had several features compatible with the genetic cancer syndrome multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2b (MEN2B), and (d) his thick, asymmetric lower lip is a sign of MEN2B. The familial MEN2B theory regarding the Lincolns, however, is principally challenged by the fact that Abraham Lincoln was 56 at the time of his assassination, the untreated disease usually resulting in death sometime in the victim's thirties; most researchers subscribe to the idea that Eddie's death was caused by tuberculosis.[6]

Abraham Lincoln referenced Eddie's death in a letter to his stepbrother John D. Johnston, noting that Eddie was "sick fifty-two days," and "We miss him very much."[7]

Eddie's funeral was held at the Lincoln home by the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church,[8] and his body was buried at the nearby Hutchinson Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois.[9] Both parents were devastated. A week after his death, an unsigned poem entitled "Little Eddie" was printed in the Illinois Daily Journal.[8]

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 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 Saviour's feet
  The glories to us untold.
    Eddie, meet blossom of heavenly love,
    Dwells in the spirit-world above.

Angel boy—fare thee well, farewell
  Sweet Eddie, 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."

Authorship of the poem was long a mystery with some supposing that Abraham and Mary wrote it. In 2012, the Abraham Lincoln Association published an article in their journal that concludes neither of them did so, and that it was instead an early draft by a young poet from St. Louis.[8] The final line is on Eddie's original gravestone, which now resides in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield.[8]

Abraham and Mary's next child, Willie Lincoln, was born ten months after Eddie's death. After Abraham's assassination, Eddie's remains were transferred to the Lincoln Tomb at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Papers Of Abraham Lincoln". papersofabrahamlincoln.org. Retrieved 2022-10-19.
  2. ^ "Edward Baker "Eddie" Lincoln". National Park Service. Retrieved February 19, 2014.
  3. ^ Burlingame, Michael (2008). Abraham Lincoln: A Life. Vol. 1. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 239. ISBN 978-0-8018-8993-6.
  4. ^ Lincoln, Abraham (2001) [First published 1953]. "Letter to Mary Todd Lincoln, April 16, 1848". Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 2. University of Michigan Digital Library Production Services. Retrieved January 12, 2024.
  5. ^ Sotos 2008.
  6. ^ Dirck, Brian R. (2019). The Black Heavens: Abraham Lincoln and Death. Southern Illinois University Press. p. 183. ISBN 9780809337033. Retrieved October 20, 2022.
  7. ^ Lincoln, Abraham (2001) [First published 1953]. "Letter to John D. Johnston, Feb. 23 1850". Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 2. University of Michigan Digital Library Production Services. Retrieved January 12, 2024.
  8. ^ a b c d Wheeler, Samuel P. (Summer 2012). "Solving a Lincoln Literary Mystery: 'Little Eddie'". Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association. 33 (2). Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press: 34–46. hdl:2027/spo.2629860.0033.205.
  9. ^ "Edward Baker 'Eddie' Lincoln". Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  10. ^ Hill, Nancy (Winter 2006). "The Transformation of the Lincoln Tomb". Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association. 27 (1). Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press: 39–56. hdl:2027/spo.2629860.0027.105.


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