Robert Todd Lincoln Witnessed Three Presidential Assassinations

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Robert Todd Lincoln Witnessed Three Presidential Assassinations

I’m not sure if this is just plain bad luck or pure coincidence. Robert Todd Lincoln was an American lawyer and Secretary of War, and also the eldest son of former President Abraham Lincoln. Being the child of a President would often be enough for one persons claim to fame, but for Robert Lincoln however,  he managed to become a self made man, rising to many political posts on his own merit. Being the son of a former President and a self made politician is not his only claim to fame. It would appear as tragedy followed him throughout his life. The reason we say this is because Robert Todd Lincoln was present, or nearby when three Presidents were assassinated.


Although he was not present during his fathers assassination, he was nearby and attended the theater soon after President Lincoln was shot. He also attended his fathers deathbed.

The second assassination that Robert Lincoln attended was that of James Garfield. At the time Robert Lincoln was serving as Secretary of War in Garfield’s cabinet.  President Garfield invited Lincoln to the Sixth Street Train Station in Washington DC where he was shot. Lincoln was a witness to the shooting.

The third assassination of a President that Robert Todd Lincoln witnessed was President William McKinley. Lincoln was attending the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York when the serving President, McKinley was shot. Although Lincoln was in the vicinity of the assassination he did not witness the event.

For one person to be so close to three national tragedies is amazing. It would be easy to assume that the person was quite simply bad luck. It appears as though Lincoln thought this himself. Robert Todd Lincoln, on the thought of being invited to a presidential function was quoted as saying this in regards to his uncanny knack of being witness to presidential assassinations. “No, I’m not going, and they’d better not ask me, because there is a certain fatality about presidential functions when I am present.”



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