William Wallace "Willie" Lincoln (December 21, 1850 – February 20, 1862) was the third son of President Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln. He was named after Mary's brother-in-law Dr. William Wallace.

Illness and death[edit | edit source]

Willie and Tad became ill in early 1862. While Tad was not as badly affected, Willie's condition fluctuated from day to day. The most likely cause of the illness was typhoid fever, which was usually contracted by consumption of contaminated food/water. The White House drew its water from the Potomac River, along which thousands of soldiers and horses were camped. Gradually Willie weakened, and his parents spent much time at his bedside. Finally, on Thursday, February 20, 1862, at 5:00 p.m., Willie died. Abraham said, "My poor boy. He was too good for this earth. God has called him home. I know that he is much better off in heaven, but then we loved him so much. It is hard, hard to have him die!"[4]

Both parents were deeply affected. Long after the burial, the President repeatedly shut himself in a room so that he could weep alone.[5] He cared for Willie's younger brother, Tad, who was still very ill and was heartbroken over the loss of his brother.[6] Mary Lincoln's grief over Willie's death was even more devastating than her husband's. She took to her bed for three weeks, so desolated that she could not attend the funeral or look after Tad.[7] Mary was so distraught for many months that Lincoln had to employ a nurse to look after her.[8]

Willie was interred at Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown. After his father's assassination in 1865, Willie's casket was moved from the Carroll Mausoleum. He was re-interred at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois, first in a temporary tomb and on September 19, 1871, a state tomb alongside the remains of his father and his brother Eddie. Tad and Mary Todd Lincolnwere also later placed in the crypt of the Lincoln Tomb.

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