WILLIE LINCOLN DEAD OF TYPHOID FEVER AT AGE 11
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) One hundred fifty-five years ago today, February 20, 1862, the third son of President Abraham Lincoln, Willie Lincoln*, died as a result of contracting typhoid fever** two weeks earlier.
A typhoid epidemic had existed in the Nation's Capital for some time. Willie was pronounced dead at 5 in the afternoon and the body was placed in the Green Room.
The President sadly commented...
"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 we loved him so much. It is hard to have him die."
Willie's younger brother Tad also contracted the disease, but recovered.
The President did not return to work for three weeks and Mrs. Lincoln remained inconsolable. A friend of the family said Willie was "the most lovable boy I ever knew." Willie's death, writes Brady Dennis of The Washington Post, "cast a pall over the White House that would linger throughout the war."
*William Wallace Lincoln (1850-1862) was born in Springfield, Illinois. He & his brother Tad had the run of Lincoln's law office without restriction from their father. The two brothers were very close & Willie was Mary Todd's favorite child.
WWL was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown but three years later the body was exhumed & put on the train with his father's to be buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield.
**Typhoid Fever spreads through contaminated food and water or through contact with an infected person. It is believed Willie and Tad contracted TF from the water supply to the White House from the Potomac River. The disease is marked by high fever, headache, abdominal pain & either constipation or diarrhea.
"Typhoid Fever," The Mayo Clinic, www.mayoclinic.org/
"Willie Lincoln's death: A private agony for a president facing a nation of pain," by Brady Dennis, October 7, 2011, The Washington Post, www.washingtonpost.com/