21142 he was an affectionate though often absent

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[21]:142 He was an affectionate, though often absent, husband and father of four children. Robert Todd Lincoln was born in 1843 and Edward Baker Lincoln (Eddie) in 1846. Edward died on February 1, 1850, in Springfield, probably of tuberculosis. "Willie" Lincoln was born on December 21, 1850, and died of a fever on February 20, 1862. The Lincolns' fourth son, Thomas "Tad" Lincoln, was born on April 4, 1853, and died of heart failure at the age of 18 on July 16, 1871. [12]:179–181, 476 Robert reached adulthood and produced children. The Lincolns' last descendant, great-grandson Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith, died in 1985. [22] Lincoln "was remarkably fond of children", [12]:126 and the Lincolns were not considered to be strict with their own. [21]:120 In fact, Lincoln's law partner William H. Herndon would grow irritated when Lincoln would bring his children to the law office. Their father, it seemed, was often too absorbed in his own work to notice his children's behaviour. Herndon recounted, "I have felt many and many a time that I wanted to wring their little necks, and yet out of respect for Lincoln I kept my mouth shut. Lincoln did not note what his children were doing or had done." [23] The deaths of their sons had profound effects on both parents. Abraham suffered from " melancholy", a condition later referred to as clinical depression. [24] Later in life, Mary struggled with the stresses of losing her husband and sons, and Robert committed her temporarily to a mental health asylum in 1875. [25]:341 Lincoln's father-in-law and others of the Todd family were either slave owners or slave traders. Lincoln was close to the Todds, and he and his family occasionally visited them. [26]:440–447 Mary cooked for Lincoln often during his presidency. Raised by a wealthy family, her cooking was simple, but satisfied Lincoln's tastes, which included imported oysters. [27] In 1832 Lincoln and partner Denton Offutt bought a general store on credit in New Salem, Illinois. [28] Although the economy was booming, the business struggled and Lincoln eventually sold his share. That March he entered politics, running for the Illinois General Assembly, advocating navigational improvements on the Sangamon River. He could draw crowds as a raconteur, but he lacked an education, powerful friends, and money and lost the election. [7]:41[29] Lincoln interrupted his campaign to briefly serve as a captain in the Illinois Militia (during the Black Hawk War). [30]:86–95 He then returned to his campaign. At his first speech, he observed a supporter in the crowd under attack, grabbed the assailant by his "neck and the seat of his trousers" and tossed him. [7]:46 Lincoln finished eighth out of 13 candidates (the top four were elected), though he received 277 of the 300 votes cast in the New Salem precinct. [30]:114–116 1864 photo of President Lincoln with youngest son, Tad Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of Abraham Lincoln, age 28 Early career and militia service
Lincoln served as New Salem's postmaster and later as county surveyor, all the while reading voraciously. He decided to become a lawyer and began teaching himself law by reading Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England and other law books. Of his learning method, Lincoln stated: "I studied with nobody".

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