Last Formal Photograph of Lincoln, with Son “Tad”
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In this albumen print, Lincoln’s youngest son Thomas is erroneously called “Thaddeus,” because of nickname “Tad.” An unfinished Washington Monument rises in the background, perhaps referencing the funerary monument motif of a broken column as symbolic of a life cut short. ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
Albumen Photograph by Bouve, Boston, Mass., February 5, 1865, image 6 ¼ x 8 ½ in., mounted on original board, 8 x 10 in.
Thomas “Tad” Lincoln (1853-1871) was the fourth son of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. At the time of his birth, the Lincolns had already lost their second-born son, Edward, in 1850. The family mourned third-born Willie in 1862. “Tad,” nicknamed by his father because he had a large head on a small body and wriggled like a tadpole, largely had free reign of the White House. He did not attend school and was the bane of many tutors. After Lincoln’s assassination, he, eldest son Robert (1843-1926), and Mary Todd (1818-1882) lived in Chicago, where Tad was devoted to his mother. Tad died of heart failure in 1871. This image shows father and son posing for what would be Lincoln’s last sitting. Construction of the Washington Monument began in 1848, but was not completed until 1884.
Charles Hamilton and Lloyd Ostendorf, Lincoln in Photographs: An Album of Every Known Pose (Dayton, Ohio: Morningside House, 1985) 220.