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Favorable or Unfavorable #536: Robert Todd Lincoln


Favorable or Unfavorable #536: Robert Todd Lincoln  

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  1. 1. Did you read my first comment?

  2. 2. Favorable or Unfavorable #536: Robert Todd Lincoln

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RT Lincoln is best known as the son of Abraham Lincoln. As such, he was occasionally put up as a presidential candidate. To his credit, he had served as both Sec of War and Amb to UK, although he likely got these spots because of who his father was.

Lincoln's greatest struggle was living in the shadow of his father. He lacked most of his father's traits. His father got him into Harvard despite RT failing all but one of the entrance requirements at the time. JFK got into Harvard in a somewhat similar situation. While Lincoln was considered an entertaining speaker and imaginative thinker, RT was described by his peers as dull and unimaginative. I'm curious if he had any effectiveness in his government offices. Nevertheless, unlike many Gilded Age politicians it seems RT avoided scandals (aside from rising b/c of nepotism). In 1922, he came out of retirement to dedicate the Lincoln Memorial. 

RT Lincoln thought he was so cursed -- having been around for 3 presidential assassinations, including his father's -- that after McKinley was shot, he retired from politics so as to not "cause another assassination". 

His actions:

Lincoln, Robert Todd 1881 Confirmed Sec of War for Garfield; kept on by Arthur
Lincoln, Robert Todd 1881 With Pres Garfield when the pres was shot
Lincoln, Robert Todd 1884 Put up as a pres cand but personally declined to compete
Lincoln, Robert Todd 1888 Pres cand but puts no energy into it
Lincoln, Robert Todd 1889 Appt Amb to UK by Harrison
Lincoln, Robert Todd 1892 Gets 1 delegate for pres at GOP Conv
Lincoln, Robert Todd 1901 At the Pan-American Exposition with McKinley when the pres was shot
Lincoln, Robert Todd 1922 Takes part in the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial
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It's really 50/50. He passes because he appears to have done no damage in the offices he was appointed to. I think he should have been in those offices by merit, but it doesn't appear like he angled himself to get jobs he might not have deserved. 

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It's been a few years now, but I did see a mini documentary on him.  He was also quite involved in business, and IIRC it said while he was basically indeed very boring and nothing to get excited about, he was a competent administrator at least.  He knew how to manage money, and I assume, he knew how to run a bureaucracy.  I think it was stated that some of his business peers were surprised to the degree he could turn around a business when they thought they were bringing him on board just for the name value.

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