The Last Lincolns

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The Last Lincolns: The Rise & Fall of a Great American Family

About the book:

The forgotten tale of acrimony and disgrace

Nearly 15,0000 books have been written about Abraham Lincoln, but not one covers the entire tragic saga of the Lincoln family from the 16th president's murder through his last descendant.

We know, of course, that John Wilkes Booth assassinated Lincoln, but that terrible crime was only the beginning of the calamities and woe that plagued the Lincolns following the president's murder.

In The Last Lincolns: The Rise and Fall of a Great American Family (Union Square Press, $24.95 hardcover), author Charles Lachman, Executive Producer of Inside Edition, traces the family's trail of tears across three generations, revealing innumerable discoveries, including the fact that the lineage ended in scandal with the Lincoln's great grandchildren in the 1970s.

Published in advance of the Bicentennial of Lincoln's birth in February 2009, this absorbing American tragedy chronicles the forgotten tale of acrimony and disgrace that consumed the Lincolns in the months, years and decades that followed the president's murder. Instead of coming together in mourning and mutual sadness, they fell out over the anguished mental condition of the widowed Mary Todd Lincoln, and rarely aspired to the uplifting example of their patriarch.

Aspects of overlooked history revealed in The Last Lincolns:

There are no direct descendants of Abraham Lincoln alive today. The last Lincoln died Christmas Eve, 1985. At the time of his death, the value of the Lincoln estate was estimated at $6 million.

President Lincoln's widow, Mary Todd Lincoln, moved to Chicago following the assassination. She also lived in exile in two foreign cities: Frankfurt, Germany and Pau, France.

Eldest son Robert Todd Lincoln engineered the arrest and forcible commitment of his mother, Mary Todd Lincoln, to an insane asylum in 1875. She served less than four months before she was released.

President Lincoln's youngest son, Tad, was 12 years old before he learned how to dress himself. He could barely read or write until his early teens. Robert Lincoln held two important U.S. government posts: Secretary of War and Minister to Great Britain. He was also considered a potential Republican presidential nominee, but chose not to run.

Robert was present at three presidential assassinations - those of Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley. Thinking he was cursed, following McKinley's murder Robert refused to go to the White House or attend any event where a president was present.

In each succeeding generation, the Lincolns' misfortunes multiplied, as a litany of alcohol abuse, squandered fortunes, burned family papers and outright dissipation led to the downfall of this once great family.

There was an Abraham Lincoln II. He was President Lincoln's grandson, who died in 1890 of blood poisoning in London, at age sixteen.

The Great Emancipator's great-granddaughter, Mary Lincoln Beckwith, expressed opposition to the civil rights movement in the 1960s, saying, "The aggression of the federal government in forcing integration concerns me." She was an eccentric who became so overweight she once found herself trapped in an airline seat.

Mary Todd Lincoln Beckwith, lived a Gothic and bizarre life at Hildene, the family estate in Manchester, Vermont, which fell into a state of ruin rivaling that of Grey Gardens, with raccoons, rabbits and other animals living in the mansion.

The last male heir, Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith, led a squandered life that ended in scandal and humiliation. His family farm in Virginia was the scene of swinging parties and debauchery.

The author makes a compelling case that Lincoln's great grandson's chauffeur was the infamous D. B. Cooper, the only person to hijack a US airliner without being captured. The D. B. Cooper case, Lachman writes, was connected to a failed effort to obtain possession of the vast Lincoln fortune. Lachman's research is thorough and convincing, and he integrates it in prose that creates a page-turning narrative, keeping the reader engaged to the last page. The book is richly illustrated with 37 family and public photographs.

About the Author:
Charles Lachman is Executive Producer of Inside Edition. Prior to that, he was Co-Executive Producer of American Journal, Managing Editor of the nightly news broadcasts at WNYW-TV (Fox) in New York, and a reporter for the New York Post. He is the author of a novel about the criminal justice system, In the Name of the Law, (St. Martin's, 1989), which PW called "scorching and truly gripping."

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