continued He has learned that Robert was the keeper of his father’s legacy. His major discovery was the true relationship Robert had with his father. “He was his father’s confidant during the Civil War,” Emerson said. “He never wrote a book about his father which he regretted. The greatest thing I found at the Library of Congress was a 16-page letter from Robert Lincoln detailing minute by minute, day by day, President Garfield’s assassination as he stood by as Secretary of War.”
Emerson told of the book by Jean Baker featuring Mary Todd Lincoln that destroyed Robert Lincoln’s reputation. “My goal was not to vindicate Robert, to improve his reputation, but to inform people of his legacy. He was a graduate of Exeter and Harvard, a Republican and president of the Pullman Company. He was conservative from the 19th century viewpoint. He did not agree with Theodore Roosevelt but admired him. Robert was not a progressive, he never came out on social issues.”
Robert was frequently urged to run for vice president which he refused to do. According to Emerson, he was a good storyteller like his father. As for the myths, Robert was not at Ford’s Theatre when his father was shot, rather he went immediately to William Petersen’s nearby boarding house where the president was taken for treatment and he was not in Buffalo when President McKinley was shot.
Terence J. Masterson, Executive Director of Cayuga Economic Development Agency, was among those in the audience. An avowed Lincoln and Civil War history buff, he said, “I’ve always been aware of Robert Lincoln and have visited Hildene (Robert Lincoln’s home in Vermont that is a national historic site). He (Emerson) did a wonderful job, is an excellent speaker, very knowledgeable.”
For Karlene Miller, president of the Skaneateles Historical Society, the monthly talks have been well attended and have called attention to the newly expanded museum. “It is wonderful to have so many people here to learn about history,” she said.
You can learn more about Jason Emerson, the editor of the Skaneateles Press, through his website, jasonemerson.com.
Anne Roth is an Eagle Newspapers contributor. She can be reached through the editor at email@example.com.