After Robert had his widowed mother committed to an upscale insane asylum in 1875 and a Chicago newspaper’s editorials led to her release, Mary Lincoln claimed it was her eldest son who made her dark hair turn white. She wrote the ultimate slam to her friend Myra Blackwell, “This one, as my beloved husband always said, was so different than the rest of us.”
President Lincoln formed a warm bond with his younger sons Tad and Willie, but his relationship with his eldest son Robert was much more formal.
Young Robert Todd Lincoln
Mr. Lincoln was often away from home riding the court circuit or politicking when Robert was growing up. By the time Robert was 16, his father was home more, but Robert was away at prep school and Harvard.
Robert complained to friends that he scarcely even had 10 minutes alone with his father during the presidential years because his father was always tending to war business.
Source: Mary Lincoln letter to Myra Blackwell, June 18, 1876, Papers of Robert Todd Lincoln and Family, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress