Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

Tyrant Tad: The Boy In The White House
by [?]

At the time when the Civil War was at its height, and Abraham Lincoln, who was then President of the United States, was staggering under an almost crushing load of responsibility, because of his great anxiety for the future of his beloved country, there were many of his enemies, who were bitterly opposed to the continuance of the struggle between the North and the South for the freeing of the slaves, who used to call the good and great president “tyrant” a most unjust word to use in reference to the big-souled, tender-hearted Lincoln.

One day an eminent politician who was leaving the White House, met an acquaintance and in passing him said with a quizzical smile: “I have just had an interview with the tyrant of the White House.”

Then noticing his companion’s surprise at his making such a speech, he added: ” Tad! ” and passed on, chuckling over his little joke.

And to Tad the title really belonged–to President Lincoln’s youngest son–who was a small whirlwind of impetuous despotism; and woe to the man, woman or child who resisted his tempestuous tyranny.

Few did, and the most willing of all his subjects was the great President, whom tyrant Tad ruled despotically.

Before President Lincoln’s day there had been a succession of administrations when no children’s voices rang through the stately rooms and corridors of the White House, so it was indeed a change when the three Lincoln boys arrived, in March of 1861, bringing with them all the clatter and chatter which belongs to normal healthy boyhood. Robert, who was then eighteen years old only stayed in the White House for his father’s inauguration, then went back to Harvard to finish his education, and Willie, and Theodore or “Tad” as he was always called, from his own pronunciation of his name, (the little fellow had a serious defect in his speech which made it hard for him to pronounce words clearly) were left to make the dignified White House echo with their merry laughter and conversations, as they romped through its long passages, careless of the fact that they were on historic ground, as they scattered their balls, bats, kites and other treasures wherever they chose.

They had few playmates, with whom they were allowed to play frequently, except two boys, the sons of a government official, and the four boys’ fertile brains were keen to think out all sorts of exciting and mischievous plans which kept their families on the alert to restrain their actions within the bounds of safety and propriety. The boys who were playmates of Tad and Willie were Budd and Hally Taft, and although they were older than the Lincoln boys, they were much like them in temperament and in looks, Budd was fair like Willie Lincoln, and Hally dark, and more like Tad, whose eyes were bright and brown, in keeping with his quick imperious disposition.

One evening in the spring, the four boys were taken to see a minstrel show in the city. They were thrilled by what they heard and saw, and decided on the spot that they would give a show themselves, and began between the numbers to plan when and where to give it. But, on the following day, when they discussed it again there seemed to be no room suited to their plans either in the White House or at the Taft’s, but finally they decided that by having some partitions in the Taft attic, which was roughly divided into small bedrooms, taken down, they could be accommodated. However, fortune favoured the preservation of the Taft home by a sudden shifting of the boys’ interest in the direction of the White House. Mrs. Lincoln was called to New York for a week; Willie and Tad had such severe colds and the weather was so rainy, that she wished them to be amused in the house during her absence, and that could only be done by giving them the society of their playmates. Accordingly one day Hally and Budd were thrown into a state of feverish excitement by the arrival of a messenger with Mrs. Lincoln’s invitation for them to spend a whole week at the White House.