Before the series of coincidences that led Robert Todd Lincoln (and others) to believe that his presence was detrimental to the health of American presidents, he was involved in a bizarre incident that is a prime example of the bittersweet mix of good luck and tragic coincidence. which tormented Robert throughout his life. As HistoryNet reports, Robert was traveling by train from New York to Washington, D.C., during a break from his studies at Harvard sometime during the Civil War – likely 1863 or 1864. Changing trains in Jersey City, New Jersey, Robert s was found on a crowded train platform, piled back so his body was pushed against the stationary train. Suddenly, however, the train began to move, which knocked Robert over and knocked him into the gap between the platform and the train.
Before the President’s son could be crushed by the wheels of the train, wiping out the dead Lincoln boys, Robert found himself grabbed by the collar and hoisted to safety. When he looked up to see who had saved his life, he instantly recognized him. And why wouldn’t he? It was just America’s most famous Shakespearean actor, Edwin Booth (above). If the surname sounds familiar, it’s because Edwin was the brother of John Wilkes Booth, the less successful actor who would go on to assassinate Robert’s father, Abraham Lincoln, at Ford’s Theater in 1865. (It may (Be of note that Edwin was estranged from his brother precisely because Edwin was pro-Lincoln, but he didn’t know until years later that he had saved the president’s son.)