Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Assassination of Abe Lincoln's Dog, Fido.

Fido was a mixed breed dog with floppy ears and a yellowish coat. When fireworks and cannons announced Abraham Lincoln’s victory in the Presidential election of 1860, poor Fido was terrified. The Lincolns were worried that the long train trip to Washington, D.C., in 1861, combined with loud noises, would terrify Fido. 
In 1893 John Eddy Roll copyrighted this picture and turned it into a Carte de Visite (Cabinet Card) that was sold at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago.
A Cabinet Card that was sold at the 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition.
John and Frank Roll, two neighborhood boys, promised to take good care of Fido. Mr. Lincoln made them promise to let Fido inside the house whenever he scratched at the front door, never scold Fido for entering the house with muddy paws, and feed him if he came to the dinner table. The Lincolns gave the boys the roll pillows from their sofa so Fido would feel at home! Did you know the name “Fido” is Latin? Fido is from “Fidelitas,” which translates as “Faithful.”
A cropped picture of Fido from a Cabinet Card.
Fido outlived President Lincoln but came to a similarly tragic end in 1866. Fido was exceedingly friendly and had a habit of showing his congeniality by depositing his muddy forepaws plump on the breast of anyone who addressed him familiarly. His excessive friendliness eventually caused his death in a very unique way, in that Fido suffered the fate of his master—assassination. 

So there was Charlie Planck, one day in 1866 heavily intoxicated, sitting on a curb, head hanging down. Some accounts say he was whittling a stick. In any event, he was holding a "sharp, long-bladed knife." A friendly yellow dog came up to him, the way it often approached strangers. And it put its muddy forepaws on Charlie Planck. In a blind, drunken rage, Planck drew the knife and plunged it into Fido's chest.

Wounded and whimpering, the most famous dog in Springfield—an in all of America, for that matter—struggled to make his way back home, back to the Roll house, hobbling, hobbling, while blood poured from his chest. But it was too far. He would make it only as far as the Universalist Church on the corner of Fifth and Cook, just three blocks from the Roll mansion.

Fido, mortally wounded, his yellow coat matted with blood, labored to the backside of the church. He curled up tight against the chimney as if to keep warm. And there he died.

Poor old Fido was buried by loving hands in a spot that is kept sacred to this day.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.


  1. How cruel. Wonder if the man was prosecuted

  2. I feel so sorry for this dog, but I also found my future dogs name, fido. love it.


The Digital Research Library of Illinois History Journal™ is RATED PG-13. Please comment accordingly. Advertisements, spammers and scammers will be removed.