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Abraham Lincoln's Marfanoid Mother

This article was published in Clinical Dysmorphology, a medical journal for physicians who specialize in diagnosing persons based on their physical apperance.

The full reference is: Sotos JG. Abraham Lincoln's marfanoid mother: the earliest known case of multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2B? Clin Dysmorphol. 2012 Jul;21(3):131-136. doi: 10.1097/MCD.0b013e328353ae0c

This article was written for a physician audience. Others will find it hard going. Be assured that The Physical Lincoln was written for easy reading by a general audience.


The nature and cause of President Abraham Lincoln's unusual physical features have long been debated, with the greatest attention directed at two monogenic disorders of the transforming growth factor beta system: Marfan syndrome and multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2B.

The present report examines newly discovered phenotypic information about Lincoln's biological mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, and concludes that:

  1. Lincoln's mother was skeletally marfanoid,
  2. The President and his mother were highly concordant for the presence of numerous facial features found in various transforming growth factor beta disorders, and
  3. Lincoln's mother, like her son, had hypotonic skeletal muscles, resulting in myopathic facies and 'pseudodepression'.

These conclusions establish that mother and son had the same monogenic autosomal dominant marfanoid disorder. A description of Nancy Hanks Lincoln as coarse-featured, and a little-known statement that a wasting disease contributed to her death at age 34, lends support to the multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2B hypothesis.

Full Text of the Article

Not freely available. Available behind paywall.

Copyright (C) 2007-2015 by Mt. Vernon Book Systems. All Rights Reserved. Nothing herein should be construed as medical advice.