Información

Mary Lincoln


Mary Todd, hija de Eliza Parker y Robert Smith Todd, nació en Lexington, Kentucky el 13 de diciembre de 1818. Su padre era un rico banquero y abogado que era miembro activo del Partido Whig. Su madre murió cuando Mary tenía seis años y no se llevaba bien con su madrastra.

En 1839, Mary se fue a vivir con su hermana a Springfield, Illinois. Mientras estaba allí, conoció a Abraham Lincoln. A pesar de las objeciones de su familia, la pareja se casó en noviembre de 1842. La pareja tuvo cuatro hijos: Robert Lincoln (1843-1926), Edward Lincoln (1846-50), William Lincoln (1850-62) y Thomas Lincoln (1853- 1871). Tres de los niños murieron jóvenes y solo Robert vivió lo suficiente para casarse y tener hijos.

Cuando Abraham Lincoln fue a Washington para ocupar su asiento en la Cámara de Representantes en 1847, Mary y los niños le acompañaron. Lincoln sintió que Mary "me estorbó un poco para ocuparme de los negocios" y al año siguiente el resto de la familia regresó a Springfield.

La muerte de Edward Lincoln el 1 de febrero de 1850 provocó que Mary tuviera una crisis espiritual. Dejó de asistir a los servicios episcopales y se convirtió en miembro de la Iglesia Presbiteriana.

Mary no compartió las opiniones políticas progresistas de su marido, pero lo apoyó en su campaña para convertirse en presidente. Después de su victoria en 1860, Mary se reunió con él en Washington. Incómoda en su nuevo entorno, tendía a compensar en exceso gastando grandes sumas de dinero en ropa. Esto resultó en que ella acumulara enormes deudas.

William Lincoln murió en 1862. Devastada por la pérdida de su segundo hijo, Mary se interesó por el espiritismo. Los amigos se preocuparon por su salud mental cuando comenzó a afirmar que el espíritu de William venía a visitarla por la noche.

Durante la Guerra Civil estadounidense, Mary estuvo bajo la influencia de Charles Sumner. Ahora se convirtió en una ardiente abolicionista y se volvió más radical en este tema que su esposo. Su costurera y ex esclava, Elizabeth Keckley, también ayudó a cambiar su punto de vista sobre la esclavitud.

Mary estaba con su esposo en el Teatro Ford cuando John Wilkes Booth lo asesinó el 14 de abril de 1865. Este evento tuvo un impacto negativo en su estado mental y sufrió frecuentes episodios de depresión profunda.

La situación empeoró en 1867 cuando William Herndon escribió un libro en el que afirmaba que Lincoln le había dicho que Ann Rutledge, y no Mary, había sido el amor de su vida. Ella respondió comentando: "¡Este es el regreso de toda la bondad de mi esposo hacia este hombre miserable! Por lástima lo llevó a su oficina, cuando era casi un borracho desesperado y solo era un esclavo, en el lugar".

Profundamente molesta por la revelación de Herndon, Mary y su hijo pequeño, Thomas Lincoln, se mudaron a Alemania. Sin embargo, la mala salud de su hijo la obligó a regresar a Estados Unidos. Poco después, Thomas murió de tuberculosis.

Mary sigue preocupándose innecesariamente por el dinero. Charles Sumner había persuadido al Congreso de que le concediera una pensión de 3000 dólares al año. También había recibido un gran porcentaje de la herencia de su marido. Sin embargo, su convicción de que era pobre, resultó en un comportamiento extraño e irracional. Esto incluyó vender su ropa y escribir cartas pidiendo dinero a políticos prominentes. En 1875, su único hijo superviviente, Robert Lincoln, organizó una audiencia de cordura. La corte la juzgó loca y fue internada en un sanatorio en Batavia, Illinois.

El 15 de junio de 1876, un segundo juicio juzgó a Mary cuerda y se fue a vivir con su hermana a Springfield. Su salud siguió deteriorándose y se negó a salir de su dormitorio. Mary Todd Lincoln murió el 16 de julio de 1882.

A las 11 de la noche me despertó una vieja amiga y vecina, la señorita M. Brown, con la sorprendente inteligencia de que todo el gabinete había sido asesinado y el señor Lincoln había sido baleado, pero no herido de muerte. Cuando escuché las palabras sentí como si la sangre se hubiera congelado en mis venas, y que mis pulmones debían colapsar por falta de aire. ¡Disparo del Sr. Lincoln! el Gabinete asesinado!

Desperté al Sr. y la Sra. Lewis y les dije que dispararon al presidente y que debía ir a la Casa Blanca. Caminamos rápidamente hacia la Casa Blanca, y de camino pasamos por la residencia del secretario Seward, que estaba rodeada de soldados armados, reteniendo a todos los intrusos con la punta de la bayoneta.

Nos enteramos de que el presidente estaba herido de muerte, que había sido derribado en su palco en el teatro y que no se esperaba que viviera hasta la mañana; cuando regresamos a casa con el corazón apesadumbrado. No pude dormir. Quería ir a la Sra. Lincoln, ya que la imaginaba loca de dolor; pero entonces no sabía dónde encontrarla y debía esperar hasta la mañana. Nunca las horas pasaron tan lentamente. Cada momento parecía una eternidad, y no podía hacer nada más que caminar y sostener mis brazos en agonía mental.

Por fin llegó la mañana, y fue una mañana triste. Las banderas que ayer flotaban tan alegremente ahora estaban cubiertas de negro y colgaban en silenciosos pliegues a media asta. El presidente había muerto y una nación estaba de luto por él. Cada casa estaba vestida de negro y cada rostro tenía una mirada solemne. La gente hablaba en tonos tenues y se deslizaba susurrando, maravillada y silenciosamente por las calles.

La última vez que lo vi me habló amablemente, pero ¡ay! los labios nunca más se moverían. La luz se había desvanecido de sus ojos, y cuando la luz se apagó, el alma se fue con ella. ¡Qué alma noble era la suya, noble en todos los nobles atributos de Dios! Nunca entré a la solemne cámara de la muerte con el corazón palpitante y los pasos tan temblorosos como entré ese día. Ningún mortal común había muerto. El Moisés de mi pueblo había caído en la hora de su triunfo. La fama había tejido su corona más selecta para su frente. Aunque la frente estaba fría y pálida por la muerte, la coronilla no debería desvanecerse, porque Dios la había tachonado con la gloria de las estrellas eternas.

Cuando entré en la habitación, los miembros del Gabinete y muchos distinguidos oficiales del ejército estaban agrupados alrededor del cuerpo de su jefe caído. Me hicieron lugar y, acercándome al cuerpo, levanté la tela blanca del rostro blanco del hombre al que había adorado como un ídolo, considerado como un semidiós. A pesar de la violencia de la muerte del presidente, había algo hermoso y grandiosamente solemne en la expresión del rostro plácido. Allí acechaba la dulzura y la dulzura de la infancia, y la majestuosa grandeza del intelecto divino. Miré largo rato el rostro y me di la vuelta con lágrimas en los ojos y una sensación de asfixia en la garganta. ¡Ah! Nunca antes el hombre había sido tan llorado. El mundo entero inclinó la cabeza en dolor cuando murió Abraham Lincoln.

Ese, ese miserable ebrio Johnson, tuvo conocimiento de la muerte de mi esposo. Por qué, si esa tarjeta de Booth, encontrada en su caja, ciertamente existía algún conocido. Me ha impresionado profundamente la angustiosa idea de que él se había entendido con los conspiradores y ellos conocían a su hombre. Seguro que tú y yo vivimos, Johnson, participamos en todo esto.

Hubo muchas conjeturas sobre quién estaba implicado con J. Wilkes Booth en el asesinato del presidente. Un nuevo mensajero había acompañado al señor Lincoln al teatro aquella terrible noche de viernes. Era deber de este mensajero estar en la puerta del palco durante la actuación, y así proteger a los internos de toda intrusión. Parece que el mensajero se dejó llevar por la obra y descuidó tanto su deber que Booth ganó fácilmente la entrada al palco. La Sra. Lincoln creía firmemente que este mensajero estaba implicado en el complot de asesinato.

Poco después del asesinato, la Sra. Lincoln le dijo ferozmente: "¡Así que esta noche está en guardia, en guardia en la Casa Blanca después de ayudar a asesinar al presidente!"

"Disculpe, pero no ayudé a asesinar al presidente. Nunca podría rebajarme a asesinar, mucho menos al asesinato de un hombre tan bueno y grande como el presidente".

"Pero parece que te rebajaste a asesinar".

"¡No, no! No digas eso", interrumpió. "Dios sabe que soy inocente".

"No te creo. ¿Por qué no estabas en la puerta para mantener alejado al asesino cuando se apresuró a entrar en la caja?"

"Hice mal, lo admito, y me he arrepentido amargamente, pero no ayudé a matar al presidente. No creía que nadie intentaría matar a un hombre tan bueno en un lugar tan público, y la creencia se hizo Me descuidé. Me atrajo la obra, y no vi al asesino entrar en el palco ".

"Pero deberías haberlo visto. No tenías por qué ser descuidado. Siempre creeré que eres culpable. ¡Silencio! No escucharé una palabra más", exclamó, mientras el mensajero intentaba responder. "Ve ahora y mantén tu guardia", agregó, con un imperioso movimiento de la mano. Con paso mecánico y rostro pálido, el mensajero abandonó la habitación y la señora Lincoln se dejó caer sobre la almohada, se cubrió la cara con las manos y empezó a sollozar.


Biografía de Mary Todd Lincoln, Primera Dama atribulada

Mary Todd Lincoln (del 13 de diciembre de 1818 al 16 de julio de 1882) fue la esposa del presidente Abraham Lincoln. Se convirtió en una figura de controversia y crítica durante su paso por la Casa Blanca. Después de su muerte y la muerte de tres de sus hijos, ella sufrió un gran dolor y estaba emocionalmente errática.

Hechos rápidos: Mary Todd Lincoln

  • Conocido por: Esposa de Abraham Lincoln, fue una primera dama controvertida
  • También conocido como: Mary Ann Todd Lincoln
  • Nació: 13 de diciembre de 1818 en Lexington, Kentucky
  • Padres: Robert Smith Todd y Eliza (Parker) Todd
  • Murió: 16 de julio de 1882 en Springfield, Illinois
  • Educación: Shelby Female Academy, el internado de Madame Mantelle
  • Esposa: Abraham Lincoln
  • Niños: Robert Todd Lincoln, Edward Baker Lincoln, William "Willie" Wallace Lincoln, Thomas "Tad" Lincoln
  • Cita notable: "Parece que soy el chivo expiatorio tanto del Norte como del Sur".

30. Mary & rsquos madre falleció cuando era una niña

A pesar de que Mary creció cómodamente, atravesó un dolor de corazón. Como banquero de la ciudad, el padre de Mary & rsquos, Robert Todd, poseía esclavos. Su esposa y madre de Mary, Elizabeth & ldquoEliza & rdquo Todd permanecieron en casa con sus hijos, tres de los cuales llegaron a este mundo antes que Mary.

María vivió una vida sin preocupaciones hasta que un día su madre se puso de parto de su séptimo hijo. Durante el parto, Eliza contacta con la fiebre puerperal y nunca se recupera. Unos días después de dar a luz a George, Eliza falleció. Durante los siguientes dos años, la abuela materna y la hermana mayor de Mary & rsquos la cuidaron.


MARYGATE: EL ESCÁNDALO DE LINCOLN

A lo largo de los años, Mary Todd Lincoln ha sido llamada musaraña, gata infernal y loca.

Ahora, nuevas revelaciones de un amigo cercano de su esposo, el presidente Abraham Lincoln, sugieren que otro título podría estar en orden: ladrón.

Las selecciones de diarios del senador estadounidense Owen Hickman Browning de Illinois relatan cargos detallados de un juez y un sirviente de la mansión en los que la controvertida primera dama se involucró, entre otras cosas, en el relleno desenfrenado de la cuenta de gastos de la Casa Blanca.

Los jugosos detalles se han escondido en una biblioteca estatal en Springfield desde la década de 1920, por orden de un descendiente de Browning a quien le agradaba la Sra. Lincoln y quería protegerla. Los historiadores han leído durante mucho tiempo los diarios de Browning para obtener información sobre la era de Lincoln, pero nunca se les permitió ver un puñado de entradas borradas como condición de venta al estado.

Sin embargo, recientemente, los administradores de la Biblioteca Histórica de Illinois, perseguidos por historiadores durante años, decidieron que guardar los diarios violaba el papel de la biblioteca como archivo. Aunque el mundo en general no lo notó, el lanzamiento de los pasajes secretos de Browning hace una semana se ha encontrado con casi éxtasis en el mundo de los aficionados a Lincoln.

"Simplemente se comportó terriblemente", dijo Michael Burlingame, un destacado autor de Lincoln y profesor de historia en el Connecticut College que había estado tras los extractos durante años. "La gente ha tendido a blanquear las cosas para Mary Lincoln. Esto hace que sea un poco más difícil hacerlo & quot.

En realidad, Mary Lincoln ha recibido más mala prensa que buena en los 102 años transcurridos desde su muerte. Cada nuevo diario, carta y biografía ha revelado nuevos detalles sobre su temperamento feroz y ataques de locura. Y los cargos que robó al gobierno federal han surgido antes.

Ahora las cuentas de Browning agregan datos creíbles para respaldar esos cargos, dijeron los historiadores.

Las entradas del diario incluyen detalles de las conversaciones de Browning con el juez David Davis, quien llamó a la Sra. Lincoln y al ladrón nato de cuotas. ella se fue, según Davis, quien actuó como administradora de la propiedad de Lincoln en un momento.

"La tentación fue una especie de locura para ella", le dijo Davis a Browning, según una entrada del 29 de julio de 1861, hecha 14 años antes de que la Sra. Lincoln fuera admitida durante seis meses en un manicomio de Batavia.

Además, un empleado de la mansión llamado "Stackpole" dijo que la Sra. Lincoln y un jardinero de la mansión conspiraron para inventar facturas falsas para obtener el pago de gastos privados del tesoro público, un 3 de marzo de 1862, cuenta la entrada.

En un caso, dijo Stackpole, Mary Lincoln compró una placa de plata para su uso personal, pero se la facturó al gobierno. En otro, contrató a un sirviente de nómina fantasma con un salario del gobierno de $ 100 al mes, pero se quedó con el dinero para ella.

Stackpole también dijo que la Sra. Lincoln filtró los documentos privados del presidente a sus enemigos políticos y se reunió en privado con uno de forma regular.

Browning defiende a Mary Lincoln en los diarios.

Es cierto, escribió, que ella tenía un "temperamento infeliz e ingobernable". Pero él creía que "todos los cargos en su contra por haber robado de la Casa Blanca eran falsos", escribió.

Aún así, las entradas preocuparon a la sobrina de Browning, Eliza Miller, quien vendió los diarios al estado de Illinois hace 80 años. Una vez visitó a los Lincoln en la Casa Blanca y encontró que Mary Lincoln era cálida y amigable, dijo Tom Schwartz, curador de Lincoln en la biblioteca histórica del estado.

Ella amenazó con quemar los diarios si el estado no accedía a ocultar las partes malas, dijo. Su familia dio su bendición a la publicación de los diarios la semana pasada.

Miller no fue el único defensor de Mary Lincoln. Especialmente en los últimos años, se ha convertido en una especie de icono para las feministas, que la consideran víctima póstuma de una reacción violenta.

La gente la culpa porque, como Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan y Hillary Rodham Clinton, fue influyente en la administración de su marido, dicen.

Además, su esposo fue visto haciendo cosas "no masculinas" a petición de ella, según una defensora de Mary Todd Lincoln.

"Solía ​​llevar a los bebés por Springfield", dijo Samuel Schreiner, editor retirado de Reader's Digest y autor del libro "The Trials of Mrs. Lincoln", con sede en Connecticut.

Una vez lo sorprendieron haciendo tareas domésticas. La gente pensó que ella lo empujaba ''.

El socio legal de Lincoln la llamó & cuota mujer salvaje de la edad & quot ;, dijo John Y. Simon, profesor de historia en la Universidad del Sur de Illinois en Carbondale. Un asistente de Lincoln se hizo eco del sentimiento, una vez que escribió que el & quothellcat & quot se estaba volviendo & quot más infernalmente catético & quot; día a día. Un senador dijo que parecía una vaca.

"Definitivamente hay una imagen antifeminista", dijo Jean Baker, una biógrafa de Mary Todd Lincoln que intentó enérgicamente en la década de 1980 hacerse con las partes borradas de los diarios de Browning.

"Ésta es una mujer con malos rasgos. Pero también tenía buenos rasgos ", dijo Jean Baker, una biógrafa de Mary Todd Lincoln que intentó enérgicamente en la década de 1980 hacerse con las partes borradas de los diarios de Browning. “Era inteligente, enérgica, ayudaba a su marido. Parece haber una incapacidad para ver algo bueno en Mary Lincoln ''.

A pesar de su reputación, Mary Lincoln todavía inspira cierto asombro entre muchos.

"Ella apoyó a su hombre", dijo Jill Ester, quien viajó desde Nebraska la semana pasada solo para visitar la casa de la familia en Springfield, ahora un hito histórico. "La mayoría de las mujeres se sientan y dejan que las cosas sucedan".

"Tal vez se adelantó un poco a su tiempo", dijo Barb Gennardo, maestra de cuarto grado en una excursión desde St. Charles.


Mary Todd se convierte en la Sra. Lincoln

Aunque hoy en día se la conoce con frecuencia como Mary Todd Lincoln, una vez que se casó nunca incluyó su apellido de soltera en su firma, a diferencia de su media hermana Emilie Todd Helm. Mary firmó su nombre Sra. Abraham Lincoln o Sra. A. Lincoln.

Mary Lincoln daría a luz a cuatro hijos, todos varones. Solo el primero, Robert Todd, llamado así por el padre de Mary, viviría hasta la edad adulta. Entre sus muchos éxitos, se convertiría en secretario de guerra, ministro en Londres (el título fue cambiado a embajador con su sucesor), un abogado muy exitoso, presidente de la Pullman Car Company y millonario.

Los otros niños eran Edward & quotEddie & quot (o & quotEddy & quot) Baker (1846 & ndash1850), llamado así por un amigo cercano de la familia. La muerte de este niño llevó a Mary a una depresión debilitante por un tiempo y predijo los profundos y prolongados períodos de duelo que experimentaría más tarde. William & quotWillie & quot Wallace (1850 & ndash1862), llamado así por el Dr. William Wallace, el esposo de Mary & # 8217s hermana Frances, parece haber sido el favorito de sus padres, y su muerte parece haber comenzado un marcado declive en la emocionalidad de su madre. estabilidad. Tras su muerte, la hermana de Mary, Elizabeth, siempre una especie de madre sustituta para ella, fue convocada a Washington y permaneció dos meses cuidando de Mary, que estaba demasiado postrada para siquiera cuidar al hijo menor de Lincoln, que estaba enfermo en el tiempo. Ese niño era Thomas & quotTad & quot (1853 & ndash1871), llamado así por el padre de Lincoln que había muerto dos años antes.

Mary, con su permanente interés en la política, se convirtió en una ayudante de Lincoln en su carrera política. Entre otras cosas, ella mejoró su vestuario y mdash algo a lo que él prestó poca atención y resumió artículos de periódicos para él, y los dos discutieron temas políticos. Si bien las mujeres no podían elegir candidatos en ese momento, Mary participó en campañas de redacción de cartas y organizó eventos sociales, como una fiesta de fresas que atrajo a 300 invitados a la casa de Lincoln (presumiblemente no todos a la vez). Cuando su esposo se enteró de que había ganado la presidencia en 1860, según los informes, corrió a casa desde la oficina de telégrafos gritando: "¡María, somos elegidos!".

Su personalidad siempre había sido voluble, un primo describió a Mary en la infancia como si fuera un día de abril, y cotizaba en un momento, y al siguiente lloraba como si su corazón se fuera a romper. la casa, e incluso golpearlo. Otros relatos de vecinos cercanos y de personas que visitaban con frecuencia la casa de Lincoln en un vecindario de clase media alta en Springfield presentan una imagen de una pareja muy enamorada. En 1869, escribió: "Desde mi decimoctavo año & mdashSiempre & mdashlover & mdashhusband & mdashfather & amp all to me & mdash verdaderamente my all".

Ella era intensamente leal a su esposo. Cuando fue derrotado en su segundo intento de ganar un escaño en el Senado de los Estados Unidos por un amigo, Mary dejó de hablar con la esposa del hombre. Cerca del final de la Guerra Civil, cuando la media hermana de Mary, Emilie Todd Helm, una de las favoritas de los Lincoln, le escribió enojada al presidente: "Tus balas de Minnie nos han convertido en lo que somos", Lincoln la perdonó. Mary nunca lo hizo.

Cuando Lincoln fue elegido para su único mandato en el Congreso de los Estados Unidos de 1846 & ndash48, Mary y los niños se fueron con él a Washington, pero pronto viajaron a Kentucky para quedarse con su madrastra y sus hermanastros. Las dos mujeres, ahora mayores y que habían experimentado la maternidad, estaban en mejores términos, aunque Mary le escribió a Lincoln: "Si pensaba que alguno de nosotros estaba en sus manos otra vez, estaría peor que nunca".

Después de que ganó la elección a la presidencia, la familia se mudó a Washington, D.C. Ninguno de ellos volvería a vivir en la casa de Springfield.


Mary Todd Lincoln

Lady La mayoría de las Primeras Damas del siglo XIX sirvieron tradicionalmente como partidaria detrás de escena de su esposo en sus deberes oficiales. Los cónyuges presidenciales modernos pueden ser iguales pero también ser activistas comprometidos con una causa digna. Sin embargo, no importa cuál sea su función, a su marido nunca le conviene que atraigan publicidad adversa de alguna manera. Un ejemplo desafortunado de esta premisa fue Mary Todd Lincoln. Porque, mientras Abraham Lincoln estaba lidiando con las complejidades de una nación dividida por la guerra, Mary Todd Lincoln estaba ocupada comprando y acumulando grandes facturas, celebrando sesiones para llegar a su hijo muerto y organizando despotricaciones de celos cuando su esposo prestó cortés atención a otra mujer. . ¿Estaba loca la Sra. Lincoln? Un jurado la encontraría más tarde, al menos temporalmente, pero no obstante, era una mujer compleja en una era compleja en un entorno complejo. Sin embargo, quizás todo lo que caracterizó a Mary Lincoln pudo haber sido exagerado simplemente porque ella era la esposa y luego viuda del legendario Gran Emancipador.

Si Abraham Lincoln fue conocido por haber nacido y criado en la pobreza fronteriza, entonces Mary Todd nació en la riqueza y el privilegio & # 8211 en esa misma frontera. Nacida en diciembre de 1813 en Lexington, Kentucky, Mary (a menudo llamada Molly) Todd era la tercera hija de un hombre de negocios / legislador estatal de Kentucky, y su primera esposa, y nació en lo que un biógrafo llamó una familia & # 8220clannish & # 8221. . Molly Todd y sus cuatro hermanos se quedaron sin madre en 1825 cuando su madre murió al dar a luz junto con el recién nacido. El Sr. Todd se volvió a casar poco después, una mujer de una familia de Virginia que tenía ideas elevadas sobre cómo inculcar ideas aristocráticas en los niños Todd. Además de lidiar con la muerte de su madre, Mary demostró ser una niña independiente que presentaría una oposición incondicional a los planes de la nueva Sra. Todd.

Mary asistió a escuelas privadas y luego, a los 14 años, se matriculó en una escuela de terminación residencial donde el plan de estudios enfatizaba los modales, el baile y el francés. Después de completar su educación, Mary viajó a Springfield, Illinois para visitar a su hermana Lizzie, quien estaba casada con la abogada Ninian Edwards. Se mudó allí de forma permanente en 1839.

Mary, una joven de 20 años de cabello castaño y mejillas rosadas, era una coqueta franca y, como tal, era una nueva adición a lo que era una capital del estado fronterizo rústico. Dado que la hermana Lizzie era socialmente consciente, naturalmente esperaba que Mary encontrara un pretendiente entre los jóvenes de su círculo social. En cambio, Mary tenía el ojo puesto en un abogado alto y larguirucho de origen pobre. En 1840, ella y Abraham Lincoln se comprometieron a pesar de que la Sra. Edwards pensaba que era un desajuste porque eran demasiado diferentes. Sin embargo, como dijo un biógrafo: “La verdad es que Molly gravitó hacia la persona positiva de mente fuerte, tal vez admiraba tanto la dureza mental que había quedado fuera de su química. Era una mujer llena de sentimientos e impulsos, incapaz de conspirar para encontrar un marido ”. (Perfiles y retratos de presidentes estadounidenses y sus esposas, Margaret Bassett, p. 150)

Sin embargo, cuando en enero de 1841 Lincoln canceló el compromiso, posiblemente porque sintió la falta de un verdadero matrimonio por amor, Mary regresó al torbellino social. Mientras Lincoln se enfermaba de preocupación por la separación, Mary comenzó a ver a otro político de Springfield llamado Stephan A. Douglas. Sin embargo, aunque este romance no evolucionó, mientras tanto, una serie de eventos inusuales pronto reunirían a Mary y Lincoln.

Un periódico local publicó una serie de cartas de autor ficticio burlándose de un político local. Mientras Lincoln escribía dos cartas en tonos humorísticos, Mary y un amigo contribuyeron con una carta más directa. El político comenzó a sospechar de la identidad del autor de esta última carta y para evitar repercusiones en Mary, Lincoln afirmó ser el autor infractor. El político desafió a Lincoln a un duelo, pero con la intención de evitar cualquier pregunta a cualquiera de ellos sugirió que resolvieran el asunto con espadas. El político era un hombre bajo, por lo que Lincoln tenía la ventaja, pero cuando el duelo estaba por comenzar, el político vio la incongruencia, se volvió más razonable y aceptó una disculpa. Sin embargo, debido a estos eventos, Mary y Lincoln se reunieron y se casaron en noviembre de 1842 en la casa de Edwards.

En el momento de su matrimonio, Lincoln era un abogado que seguía los tribunales de circuito de una comunidad a otra, por lo que Mary a menudo estaba sola en su primer alojamiento en una taberna / posada local. En 1844, compraron una estructura de historia y media y con la eventual adición del segundo piso, la casa se conocería como la histórica Lincoln Homestead en Springfield, Illinois.

Gradualmente, la situación financiera de los Lincoln mejoró a medida que Mary se dedicó a su familia, pero sus intensos esfuerzos a menudo la agotaron e incluso le provocaron migrañas. Esto provocó estallidos emocionales ocasionales, que Lincoln aceptó pacientemente. & # 8220 Le hace mucho bien ”, les dijo a sus amigos,“ y no & # 8217t me duele un poco. & # 8221

Su primer hijo & # 8211 de un eventual cuatro & # 8211 fue Robert Todd, nacido en agosto de 1843, un niño que creció para seguir no solo una exitosa carrera comercial y de servicio público, sino también para ser el único hijo de Lincoln en llegar a la edad adulta. El segundo hijo, Edward, nacido en marzo de 1846, vivió lo suficiente para acompañar a su familia a Washington, donde Lincoln cumplió un período en el Congreso, pero el niño murió en febrero de 1850. En diciembre de ese mismo año nació el tercer hijo William. y el cuarto, Thomas (llamado Tad) nació en abril de 1853.

La casa de Lincoln probablemente era muy típica de otras casas de Springfield. Lincoln llamó a Mary & # 8220Mother & # 8221 y ella lo llamó & # 8220Father & # 8221 o & # 8220Mr. Lincoln. & # 8221 Los niños con sus ropas hechas en casa jugaban con los niños del vecindario y, a menudo, visitaban la oficina de Lincoln. Mary era una presbiteriana activa y una vecina impulsivamente amable. Según un relato, poco después de que naciera Tad, cuando una vecina con un nuevo bebé se enfermó, Mary envió a su esposo a buscar al bebé y luego lo devolvió después de que Mary lo había alimentado.

Sin embargo, Mary también tuvo problemas. Tenía poco concepto de frugalidad y siempre estaba dispuesta a expresar una opinión sobre los demás. Un hombre con el que encontró fallas fue Billy Herndon, el joven abogado asociado de Lincoln, lo que ofendió tanto a Herndon que su aversión por ella manchó su contribución a una futura biografía de Lincoln.

Cuando la carrera política de Lincoln alcanzó su culminación en la presidencia, Mary decidió vestirse adecuadamente. Viajó a Nueva York para elegir lo mejor en galas femeninas, pero resultó que gastó de más y fue el único comienzo del problema.

Al principio, se planeó que Lincoln viajaría a Washington en un tren especial, acompañado por asistentes políticos, parando para discursos y recepciones, mientras que Mary y los dos niños más pequeños los seguirían en un tren regular de pasajeros. Sin embargo, Mary no quiso perderse la emoción de la ocasión, por lo que la familia se unió a los ayudantes políticos y amigos en el tren oficial. Sin embargo, aunque la Sra. Lincoln podría sonreír y saludar desde la ventana del tren, mantuvo un perfil bajo. Willie y Tad, por otro lado, saltaban del tren en cada parada, corrían entre la multitud y luego tenían que ser rastreados y recargados cuando llegaba el momento de irse.

Luego, cuando el tren se acercaba a Washington, un empleado del ferrocarril llamado Allen Pinkerton subió a bordo para informar al partido presidencial sobre una amenaza de atacar al presidente cuando llegaran a Baltimore. Había habido amenazas contra Lincoln e incluso contra Mary, en su mayoría del sur, y dado que Baltimore era una ciudad del sur en términos de sentimiento, era un peligro real. La idea de Pinkerton era permitir que el tren se dirigiera a Washington sin Lincoln, que entraría en la capital en secreto. Sin embargo, no ocurrió nada y la familia se reunió a salvo en Washington. Luego, a pesar de la amenaza de guerra que se avecinaba, se procedió a la inauguración. En el baile de inauguración, debido a que el presidente no bailó, Mary abrió las festividades con el candidato demócrata derrotado y ex novio Stephen A. Douglas.

Durante los meses siguientes, Mary demostró ser una Primera Dama exitosa. A pesar de la guerra, había un gran deseo por lo normal, por lo que Mary mantuvo una apretada agenda de recepciones, fiestas y otros eventos sociales. Los visitantes la encontraron una anfitriona cálida e hizo muchos amigos incluso entre los oponentes políticos. Fue asistida por una ex esclava llamada Lizzie Keckley que había venido a trabajar a la Casa Blanca como costurera y permaneció como asistente de Mary.

Sin embargo, Mary pronto se encontró en el centro de una controversia debido a su familia. Después de todo, ella era una Todd de Lexington, Kentucky y los Todd & # 8217 eran confederados & # 8211 y, de hecho, algunos miembros de su familia estaban luchando contra el sindicato. Sin embargo, aunque trató de dejar de lado los lazos familiares debido a la guerra, al menos una vez no fue tan fácil.

En la última parte de 1864, la media hermana de Mary, Emilie Todd Helm (o & # 8220Little Sister & # 8221, como la llamaba cariñosamente Lincoln) fue contenida cuando trató de regresar a Lexington con su hija. Lincoln ordenó que la enviaran a Washington para una breve visita. Sin embargo, pronto su gasto excesivo presentó un nuevo desafío.

El Congreso había asignado $ 20,000 para redecorar la Casa Blanca, pero cuando terminó, gastó $ 6,700. Lincoln se enfureció cuando descubrió que ella había gastado tanto. "Apestaría en las fosas nasales del pueblo estadounidense que se dijera que el presidente de los Estados Unidos aprobó un proyecto de ley que excede una asignación de $ 20,000 para flub dubs, para esta maldita casa vieja, cuando los soldados no pueden tener mantas", dijo Lincoln. . Si el Congreso no hubiera cubierto el excedente, habría salido del bolsillo de Lincoln.

Luego, a principios de 1862, Tad y Willie enfermaron gravemente. Aunque Tad sobrevivió, Willie, de 11 años, no. Debido a que Mary estaba tan afligida, pasaron varios meses antes de que pudiera volver a algo parecido a una rutina normal. A partir de entonces, no vistió nada más que de negro y evitó todo lo que le recordara a Willie, incluido su dormitorio y la habitación donde lo habían preparado para el entierro. Incluso consultó a médiums y espiritistas, a pesar de que Lincoln & # 8217s denunció a algunos de ellos como fraudes.

Luego, en 1863, se dio cuenta de que su deuda personal de $ 29,000 se había convertido en un problema importante. Porque si Lincoln no fuera reelegido el próximo año, su deuda se haría pública y sus acreedores podrían volverse más apremiantes.

Cuando la Guerra Civil se acercaba a su fin en abril de 1862, Mary acompañó a Lincoln para asistir a una revisión de tropas cerca de Washington. Ella había hecho el viaje en una ambulancia del ejército y debido a que un viaje difícil los había retrasado, llegó demasiado tarde para montar a caballo y ocupar su lugar junto a su esposo. En cambio, la Sra. Ord, la esposa del comandante general, había tomado esa posición y Mary estaba lo suficientemente furiosa como para despotricar tanto contra la dama como contra el presidente. Después de una escena tan humillante, solo pudo alegar estar enferma y regresar a Washington. However, a few days later she was calm enough to make a return trip with an official party to inspect a scene of victory. By April 14, the war was over, and the Lincolns decided to celebrate with a trip to the theater.

Lincoln, Mary and a young couple went to Ford’s Theater to see the popular comedy “Our American Cousin” They were seated in a box, just off the stage, Lincoln in a rocking chair and Mary beside him. When John Wilkes Booth fired the fatal bullet, Mary screamed and fainted. By the time she was revived, the mortally wounded President had been removed across the street to a boarding house to await the end. A sobbing Mary came to his bedside several times, pleading for him respond, and though she was removed several times, she insisted she had to return. When he was finally pronounced dead early the next morning, the overwhelmed new widow was removed to the White House where she would remain for many weeks. The funeral and then the eventual burial in Springfield took place without her. In early June, 1865, the black swathed widow left Washington but not to return to Springfield, Instead she moved to Chicago. Congress had granted her a year’s presidential salary but though she bought a house, it turned out that she could not afford to live there. Since Lincoln had died without a will, his $87,000 estate had to be divided into three parts for his heirs, Mary, Tad and Robert. Finally, to cover her expenses she decided to sell her gowns and other accessories from the White House years. She had left with her extensive wardrobe though unfortunately rumors had arisen that she had attempted to smuggle White House valuables out in her hoop skirts.

Mary arranged for a commission broker to sell her property. Then after she entrusted appeal letters to the broker and the company used them for publicity she felt betrayed and backed out of the deal. Eventually she had to spend $800 to recovery her property.

Eventually Congress arranged for a pension of $3000 a year instead of the $5000 she wanted, but if she wished to retire from public notice, she was soon to be disappointed.

In 1868, Lizzie Keckley published a tell-all book called Behind the Scenes with the belief that she was defending Mary. Yet no matter her reasoning, Mary felt offended and betrayed.

Mary was so anxious to find peaceful obscurity she decided to move to Europe. In 1868 and she and Tad set off, but after nearly three years she had to return because Tad was ill. His death in July, 1871, possibly from tuberculosis, further devastated Mary.

In 1872, there was published a Lincoln autobiography, using some material provided by Billy Herndon, Lincoln’s one time law associate and no friend of Mary’s.

The widow was particularly disturbed over Herndon’s contention that Lincoln had been an agnostic. Her objections to the premise were so strong that Herndon retaliated with implications she was a lying harridan.

In a way, it was true. “She was, in fact, a woeful soul, traveling aimlessly, suffering hallucinations, sometimes spending wildly, sometimes obsessed with the fear of poverty.” (Bassett, p. 158)

At this time, Robert was so concerned about her inability to care for herself he had to bring legal action to declare her incompetent so she could get the care she needed. This meant a jury trial and was a final humiliation for the former First Lady. When she was declared legally insane, she tried to take poison, but when that failed she was removed to a sanitarium where she finally got the psychiatric care she needed. Improvement was so rapid, that she soon left the sanitarium to live with her sister Lizzie in Springfield. After a concerted crusade to reverse the insanity verdict, she succeeded in June 1876. After demanding Robert return her property, she moved to France.


Mary Todd Lincoln

Mary Todd Lincoln supported her husband throughout his presidency, and witnessed his fatal shooting at nearly point blank range at Ford’s Theater on April 14, 1865. Mary’s life was difficult after her husband was assassinated she suffered from depression and mental anguish, which led to her being hospitalized for a time.

Image: Mary Todd Lincoln in 1846

Mary Todd was born on December 13, 1818, in Lexington, Kentucky, the fourth of seven children born to banker Robert Smith Todd and Elizabeth Parker Todd. Robert Todd provided his children from two marriages with social standing and material advantages. When Mary was seven, her mother died. Mary’s father remarried to Elizabeth Humphreys in 1826. This marriage eventually brought nine more children into the house. Mary had a difficult relationship with her stepmother, who was not sympathetic toward her stepchildren, which may have contributed to Mary’s insecurities later in life.

Unlike most men of his era, Robert Todd believed that women should be well educated. At the age of eight, Mary began her formal education at Shelby Female Academy, where she studied grammar, geography, arithmetic, poetry, and literature. While Mary was trained in the social graces common to her class and time, the level of education she received was unusual.

At age 14, Mary entered Madame Victorie Mentelle’s Select Academy for young ladies, just outside Lexington. There she learned to write and speak French fluently, studied dance, drama, and music. In 1837, she began attending Dr. Ward’s Academy for advanced studies.

In 1839, after completing her education, Mary moved to Springfield, the new state capital of Illinois, to live with her older sister Elizabeth, who was married to Ninian Edwards, the son of a former governor of Illinois. At the age of 20, Mary was 5 feet 2 inches tall, with blue eyes and reddish-brown hair. The Edwardses were socially prominent, and Mary soon became a popular belle.

At a dance in Springfield, Mary met Abraham Lincoln, a junior partner in cousin John Todd Stuart’s law firm, who was ten years her senior. They fell in love and were engaged at the end of the following year.

Mary Todd and Abraham Lincoln were a study in contrasts. Nine years older, Lincoln came from a comparatively poor and undistinguished background. He was socially awkward, with less than two years of formal education. Mary’s vivacity and occasional flashes of the “Todd temper” was in marked contrast to his self-deprecating personality. Yet many things brought them together: a love of poetry, literature, and a keen interest in politics and political issues. Mary recognized Lincoln’s intellectual depth and political ambition before others did.

Image: Mary Todd Lincoln House

A fourteen-room Georgian mansion in Lexington, Kentucky, the Mary Todd Lincoln House has the distinction of being the first historic site restored in honor of a First Lady. Mary moved here with her family in 1832 when she was 14 years old. For four years, she attended boarding school during the week but returned home on the weekends. She continued to live there until 1839, when she moved to Springfield, Illinois.

Elizabeth and Ninian Edwards did not approve of the relationship. They believed Lincoln was far beneath Mary. In January 1841, perhaps with his poor background and debt in mind, Abraham asked Mary to release him from the engagement. After much depression, a friend arranged for them to get together again. After another year of clandestine meetings and secret preparations, on November 4, 1842, Mary informed the Edwardses that they were getting married that day. Elizabeth realized it was inevitable.

Mary Todd married Abraham Lincoln in the the front parlor of the Edwards home on the evening of November 4, 1842. Inside the ring Lincoln gave to Mary was the inscription: “Love Is Eternal.” He was 33 years old she was 23. With Abraham earning a modest income, for the first two years of their marriage, they lived in an $8-a-week room at the Globe Tavern in Springfield.

Their four sons were all born in Springfield:
Robert Todd Lincoln (1843–1926), a lawyer, diplomat, and businessman.
Edward Baker Lincoln, known as Eddie (1846–1850)
William Wallace Lincoln, known as Willie (1850–1862), died while Lincoln was President.
Thomas Lincoln, known as Tad (1853–1871), died six years after his father’s assassination.

In 1844, the Lincolns purchased their first and only home at Eighth and Jackson Streets in Springfield. Their home together from 1844 until 1861 still stands in Springfield, and is now the Lincoln Home National Historic Site.

In marrying Lincoln, Mary exchanged her life of relative ease and privilege for that of a working lawyer’s wife. While he was gone for extended periods riding circuit, she was doing much of the household labor and raising four sons. But Mary continued to advance her husband’s political career. He valued her judgment and once observed that he had no reason to read a book after Mary had reviewed it for him.

Still, Lincoln’s career progressed slowly. One term in Congress came amidst several failures to gain his party’s nomination for political office. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1846 and the family moved to Washington, DC, living first at Brown’s Hotel, then in Ann Sprigg’s boarding house (now the site of the Library of Congress). Before his term ended, Mary returned to Kentucky with the boys in 1848.

In 1849 Lincoln’s term ended and he returned to Springfield. Soon, the first of Mary’s tragedies occurred when her father died of cholera in July 1849. Less than a year later, in February 1850, Eddie Lincoln died of diphtheria. He was not yet four years old. Afterwards, Mary could not speak his name without crying.

Image: Abraham Lincoln in 1857
Alexander Hesler, Photographer

Mary took an active role in promoting Lincoln’s political career. When he was offered the governorship of the Oregon territory, she advised against his accepting the post since it would remove him from the national stage in the East. She often wrote to influential friends in Kentucky regarding Lincoln’s views on slavery. As the division between the northern and southern sections of the country widened, Lincoln’s speeches on limiting the spread of slavery, while preserving the Union, were much admired.

Mary’s vigorous defense and support of Lincoln’s presidential candidacy in 1860 her willingness to speak with reporters who came to Springfield to cover his campaign, and during the transition period between election and inauguration, prove her eagerness to assume a prominent public role in her husband’s presidency.

Due to the sectional strife and imminent secession of South Carolina, however, Lincoln’s 1861 inaugural was overshadowed by threats on his life. Many of the wealthy southern families who had dominated the social-political life of the national capital were leaving and those remaining social leaders, including the outgoing First Lady Harriet Lane, had pre-judged the western Mrs. Lincoln as unsuited to assume a social leadership role.

First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln
Mary Todd Lincoln was thrilled to become First Lady, at the age of 42. She held elegant buffet dinners, invited intellectuals and literary figures to the White House, and welcomed visitors and guests to her Thursday night receptions and spring and winter receptions. She balanced her social role with an interest in public affairs, reading political journals and newspapers, attending congressional debates, and advising her husband on administration appointments. But even as the public began to regard her as First Lady, she referred to herself as Mrs. President.

Media accounts described the new First Lady as plump and plain, and she took such reports as an insult, not just to her but to her husband. Everything she wore was scrutinized and critiqued in the newspapers, convincing her more and more that she needed to wear the very finest fashions. She spent more on clothes than her husband could afford, but her spending only added to the public ridicule. She was the first presidential wife to be called First Lady in the press, as documented in both the London Times and Sacramento Union newspapers.

Mary spoke her mind on political matters – sometimes in French – and in a time when women were supposed to be demure and soft-spoken, she came across too forcefully.

Mary Lincoln viewed her expensive 1861 White House redecoration (over-running a Federal appropriation of $20,000) as a necessary effort to create an image of the stability that would command respect not only for the President, but for the Union. She instead conveyed the image of a selfish and indulgent woman, inconsiderate of the suffering the nation’s families were enduring as a result of the war her husband was managing.

Image: Mary Todd Lincoln during the Civil War

During her tenure at the White House, Mary often visited hospitals around Washington, where she gave flowers and fruit to wounded soldiers. In some cases, she helped with their correspondence. From time to time, she accompanied Lincoln on military visits to the field. Mary offered intelligence she had learned as well as her own advice to the President on military personnel, recommended minor military appointments to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, toured Union Army camps and reviewed troops with her husband.

She was largely successful in her objective of using entertaining as a means of raising Union morale. She was not successful in her efforts to oust Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase, Secretary of State William Seward, General George B. McClellan and General Ulysses S. Grant.

Two public causes in which Mary Lincoln became involved attested to her genuine support of the Union Army and the freedom of slaves: the Sanitary Commission fairs, which raised private donations to supplement Federal funds for supplies for the soldiers fighting on the front, and the Contraband Relief Association. The latter raised private donations, for the housing, employment, clothing and medical care of recently freed slaves, an organization in which she became involved as a result of her friendship with her dressmaker, former slave Elizabeth Keckley.

Tragedy and Loss
Mary Todd Lincoln’s life in the White House was marked by controversy and tragedy. As a well-bred woman of Kentucky, she was reviled by Southerners as a turncoat, while Northerners doubted her loyalty. Several of her siblings supported the Confederacy through marriage or military service. Not surprisingly, the divided loyalties within the Todd family fueled much controversy in the nation’s press.

Mary’s brother George R.C. Todd and her half-brothers Alexander Todd, David Todd, and Samuel Todd all fought in the Confederate Army. Two of her stepbrothers were killed in battle: Alexander at Baton Rouge Samuel at the Battle of Shiloh. Of one of her stepbrothers, she said, “He made his choice long ago. He decided against my husband, through him against me. He has been fighting against us and since he chose to be our deadly enemy, I see no special reason why I should bitterly mourn his death.”

Yet when her brother-in-law Brigadier General Benjamin Hardin Helm was killed fighting for the Confederacy in the Battle of Chickamauga, the Lincolns took in his widow, her stepsister Emilie Todd Helm, to live with them in the White House.

Mary Todd Lincoln suffered greatly in the White House. The pressures and anxieties of the war were unrelenting, and she watched her husband age visibly under the strain. In early 1862, when she lost eleven-year-old son Willie to typhoid fever, Mary was prostrate with grief. Mary sought out mediums and spiritualists to contact the dead boy, but they only bilked her out of another small fortune the Lincolns could not afford.

Mary Todd Lincoln suffered from frequent severe headaches throughout her adult life, and difficult bouts of depression, anxiety and paranoia. In a July 1863 accident, she was seriously injured when she was thrown from her carriage, knocked unconscious, and received a deep gash on her forehead. Even as she recovered from the carriage wreck, her other ailments became nearly as well-known as her name.

Mary also made irrational outbursts during Lincoln’s presidency. For example, after an uncomfortable carriage ride to review the troops at City Point, Virginia, during which she was accompanied by Julia Dent Grant (whom Mary did not like), wife of General Ulysses S. Grant, Mary Lincoln unleashed her pent-up fury on her husband when he rode on horseback alongside the lovely wife of a general.

Such scenes were not infrequent in Mary Lincoln’s life, and Abraham Lincoln’s secretaries nicknamed her the Hellcat. Even in childhood, friends had observed that she was either “in the garret or in the cellar,” emotionally. Such patterns indicate that Mary Lincoln may have suffered from bipolar disorder. Her mental illness worsened after her husband’s assassination, when she disintegrated into inconsolable, pathological grief and went on manic shopping sprees, which partially accounts for her unpopularity with many people.

The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
On April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant, and the war was officially over. Mary Lincoln hoped to renew her happiness as the First Lady of a nation at peace. However, on April 14, 1865, President and Mrs. Lincoln went to watch the comic play Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater. As they sat in theater box, her hand in his, John Wilkes Booth shot the president in the head at near point blank range. Mary accompanied her husband across the street to the Petersen House, where Lincoln’s Cabinet was summoned. Mary was with her husband through the night along with her son Robert. Abraham Lincoln died at 7:22 the following morning.

Image: Lincoln Home in Springfield, Illinois
Bettina Woolbright, Artist

This Greek Revival style house at the corner of Eighth and Jackson Streets in Springfield, Illinois, was home to the Lincoln family from 1844 to 1861. The initial structure was built in 1839 as a five-room cottage. Mary was largely responsible for expanding the house to the size depicted here to better accommodate her growing family. The house, purchased by Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, was the first and only home Lincoln ever owned.

From all over the world, Mary Lincoln received messages of condolence. In time she would attempt to answer many of them personally. Even in her misery, her sense of duty and politeness remained. To Queen Victoria she wrote: “I have received the letter which Your Majesty has had the kindness to write. I am deeply grateful for this expression of tender sympathy, coming as they do, from a heart which from its own sorrow, can appreciate the intense grief I now endure.” Victoria had suffered the loss of Prince Albert.

Deeply traumatized by her husband’s murder, Mary Lincoln remained mostly bedridden in the White House for the next five weeks. She did not attend any of the president’s funerals, either in Washington, along the route of the funeral train, or the final one on May 4, 1865, in Springfield. Finally on May 23, Mary walked down the White House stairs for the last time, accompanied by her two sons and Elizabeth Keckley.

The former First Lady returned to Illinois and there began the effort to settle her husband’s estate. For a time, she lived in Chicago with her remaining sons, Robert and Tad. Embroiled in controversy over her finances and allegations of insanity, Mary wrote impassioned letters to friends and acquaintances, begging for money to pay her debts. She tried to sell the clothes she had worn while First Lady, and continued buying fancy jewelry clothing, though for years she never wore anything but black in public.

After Robert Lincoln married in September 1868, Mary and Tad moved to Germany, and from there began her battle with Congress about her presidential widow’s pension.

Also in 1868, her former dressmaker and confidante, Elizabeth Keckley, published Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House. Although this book has, over time, proven to be an extremely valuable resource in the understanding and appreciation of Mary Todd Lincoln, the former First Lady regarded it as the breach of a close friendship.

In an act approved July 14, 1870, the United States Congress granted Mary Tod Lincoln a life pension as a president’s widow, in the amount of $3000 a year. She had lobbied hard for this pension, writing numerous letters to Congress and relying on patrons such as Simon Cameron to work on her behalf. Almost crazed on the subject of money, she insisted that as the wife of the leading figure in the land, she deserved a pension just as much as the widows of soldiers.

In 1871, Mary returned to the United States. Eighteen-year-old Tad caught a cold on the trip back and never fully recovered from a respiratory infection. On July 15, 1871, he died of pneumonia and pleurisy in Chicago. Mary had now lost her mother, father, husband, three half-brothers and three sons. “One by one,” she said, “I have consigned to their resting place my idolized ones, and now, in this world there is nothing left for me but the deepest anguish and desolation.”

Mental Instability
After Tad’s sudden death, Mary’s mental health deteriorated rapidly. Increasingly dependent on medications such as laudanum and chloral hydrate for a variety of physical and emotional ailments, she had delusions, hallucinations and irrational fears of people trying to kill her. Her only living son, Robert, on his way to becoming a prominent attorney, became concerned for her health and safety.

Robert arranged an insanity trial after agonizing over his distressed mother’s erratic behavior. Illinois law required a jury trial for involuntary commitment to a mental institution. In a June 1, 1875, letter to Mary’s friend Sally Orne, Robert explained his difficult decision. “Six physicians in council informed me that by longer delay I was making myself morally responsible for some very probable tragedy, which might occur at any moment.”

Mary did not realize that a public trial awaited her, and was forcibly taken to the courthouse on May 19, 1875. Isaac Arnold, a family friend who reluctantly became her defense attorney, did not contest the case, and allowed 17 witnesses to testify to her unstable condition, while not calling any witnesses of his own. During the trial, Robert testified, “I have no doubt my mother is insane. She has long been a source of great anxiety to me.”

On May 20, 1875, Mary Todd Lincoln was declared insane at the age of 56, and confined to Bellevue Place, a private sanitarium in Batavia, Illinois. This news shocked the nation. The trial’s verdict required Mary to be committed, but allowed her to stay in a private hospital such as Bellevue if finances allowed it. She also could have stayed in Robert’s home, but her tumultuous presence there four years earlier had caused Robert’s wife to leave temporarily.

Dr. Norbert Hirschhorn and Dr. Robert G. Feldman maintain that, “Symptoms imputed as insanity at her trial clearly had their origin in the organic disease of tabes dorsalis. The bizarre behavior in 1875 leading to hospitalization, with elements of acute anxiety, insomnia and delusions, most resembles post-traumatic stress disorder, coinciding with the tenth anniversary of her husband’s murder.”

Later in the day after the verdict was announced, Mary was so enraged that she attempted suicide. She went to the hotel pharmacist and ordered enough laudanum to kill herself. However, the pharmacist was suspicious and gave her a placebo.

With control of his mother’s finances, Robert Lincoln tried to pay down his mother’s debts, and returned much of the jewelry she had purchased but never paid for.

Meanwhile, Mary smuggled letters to her lawyer, James Bradwell, and his wife, Myra Bradwell, who was not only her friend but also a feminist lawyer and fellow spiritualist. Bradwell believed Mrs. Lincoln was not insane, and filed an appeal on Mary’s behalf.

Mary wrote to the editor of the Chicago Times, known for its sensational journalism. Soon, the public embarrassments Robert had hoped to avoid were looming, and his character and motives were in question. The director of Bellevue, who at Mary’s trial had assured the jury she would benefit from treatment at his facility, now in the face of potentially damaging publicity, declared her well enough to leave.

The former First Lady left Bellevue Place on September 11, 1875, and was released to the care of her sister Elizabeth in Springfield, to live in the same house where she had married Abraham Lincoln. On June 19, 1876, another court ruled that Mary had regained her sanity, and and was competent to manage her own affairs.

Mary traveled to Europe again, staying primarily in France at health spas. The former First Lady’s final years were marked by declining health, possibly with undiagnosed diabetes, spinal arthritis and other ailments. She suffered from severe cataracts that affected her eyesight, which may have contributed to her increasing susceptibility to falls. In 1879, she suffered spinal cord injuries in a fall from a step ladder.

After four years abroad, Mary returned the United States to live again in the Edwards home in October 1880. She spent much of her last year in seclusion there. The following year, Robert visited with his eldest daughter, Mary Todd Lincoln, and Mary and Robert reconciled somewhat. Mary’s pension was increased to $5000 in 1882.

Mary Todd Lincoln died on July 16, 1882, at the age of 63, possibly after having a stroke, although the doctor wrote “paralysis” on the death certificate. She was buried next to her husband and three sons at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield. She was buried with her wedding ring, thin from wear, which still bore the words “Love Is Eternal.”

Dedicated in 1874, the Lincoln Tomb in Springfield, Illinois, is the final resting place of Abraham Lincoln, his wife Mary, and three of their four sons, Edward, William, and Thomas. The eldest son, Robert Lincoln, is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. The 117-foot Tomb, designed by sculptor Larkin Mead, is constructed of brick sheathed with Quincy granite. Interior rooms of the Tomb are finished in a highly polished marble trimmed with bronze.


Mary Todd Lincoln

Today it is a pleasure to welcome Author Susan Higginbotham to History … the Interesting Bits with a wonderful article about the correspondence between Mary Lincoln and Queen Victoria.

The First Lady and the Queen

Mary Lincoln in widow’s weeds

Of the black-draped widows of the nineteenth century, surely two of the best known are Queen Victoria, who gave her name to the age, and Mary Lincoln, wife to the martyred American President. Bereaved just a few years apart, they would spend the rest of their lives in mourning.

Queen Victoria’s consort, Albert, died on December 14, 1861, at Windsor Palace. In due time, a formal letter of condolence arrived from the United States, signed by Abraham Lincoln, assuring the queen, “The American People . . . deplore his death and sympathize in Your Majesty’s irreparable bereavement with an unaffected sorrow. This condolence may not be altogether ineffectual, since we are sure it emanates from only virtuous motives and natural affection. I do not dwell upon it, however, because I know that the Divine hand that has wounded, is the only one that can heal.”

Mary Lincoln acknowledged the royal loss in her own way. On February 5, 1862, the Lincolns, at Mary’s suggestion, held a magnificent reception at the White House. los New York Herald reported the next day, “Mrs. Lincoln received the company with gracious courtesy. She was dressed in a magnificent white satin robe, with a black flounce half a yard wide, looped with black and white bows, a low corsage trimmed with black lace, and a bouquet of crepe myrtle on her bosom. Her head-dress was a wreath of black and white flowers, with a bunch of crepe myrtle on the right side. The only ornaments were a necklace, earrings, brooch and bracelets, of pearl. The dress was simple and elegant. The half mourning style was assumed in respect to Queen Victoria . . . whose representative was one of the most distinguished among the guests on this occasion.”

Not all of the press shared the Herald‘s enthusiasm. The country had settled into what would prove to be years of civil war, and the extravagant reception struck some as being in poor taste. los Pittsburgh Gazette of February 8, 1862, titling its short piece “Our Court Gone Into Mourning!” quoted the excerpt above, and then commented succinctly, “Don’t larf.”

Sadly, Mary would soon be wearing full mourning, and not as a courtesy for a distant queen. Her son Willie had fallen ill, and Mary had spent much of the reception going to and from his bedside. Though the prognosis initially appeared hopeful, Willie’s condition soon deteriorated, and he died on February 20, 1862. Mary could not bear to attend his funeral.

Unlike Queen Victoria, who put her entire court into mourning for Albert, Mary had only herself to attend to. (Unlike women, who when grieving for their closest relatives were expected to muffle themselves in deep, lusterless black if their means permitted it, men could get by simply with a black band around a sleeve or a hat–or with no mourning apparel at all.) Still, there was a fashion aspect to mourning, to which entire establishments catered, and Mary did not permit her terrible grief to prevent her from giving precise instructions to Ruth Harris, the hapless milliner who had the task of putting together a bonnet. “I want a very very fine black straw for myself–trimmed with folds of jet fine blk crape,” she instructed on May 17, 1862. Alas, the bonnet did not quite suit, so later that month, Mary explained, “I wished a much finer blk straw bonnet for mourning–without the gloss.”

By April 1865, however, Mary was wearing garments in an array of colors and looking forward to a brighter future. The war was all but won, and although President Lincoln had just begun his second term of office, he was looking forward to doing some traveling once he returned to private life. He hoped to visit Europe, as did Mary.

Abraham Lincoln, of course, never realized this dream, but was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865, and died the next morning.

First page of the letter from Queen Victoria to Mary Lincoln

Several weeks later, Mary, who remained at the White House for over a month after her husband’s death, received the following black-bordered letter:

Though a stranger to you I cannot remain silent when so terrible a calamity has fallen upon you & your country, & must personally express my deep &erio heartfelt sympathy with you under the shocking circumstances of your present dreadful misfortune.

No one can better appreciate than I can, who am myself utterly broken-hearted by the loss of my own beloved Husband, who was the Light of my Life, — my Stay — my All, — what your own sufferings must be and I earnestly pray that you may be supported by Him to whom alone the sorely stricken can look for comfort, in this hour of heavy affliction.


Born in to a wealthy, political family on December 13, 1818, Mary Todd Lincoln was sophisticated, educated, and versed in politics. On the surface, her success in the White House seemed assured. Yet, few women in American history have endured as much tragedy and controversy.

Mary was the daughter of a prominent Lexington native Robert Smith Todd and his first wife Eliza Parker, who died when Mary was six years old. Mary was the fourth of the eventual sixteen children born in her father’s two marriages. A businessman and politician, Robert provided his children with social standing, education, and material advantages that Mary's future husband, Abraham Lincoln, lacked in his own youth.

Lexington, known as the “Athens of the West” at the time, had numerous educational opportunities for affluent citizens, and Mary completed her extensive education under the tutelage of French immigrant Charlotte Mentelle. At the Todd's large home, maintained by enslaved men and women, Mary mingled with influential political guests. The most prominent of these was three-time presidential candidate Senator Henry Clay, who lived less than two miles away.

A mutual interest in politics was one of the things that drew Mary to attorney Abraham Lincoln, whom she met while visiting an older sister in Springfield, Illinois. Mary exchanged her life of relative ease and privilege for that of a middle-class wife when she married Lincoln in 1842.

Mary’s primary roles from 1842-1860 were wife, household manager, and mother to four sons. Additionally, she actively supported Abraham Lincoln’s political career, offering advice and hosting events. When Lincoln learned that he had had won the presidential election of 1860, he reportedly ran home yelling "Mary, Mary, we are elected."

She took on the role of first lady-from hosting balls to visiting troops-with enthusiasm. However, controversy and tragedy marked Mary Todd Lincoln’s life in the White House. Some mistakenly viewed her as a rustic from the “West." Others questioned her loyalties because of her family connections. While six Todd siblings supported the Union, eight Todd siblings supported the Confederacy through marriage or military service. Not surprisingly, divided loyalties in the Todd family fueled much controversy in the nation’s press.

The White House years were difficult for Mary Lincoln. The pressures and anxieties of the Civil War were unrelenting. Mary watched her husband age under the strain. In early 1862, when their eleven-year-old son Willie died from typhoid fever, Mary was grief-stricken. He was the second of three Lincoln children who would die before adulthood. The heaviest blow fell on April 14, 1865, with Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.

Mary survived her husband by seventeen years. During these years, she traveled internationally, fought for a widow’s pension, explored the practice of spiritualism, and continued to raise her youngest son Tad. Sadly, Tad died shortly after his eighteenth birthday in 1871. Four years later, at the instigation of her only surviving child Robert, Mary was confined against her will for several months at an asylum in Batavia, Illinois. Mary Lincoln’s mental health continues to be debated by historians and is frequently the subject of pop culture references to the former first lady.

Mary Lincoln lived independently in Europe for several years following her controversial institutionalization. Illness forced her to return to the United States, where she died July 1882 in the home of her sister Elizabeth, in which she married Lincoln almost forty years before. Her remains are entombed, along with her husband’s, in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois.


Mary Lincoln

As a girlhood companion remembered her, Mary Todd was vivacious and impulsive, with an interesting personality—but “she now and then could not restrain a witty, sarcastic speech that cut deeper than she intended . . . " A young lawyer summed her up in 1840: “the very creature of excitement.” All of these attributes marked her life, bringing her both happiness and tragedy.

She was born on December 13, 1818, to Eliza Parker and Robert Smith Todd, pioneer settlers of Kentucky. Mary lost her mother before the age of seven. Her father remarried and Mary remembered her childhood as “desolate” although she belonged to the aristocracy of Lexington, with high-spirited social life and a sound private education.

When she was nearly 21, she went to Springfield, Illinois, to live with her sister Elizabeth Todd Edwards. Here she met Abraham Lincoln—in his own words, “a poor nobody then.” Three years later, after a stormy courtship and broken engagement, they were married. Though opposites in background and temperament, they were united by an enduring love and Mary’s confidence in her husband’s ability and his gentle consideration of her excitable ways.

Their years in Springfield brought hard work, a family of boys, and reduced circumstances to the pleasure-loving girl who had never felt responsibility before. Lincoln’s single term in Congress (1847–49), gave Mary and the boys a winter in Washington, but scant opportunity for social life. Finally, her unwavering faith in her husband won ample justification with his election as president in 1860.

Though her position fulfilled her high social ambitions, Mrs. Lincoln’s years in the White House mingled misery with triumph. She spent exorbitant amounts money on dresses and furnishings, stirring resentful comment from a nation at war. While the Civil War dragged on, Southerners scorned her as a traitor to her birth, and citizens loyal to the Union suspected her of treason. When she entertained, critics accused her of unpatriotic extravagance. When, utterly distraught, she curtailed her entertaining after her son Willie’s death in 1862, they accused her of shirking her social duties. Yet Lincoln, watching her put her guests at ease during a White House reception, appreciated her fulfillment of White House duties.

Her husband’s assassination in 1865 shattered Mary Todd Lincoln. The next 17 years held nothing but sorrow. With her son “Tad” she traveled abroad in search of health, tortured by distorted ideas of her financial situation while critics skewered her in the press. After Tad died in 1871, she slipped into a world of illusion where poverty and murder pursued her.

A misunderstood and tragic figure, she passed away on July 16, 1882 at her sister’s home in Springfield—the same house from which she had walked as the bride of Abraham Lincoln, 40 years before.


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