Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography

Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography

Language: English

Pages: 464

ISBN: 0393333035

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


"A complex and moving character study of a woman tragically out of step with her time and place."―Chicago Tribune

This definitive biography of Mary Todd Lincoln beautifully conveys her tumultuous life and times. A privileged daughter of the proud clan that founded Lexington, Kentucky, Mary fell into a stormy romance with the raw Illinois attorney Abraham Lincoln. For twenty-five years the Lincolns forged opposing temperaments into a tolerant, loving marriage. Even as the nation suffered secession and civil war, Mary experienced the tragedies of losing three of her four children and then her husband. An insanity trial orchestrated by her surviving son led to her confinement in an asylum. Mary Todd Lincoln is still often portrayed in one dimension, as the stereotype of the best-hated faults of all women. Here her life is restored for us whole. 9 pages of illustrations

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gloomy inactivity and virtual anonymity of the last two years, as well as a solution to her poverty. On the other hand, if mishandled, it could inflict the sort of public disgrace that in her White House years had mortified her. But she would take the chance, and so, for the first time since the graveyard fight, she had a cause. As a woman of fashion Mary Lincoln knew her sale must coincide with the fall season in New York when merchants like Alexander Stewart offered the latest from Paris. Then

Identity (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1958), pp. 13–71. 13. Wyatt-Brown, Southern Honor, p. 199. 14. Kentucky Gazette, September 14, 1833; January 5, 1837. 15. Sarah Preston to Sophinisba Breckinridge, January 27, 1824, Breckinridge Papers. 16. Helm, Mary, Wife of Lincoln, pp. 4, 22, 53; Elizabeth Norris to Emilie Helm, n.d., Randall Papers. 17. Wyatt-Brown, Southern Honor, pp. 134, 139, 224, 276–77; Robert Smith Todd to Betsey Todd, February 15, 1826, Illinois State Historical Society. 18.

she once wrote, “cannot feel comfortable away from home” she was never one of them.31 But she did not return to Washington for the second session of the Thirtieth Congress, though the house at Eighth and Jackson was still rented. Eddie was now sick; the trip was expensive, and the lameduck session was expected to end before General Zachary Taylor’s inauguration as President in early March. But with a case before the Supreme Court it was April before Lincoln returned to Springfield. In the

fortification in fame.40 In November 1854 Lincoln won a seat as a state assemblyman, but belatedly discovering that the Illinois Constitution made newly elected legislators ineligible for election to the United States Senate, he resigned. To his embarrassment, a Democrat won the special election for his replacement. The papers described his gaffe “as a family decision,” by which they meant that his wife had played a part, and Mary Lincoln may have demanded that he move beyond the position of

Baltimore and Ohio Station in Washington. “Abe”—his old Illinois friend Elihu Washburne, who had been lurking behind a post, laughed—“you can’t play that with me.”9 Robert led a chorus of “The Star-Spangled Banner” when the train, without the President, crossed the Mason-Dixon Line. As promised, Lincoln telegraphed his wife of his safe arrival, but like everyone else on board, Mary Lincoln was frightened when she encountered a mob of Baltimoreans, some of whom searched the railroad cars for the

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