Abe Lincoln History

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- Mary Todd Lincoln
- Robert Todd Lincoln
- Tad Lincoln
- Willie Lincoln


Mary Todd Lincoln

Mary Todd Lincoln
Full Name: Mary Ann Todd Lincoln
December 13, 1818, Lexington, Kentucky
Died: July 16, 1882, Springfield, Illinois, United States
Nationality: American
Height: 5' 2" (1.57m)
Spouse: Abraham Lincoln (m. 1842-1865)
Parents: Elizabeth Parker, Robert Smith Todd
Children: Edward Baker Lincoln, Tad Lincoln, Robert Todd Lincoln, William Wallace Lincoln
  • Mary Todd Lincoln Fun Fact
  • Grew up in a slave holding family yet grew up to witness her husband Abraham Lincoln issue the Emancipation Proclamation 45 years later. A mother of of 4 sons, she witnessed the death of 3 of those 4 sons as well as her husbands assassination. Like Jacqueline Kennedy, Mary Todd Lincoln was at her husband's side when an assassin struck.
Everyone knows Abraham Lincoln, what about his wife? The 16th President of the United States was married to one of the most controversial women in American history, Mary Todd Lincoln. Mary Todd Lincoln is known in history as a high-strung and mercurial, at times she exercised poor judgment and often gave offense to those around her, but she is also remembered as well educated, intelligent, unusually assertive for a woman of her time, a helpmate to Lincoln’s political career, and a loving mother.

Mary Todd Lincoln was a privileged daughter of the proud clan that founded Lexington, Kentucky. Her father, Robert S. Todd, was the son of Levi Todd, one of the founders of Lexington and clerk of Lafayette County. She began her romance with Abe Lincoln when he was a raw Illinois attorney. Abe Lincoln had been a law partner of her cousin John Todd Stuart and was at present partners with another cousin, Stephen T. Logan. Lincoln was also a four-time member of the state legislature and a leader in the Whig Party of Illinois. Although they came from very different economic and social backgrounds, he and Mary shared a sense of humor, a love of politics, and a healthy dose of ambition.

Mary Todd Lincoln married Abraham Lincoln at the Edward's home on November 4, 1842. Neither wanted a big wedding, only around 30 relatives and friends where invited. Mary Todd Lincoln went on to have four children with Abraham Lincoln, all of them would be boys.
  • THE LINCOLNS' FIRST SON - Robert Lincoln
  • THE LINCOLNS' SECOND SON - Eddie Lincoln
  • THE LINCOLNS' THIRD SON - Willie Lincoln
When Abraham Lincoln became president First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln stepped into a tough role. to be First Lady during the Civil War would have escaped with her reputation intact; the times were simply too emotional, the fear and anger too intense to allow that to happen. Mary entered the White House with two strikes against her: she was a westerner, a woman outside the Washington ladies’ clique; and she was born in the South, so, hence, her loyalties were suspect and would be the subject of many rumors during her husband’s presidency.

As First Lady, Mary Todd Lincoln is know for making choices that often fueled attacks on her. A few examples include trusting a White House gardener who would leak a presidential speech before it was given, shopping expeditions to New York when she seemed to assume that many of the items pressed upon her by store owners were gifts—until the bills arrived in Washington. Maintenance of the White House had been minimal or nonexistent for several administrations, and Mary took it upon herself to replace the old wallpaper and broken furniture and generally refurbish the interior of the old building. At another time she might have been lauded, but in wartime many people viewed it as an unnecessary extravagance. Lincoln himself was shocked by how much she’d overspent her budget.

Following the president's assassination, she lived a nomadic, sorrowful, and sometimes bizarre life, mostly abroad. Seeing her husband shot as he sat beside her was not the final blow to Mary’s emotional stability, but it was the worst one. She remained in mourning the rest of her life, and occupied herself with writing to Congress for an increase in the pension they had granted her; no other presidential widow had ever been awarded a federal pension up to that point. On July 14, 1870 congress voted for Mary Todd Lincoln to receive an annual $3,000 pension by Congress.

Mary Todd Lincoln's later years where troubled. On May 20, 1875 Mary Todd Lincoln was forced to enter a mental institution in Batavia, Illinois on the charge of insanity. Her son Robert testified against her due to the fact he had carried a burden of guilt for not going to Ford’s Theater with his parents, where he might have acted to save his father’s life—was advised by his friends and by counselors that if he did nothing to protect his mother and something happened to her, it would be on his head. The jury found her deranged and recommended that she be placed in an asylum.

Mary Todd Lincoln spent approximately four months in the asylum. Some problems continued after her release. What led to the events at the trial? The list below is an attempt to explain at least some of the things that possibly contributed to Mary's mental instability and eventual institutionalization.
  • In 1862 Mary's favorite son, Willie, died in the White House. This led to a tormented period of mourning. According to Elizabeth Keckley, Mary's seamstress, her grief was so overbearing that Mr. Lincoln warned she would have to be sent to an asylum if she couldn't control it.
  • On July 2, 1863, Mary was involved in a carriage accident just outside Washington, D.C. She was thrown to the ground and hit her head hard on a rock. Although Mr. Lincoln seemed to minimize the incident, Robert Lincoln felt his mother never totally recovered from it.
  • As First Lady, Mary had displayed some irrationality concerning money. Because her husband was president, merchants seemed willing to give her an almost limitless credit. This led to extravagance.
  • Mary was sitting adjacent to her husband when he was assassinated at Ford's Theatre. She was holding Abraham's hand when John Wilkes Booth’s bullet struck the back of his head. Her grief was so profound she didn't leave the White House for over five weeks. Finally, on May 22, 1865, dressed in black, she boarded a private railroad car and traveled to Chicago.
  • Allegations by William H. Herndon, Abraham Lincoln's law partner, that Ann Rutledge was the martyred president's true love greatly unnerved the widow. Mary was convinced she was Abraham's one and only love. Professional historians are divided on the question of whether or not Abraham had a love affair with Ann Rutledge.
  • In 1867 Mary attempted to sell her old clothes through dealers in New York. The clothing didn't sell well. The incident was a major embarrassment and humiliation to Robert. To some in the press, her eccentricity bordered on lunacy.
Mary was released from Bellevue on September 10, 1875. She traveled to Springfield to live with Elizabeth Edwards, her sister. On June 15, 1876, a second jury concluded that Mrs. Lincoln was "restored to reason and capable to manage and control her estate." Robert was removed as her conservator. To the end, Mary never forgave him, although Robert visited her in May of 1881 (which possibly led to a partial reconciliation).

JULY 16, 1882
Dies at age 63 at her sister's home in Springfield. Buried on July 19 at the Lincoln Tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery.

Pictures of Mary Todd Lincoln

Madness of Mary Todd Lincoln Video

Jason Emerson, Independent Historian, speaks to an audience at Hedberg Public Library about his book The Madness of Mary Lincoln. Jason also discusses his book The Dark Days of Abraham Lincoln's Widow. This book is based on nearly two dozen manuscripts and letters written while she was incarceration in an insane asylum that were lost for 80 years. Taped April 21, 2011 by Mike Collins of JATV Media Services.

Mary Todd Lincoln Timeline

DECEMBER 13, 1818
Born in Lexington, Kentucky, the fourth child of Robert and Eliza Parker Todd.

JULY 5, 1825
Her mother dies following childbirth in Lexington.

NOVEMBER 1, 1826
Her father marries Elizabeth Humphreys in Frankfort, Kentucky; nine children are born to this union.

FEBRUARY 18, 1832
Her sister Elizabeth marries Ninian Edwards in Lexington and in 1834 moves to Springfield, Illinois.

MAY 1835
Visits Springfield relatives and witnesses a legal document.

MAY 21, 1839
Her sister Frances marries Dr. William S. Wallace at the Ninian Edwards home.

Moves to her sister Elizabeth's home in Springfield.

NOVEMBER 4, 1842
Marries Abraham Lincoln at her sister Elizabeth's home.

AUGUST 1, 1843
Gives birth to Robert Todd Lincoln in Springfield.

MARCH 10, 1846
Gives birth to Edward Baker Lincoln at home in Springfield.

JULY 17, 1849
Her father dies at age 58 in Lexington, Kentucky.

FEBRUARY 1, 1850
Her son Edward dies at age 3 years and 11 months in Springfield.

DECEMBER 21, 1850
Gives birth to William Wallace Lincoln at home in Springfield.

JANUARY 17, 1851
Her father-in-law, Thomas Lincoln, dies at age 73 in Coles County, Illinois.

APRIL 13, 1852
Joins the First Presbyterian Church in Springfield.

APRIL 4, 1853
Gives birth to Thomas (Tad) Lincoln at home in Springfield.

APRIL 4, 1855
Presents Tad for baptism at the First Presbyterian Church.

OCTOBER 15, 1858
Watches the last formal debate between her husband and Stephen A. Douglas in Alton, Illinois.

MAY 18, 1860
Her husband receives the Republican nomination for president; the next day they greet members of the notification committee in their home.

FEBRUARY 6, 1861
She and her husband hold a farewell reception; they depart for Washington on February 11.

MARCH 4, 1861
Attends her husband's first inauguration and inaugural ball in Washington.

FEBRUARY 20, 1862
Her 11-year-old son William dies in the White House; she does not attend his East Room funeral.

APRIL 7, 1862
Her Confederate half-brother, Samuel Briggs Todd, is mortally wounded at the battle of Shiloh.

JULY 2, 1863
Injured in a Washington carriage accident intended to harm President Lincoln.

AUGUST 19, 1862
Her Confederate half-brother, Alexander H. Todd, dies at the battle of Baton Rouge.

SEPTEMBER 24, 1863
Benjamin Helm, Confederate husband of her half-sister Emilie, is killed at the battle of Chickamauga.

JULY 11-12, 1864
Visits Ft. Stevens with her husband and witnesses sniper fire in a Confederate raid on Washington.

JULY 18, 1864
Her brother Levi Oldham Todd dies at age 46 in Lexington.

MARCH 4, 1865
Attends her husband's second inauguration in Washington, and the inaugural ball on March 6.

MARCH 23-APRIL 2; APRIL 5-9, 1865
Travels to/from City Point and Richmond, Virginia at the war's end.

APRIL 15, 1865
Her 56-year-old husband dies of an assassin's bullet in Washington; she does not attend his White House funeral on April 19.

MAY 4, 1865
The bodies of her husband and son Willie are placed in the receiving vault in Springfield; she remains in Washington.

MAY 22, 1865
Leaves Washington with sons Robert and Tad to live in Chicago, Illinois.

DECEMBER 21, 1865
Visits Springfield with Robert when the bodies of her husband and two sons are moved to a temporary cemetery vault.

MAY 23, 1867
Her brother-in-law, William S. Wallace, dies at age 64 in Springfield.

NOVEMBER 13, 1867
Inherits $36,991.54 at the settlement of her husband's estate.

SEPTEMBER 24, 1868
Attends the wedding of her son Robert to Mary Eunice Harlan in Washington, DC.

OCTOBER 1, 1868
Sails from Baltimore with her son Tad enroute Europe.

APRIL 12, 1869
Sarah Johnston Lincoln, her husband's stepmother, dies at age 80 in Coles County, Illinois.

OCTOBER 15, 1869
Becomes a grandmother when Mary (Mamie) Lincoln is born to Robert and Mary Lincoln.

JULY 14, 1870
Is voted an annual $3,000 pension by Congress.

MAY 11, 1871
Returns to the U.S. through New York City with her son Tad.

JULY 15, 1871
Tad dies at age 18 in Chicago; she does not attend his Springfield funeral on July 17.

JULY 30, 1871
Her notorious Confederate half-brother David dies at age 39.

AUGUST 14, 1873
Becomes a grandmother again when Abraham Lincoln II is born to Robert and Mary Lincoln.

FEBRUARY 16, 1874
Her Confederate stepmother Elizabeth Humphreys Todd dies at age 74 in Kentucky.

MAY 20, 1875
Forced to enter a mental institution in Batavia, Illinois, where she stays about four months; enters her sister's home in Springfield following her confinement.

JUNE 15, 1876
Allowed by the Cook County Court to regain control over her affairs.

NOVEMBER 6, 1875
Becomes a grandmother again when Jessie Harlan Lincoln is born to Robert and Mary Lincoln.

Sails for Europe, where she remains until October 16, 1880.

JULY 16, 1882
Dies at age 63 at her sister's home in Springfield. Buried on July 19 at the Lincoln Tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery.

Abe Lincoln History