Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Mary (Todd) Lincoln 1811 ~ 1882


Mary Todd Lincoln

Mary Todd Lincoln, the wife of the immortal Abraham Lincoln, was a Kentuckian, and a member of the distinguished family of Todds of Lexington.

At the age of twenty-one, on the 4th of November, 1832, she was married to Abraham Lincoln, who though a prominent lawyer of Springfield, Illinois, gave no evidence of the immortality which he was to achieve. Mr. Lincoln was elected to Congress four years subsequently and took his seat December, 1847. Mrs. Lincoln did not accompany Mr. Lincoln to Washington while he was a member of Congress. They had three sons, Robert T. Lincoln who still survives, and Willie and Thaddeus, the latter better known as "Tad."

When Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln came into the White House, war, grim-visage war, threatened our country. The excitement between the North and South was so intense that Mr. Lincoln came to Washington incognito, Mrs. Lincoln and the children and servants following by another route. Many were the forebodings as to what might be the fate of the President-elect before his inauguration. Mrs. Lincoln's temperament was such that she could not bear the excitement with the repose of a woman of less emotional nature. Of all the criticisms that have been made of Mrs. Lincoln, no one has been unkind enough to accuse her of disloyalty to her husband, or lack of appreciation of his exalted position to which she had been elevated through his election to the presidency, and it is to be regretted that a keener appreciation of the trials to which she was subjected was not then understood.

The political excitement and war's alarms were enough, but to these was added the great bereavement of President and Mrs. Lincoln by the death of their beloved second son, Willie, and it is recorded that the mother never afterward entered the room in which he died, or the Blue Room in which his body lay. Mrs. Lincoln's hospitality and generosity were well known, and it is a melancholy thought that just after the close of the Civil War, when they were enjoying the victories of Mr. Lincoln's second election that the tragedy of tragedies occurred and beyond question. Mrs. Lincoln never rallied from this unspeakable blow. As soon as she was able to leave, she departed from the White House and went to live with her sister at Springfield, Illinois, where her paroxysms of grief were so overwhelming that those nearest and dearest to her could do nothing to alleviate her sufferings. Her sorrow was greatly increased again by the death of her son "Tad." It was suggested that she travel in Europe for diversion and resignation by change of scene.

Congress, in 1870, voted her a pension of $3,000 a year. After her return to the United States in 1880, she again took up her residence with her sister, Mrs. Edwards, in Springfield, Illinois, but her mind was so unsettled that it was found necessary to place her in a private asylum. Congress increased her pension to $5,000 and added a gratuity of $1,500, so that she might be properly provided for. She paid little attention to anything, her mind seeming to be a blank as to what was going on about her, and on the night of the 15th of July, 1882, she was stricken with paralysis and died on the 16th, and her remains were deposited beside those of President Lincoln and her children in the Lincoln monument vault at Springfield, Illinois.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.


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