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December 18, 2022

Mary Todd Lincoln

December 13, 1818

Mary Todd LincolnMary Todd Lincoln—Born December 13, 1818 (Lexington, KY). Died July 16, 1882 (Springfield, IL)

White House Years: 1861-1865

  • Mary Todd Lincoln grew up in a slaveholding Kentucky family. She grew up in an affluent family and was well educated for a woman of her era. She spoke fluent French and studied literature, drama, and music.
  • She moved to Springfield, Illinois to live with a sister and was courted by both Abraham Lincoln and his political rival Stephen A. Douglas.
  • While in the White House, Mary Todd Lincoln was the subject of considerable criticism due to her extravagant spending habits for clothes and White House renovations.
  • Several of her relatives served in the Confederate Army and, she was accused of being a traitor to her southern heritage, and simultaneously accused of being a Confederate sympathizer by the North.
  • One of her best friends during the White House years was her dressmaker, Elizabeth Keckley, a former enslaved woman who made Mary aware of the plight of other freed slaves. Mary personally contributed funds to assist them.
  • The death of her son Willie and later her husband’s assassination left her heartbroken and subject to various maladies. She left the White House with little to support herself and her son, Tad Lincoln. Her eldest son, Robert, had her committed to a mental asylum from which she orchestrated her release via her family attorney.

Firsts:

  • Mary Todd Lincoln was the first presidential spouse to be referred to as “first lady” in the press. President James Buchanan’s niece, Harriet Lane, was also described that way by the media, but she was the official hostess and not a spouse.

Quotes:

  • I consider myself fortunate if at eleven o’clock, I once more find myself, in my pleasant room and very especially, if my tired and weary Husband is there, waiting in the lounge to receive me.

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2022-12-18 2022-12-18 America/Detroit Mary Todd Lincoln Mary Todd Lincoln—Born December 13, 1818 (Lexington, KY). Died July 16, 1882 (Springfield, IL) White House Years: 1861-1865 Mary Todd Lincoln grew up in a slaveholding Kentucky family. She grew up in an affluent family and was well educated for a woman of her era. She spoke fluent French and studied literature, drama, and music. She moved to Springfield, Illinois to live with a sister and was courted by both Abraham Lincoln and his political rival Stephen A. Douglas. While in the White House, Mary Todd Lincoln was the subject of considerable criticism due to her extravagant spending habits for clothes and White House renovations. Several of her relatives served in the Confederate Army and, she was accused of being a traitor to her southern heritage, and simultaneously accused of being a Confederate sympathizer by the North. One of her best friends during the White House years was her dressmaker, Elizabeth Keckley, a former enslaved woman who made Mary aware of the plight of other freed slaves. Mary personally contributed funds to assist them. The death of her son Willie and later her husband’s assassination left her heartbroken and subject to various maladies. She left the White House with little to support herself and her son, Tad Lincoln. Her eldest son, Robert, had her committed to a mental asylum from which she orchestrated her release via her family attorney. Firsts: Mary Todd Lincoln was the first presidential spouse to be referred to as “first lady” in the press. President James Buchanan’s niece, Harriet Lane, was also described that way by the media, but she was the official hostess and not a spouse. Quotes: “I consider myself fortunate if at eleven o’clock, I once more find myself, in my pleasant room and very especially, if my tired and weary Husband is there, waiting in the lounge to receive me. ----

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