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Mary Todd Lincoln

In 1842 Abraham Lincoln married Mary Todd, a native Kentuckian who had come to Springfield, Illinois to live with her sister. A member of a leading family, Mary quickly became a part of the thriving social circle that grew up around the new state capital. Mary became a shrewd source of political counsel for her husband, and fueled his ambition with her own. She gave birth to four children, two of whom died at young ages. During the Civil War Mary Lincoln gained attention for her profligate spending, but she also devoted herself to visiting wounded soldiers in hospitals and raising funds for their care. After President Lincoln's assassination in 1865, Mary's grief kept her in the public eye. In 1871 her son Tad died, and Mary Lincoln's behavior became increasingly erratic, leading her sole surviving son Robert Todd Lincoln commit her to an asylum in Batavia, Illinois. After a brief stay there, Mary returned to Springfield. She often traveled to Europe in the years before her death in 1882.

Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave who worked for Mary Todd Lincoln in the White House, wrote an autobiography entitled Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House, describing her relationship with the First Lady. This book is available on Lincoln/Net. Please click on the title to view the book.

©Copyright 2003 Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project