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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Edwards, Elizabeth Todd. 'Elizabeth Todd Edwards (William H. Herndon Interview)' in 'Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln' . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. [format: book], [genre: interview]. Permission: University of Illinois Press
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=herndon443.html


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332. Elizabeth Todd Edwards (William H. Herndon Interview).

[1865 — 66 [1]]

Mrs N W. Edwards

I am the wife of the Hon N. W. Edwards.: Mr Lincoln married my Sister — Mary. We Came to Springfield about 1835 — My sister Mrs Wallace now Came to live with us about that time. Doct Wallace & her were married in 18___ [2] We had a vacancy in our family by that marriage — wrote to Mary to Come out and make our home her home: She had a Step Mother with whom she did not agree. Marry was born in 1818 — well Educated — taught at a private School in Lexington — Mrs __________ [3] Keeping it.

Mary Came to Illinois about 1838 — Mr Lincoln Commenced Seeing Mary about 1839 & 4 — the winter of 1839 & 40 — directly after Doct Wallace was married — Knew Mr L well — he was a cold Man — had no affection — was not Social — was abstracted — thoughtful. I Knew he was a great man long years Since — Knew he was a rising Man and nothing Else modifying this, desired Mary at first to Marry L. L. Could not hold a lengthy Conversation with a lady — was not sufficiently Educated & intelligent in the female line to do so — He was charmed with Mary's wit and fascinated with her quick sagacity — her will — her nature — and Culture — I have happened in the room where they were sitting often & often and Mary led the Conversation — Lincoln would listen & gaze on her as if drawn by some Superior power, irresistably So: he listened — never Scarcely Said a word. I did not in a little time think that Mr L. & Mary were Suitable to Each other & so Said to Mary. Mary was quick, lively, gay — frivalous it may be, Social and loved glitter Show & pomp & power. She was an Extremely Ambitious woman and in Ky often & often Contended that She was destined to be the wife of some future President — Said it in my presence in Springfield and Said it in Earnest. Mr Speed Came to See Miss Matilda Edwards — left & went to Ky — Miss Edwards Staying. Mr Lincoln loved Mary — he went Crazy in my own opinion — not because he loved Miss Edwards as Said, but because he wanted to marry and doubted his ability & Capacity to please and support a wife. Lincoln & Mary were Engaged — Every thing was ready & prepared for the marriage — Even to the Supper &c — . Mr L failed to meet his Engagement — Cause insanity. In his

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lunacy he declared he hated Mary and loved Miss Edwds. This is true, yet it was not his real feelings. A Crazy man hates those he loves when at himself — often — often is this the Case. The world had it that Mr L backed out. and this placed Mary in a peculiar Situation & to set herself right and to free Mr Lincoln's mind She wrote a letter to Mr L Stating that She would release him from his Engagements. Mr Edwards & myself after the first Crush of things told Mary & Lincoln that they had better not Ever marry — that their natures, mind — Education — raising &c were So different they Could not live happy as husband & wife — had better never think of the Subject again However all at once we heard that Mr L & Mary had Secret meetings at Mr S. Francis' — Editor of the Spfgd Journal. Mary Said the reason this was So — the Cause why it was — that the world — woman & man were uncertain & slippery and that it was best to keep the secret Courtship from all Eyes & Ears. Mrs Mrs L told Mr L that though She had released him in the letter Spoken of — yet She Said that She would hold the question an open one — that is that She had not Changed her mind, but felt as always. The whole of the year year the Crazy Spell Miss Edwards was at our house [4] — Say for a year. I asked Miss Edwards — Subsequently Mrs Strong if Mr Lincoln Ever Mentioned the subject of his love to her. Miss Edwards Said — "On my word he never mentioned Such a Subject to me: he never even Stooped to pay me a Compliment."

Mr Douglas used to come to see Mary — probably: it is quite likely that his intentions were true & Sincere. Mary was asked one day by some of her friends which She intended to have — "Him who has the best prospects of being President Said Miss Todd. The marriage of Mr L & Mary was quick & sudden — one or two hours notice.

Miss Edwards one dy was asked why she married such an old dried up husband — such a withered up old Buck: [5] She replied: "He had lots of houses [6] & gold" Mary was present at this question & answer and She then remarked — "Is that true — I would rather marry a good man — a man of mind — with a hope and bright prospects ahead for position — fame & power than to marry all the houses [Note] — gold & bones in the world." Mary Lincoln has had much to bear, though she don't bear it well: she has acted foolishly — unwisely and made the world hate her: She opened a private letter of mine after I left Washington & because in that letter my Daughter gave me her opinion of Mrs L She became Enraged at me. I tried to Explain — She would Send back my letters with insulting remarks. Mr Lincoln Shed tears when I left Washington — had been Solicited to Come to Washington by Mr & Mrs Lincoln. Mr Lincoln Said to me — Mrs Edwards — "do Stay with me — you have Such a power & control Such an

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influence over Mary — Come do Stay and Console me." This was sometime after Willies deathNote from page 8:

Once I took Mr L — to Calm his mind — to Cheer him — to inspire him, if you please, with hope & Confidence — to turn away his attention from business as well as grief — down to and through the rich Conservatory — hot house cold house &c. where the flowers are Kept & where the world is represented by flowers that Speak. and made the remark to Mr L. — "O — how beautiful this is — these roses — &c. are fine — these Exotics are grand." and to which Mr L. said — "I never was in here before: how Spring like it looks — I don't care for flowers — have no natural or Educated taste for Such things." I made him walk to the Park one day north of the White H. He hadn't been there for a year and Tad went with us: Tad locked the gate — hid the key — Mr L. told Tad to get the key. Tad laughed and L thought it Smart & Shrewd. I respect & love Mr Lincoln — think he was a great man — a good man & an honest one. He was a little ungrateful I think from the want of [illegible] [9]

Mr Lincoln was Kind & good to his domestic & other Servants: one day the girl threatened to leave unless She Could get $1.50 per week. Mrs L. Could rather would not give the Extra 25 c: the girl Said he would leave. Mrs L. Said Leave. Mr L heard the Conversation — didnt want the girl to leave — told his wife so — asked — begged her to pay the $1.50. Mrs L remained incorrigible Mr L slipt round to the backdoor and Said — Don't leave — Tell Mrs Lincoln you have Concluded to Stay at $1.25 and Ill pay the odd 25c to you. Mrs Lincoln overheard the Conversation and Said to the girl & Mr L — What are you doing — I heard Some Conversation — Couldn't understand it — I'm not going to be deceived — Miss you Can leave and as for you Mr L I'd be ashamed of myself."

Mr Lincoln's habits were like himself odd & wholy irregular. He loved nothing and ate mechanically. I have seen him Sit down at the table and never unless recalled to his Senses, would he think of food. He was a peculiar man

Mrs Lincoln insulted Seward one day. Mr Seward was the Power behind the Throne. Mrs L had heard of this often & often — One day She Said to Mr Seward. It is Said you are the Power behind the Throne — I'll Show you that Mr L is President yet.

Mr L and Mary Saw Each other in that parlor there. This house is about as it was, Excepting this Porch which has been added Since — Two Story brick — ceiling low — &c —

Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 3870 — 73; Huntington Library: LN2408, 2:220 — 26

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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Edwards, Elizabeth Todd. 'Elizabeth Todd Edwards (William H. Herndon Interview)' in 'Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln' . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. [format: book], [genre: interview]. Permission: University of Illinois Press
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=herndon443.html
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