Mary Todd met Abraham Lincoln at the age of 21 when she went from Kentucky to Springfield, Illinois to live with her sister. At that time, he was, in his own words, “a poor nobody”. Though opposites in background and temperament, their three-year often stormy relationship prevailed. She continued to have great faith in his abilities as a public figure and he admired her excitement and enthusiasm for life.
Mrs. Lincoln’s years in the White House mingled misery with triumph. As the Civil War dragged on, Southerners called her a traitor and those loyal to the Union suspected her of treason. If they entertained, she was accused of extravagent spending. When, after her son’s death, she curtailed entertaining, the critics said she was shirking her social duties. Gossip and private grief followed her.
President Lincoln’s assassination in 1865 shattered the country, and the life of Mrs. Lincoln. The next seventeen years held nothing but sorrow. Her health and her financial resources slipped away. Poverty and the murder of her husband pursued her. A tragic figure, she passed away in 1882 at the home of her sister, the same house from which she had walked as the bride of Abraham Lincoln, 40 years before.
With a glimpse from our past,
Lee Jackson, CFCS