Mary Todd Lincoln

Mary Todd Lincoln, 1818–82, wife of Abraham Lincoln, b. Lexington, Ky. Of a good Kentucky family, she was living with her sister, daughter-in-law of Gov. Ninian Edwards of Illinois, in Springfield, Ill., when she met and married (1842) Lincoln. Although they were very different in temperament and upbringing, their marriage was an affectionate one. The harsh portrayal of Mary Lincoln by William H. Herndon is certainly exaggerated. Of the four sons she bore (Robert Todd, Edward Baker, William Wallace, and Thomas or "Tad" ), only Robert Todd lived to manhood. The death of Willie in 1862 was a great sorrow to both Abraham and Mary Lincoln, and Tad's death in 1871 seems to have unsettled her mind (already affected by seeing her husband murdered at her side). She was adjudged insane (1875), but the decision was reversed a year later.

See her letters, ed. by J. G. Turner and L. L. Turner (1972); biographies by R. P. Randall (1953), C. Sandburg (new ed. 1972), I. Ross (1973), and C. Clinton (2009).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography
Jean H. Baker.
Norton, 1987
The Insanity File: The Case of Mary Todd Lincoln
Mark E. Neely Jr.; R. Gerald McMurtry.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1993
The Trials of Mrs. Lincoln
Samuel A. Schreiner Jr.
University of Nebraska Press, 2005
Mary Lincoln: Biography of a Marriage
Ruth Painter Randall.
Little, Brown and Company, 1953
The Madness of Mary Lincoln: Her Son Had Her Committed. She Said It Was So He Could Get His Hands on Her Money. Now, 130 Years after This Bitter and Controversial Drama, a Trove of Letters-Long Believed Destroyed-Sheds New Light on It
Emerson, Jason.
American Heritage, Vol. 57, No. 3, June-July 2006
Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House
Elizabeth Keckley.
University of North Carolina Press, 2011
Librarian’s tip: This book is by a dressmaker to and friend of Mary Todd Lincoln, and includes many details about Mary Todd Lincoln.
The True Story of Mary, Wife of Lincoln: Containing the Recollections of Mary Lincoln's Sister Emilie (Mrs. Ben Hardin Helm), Extracts from Her War-time Diary, Numerous Letters and Other Documents Now First Published by Her Niece, Katherine Helm
Katherine Helm.
Harper, 1928
Julia Butler Newberry and Mary Todd Lincoln: Two "Merry" Widows
Schroeter, Joan G.
Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Vol. 95, No. 3, Autumn 2002
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