The Trials of Mrs. Lincoln

The Trials of Mrs. Lincoln

The Trials of Mrs. Lincoln

The Trials of Mrs. Lincoln

Synopsis

Mary Todd Lincoln (1818-82) was a politically ambitious, volatile, and sharp-tongued woman, a shopaholic, and an embarrassment to her son and to the powerful men who sought to control the Lincoln legacy for their own political supremacy. Slandered by former Lincoln cronies and Republican operatives, such as William Herndon, Ward Hill Lamon, and Thurlow Weed; disliked by her son's wife, the former Mary Harlan; plagued by debts, her pension grant having been denied by Congress; conspired against by her son, Robert, along with Supreme Court justice David Davis, Leonard Swett, John Todd Stuart, Isaac N. Arnold, and others, she had literally no one to turn to. This account of her final years, based on documentary evidence, sets the record straight and restores the reputation of one of the most maligned women in American political history.Samuel A Schreiner Jr., a veteran journalist and former senior editor at Reader's Digest, is the author of The Passionate Beechers: A Family Saga of Sanctity and Scandal That Changed America.

Excerpt

Altough its action took place more than a century ago and its characters were part of the most celebrated family in American history, this will be a story that really couldn’t be told until very recently. True, the bare facts of Mary Todd Lincoln’s so-called insanity trials were spread across the front pages of every newspaper in the country back in 1875 and 1876, but reporting then was sketchy and heavily editorialized. the court was not required to keep a verbatim transcript of such proceedings, and the Lincoln and Todd families were understandably reluctant to talk about an event so humiliating to them. It was, in fact, a general embarrassment so great that most people, including many Lincoln family biographers through the intervening years, have tried to gloss over it or ignore it entirely in an effort to preserve the aura surrounding the Great Emancipator.

The few researchers and writers who took a hard look at the case with a suspicion that the real truth never came out were stymied by a lack of fresh evidence on which to base new judgments. It was widely known that Robert Todd Lincoln, the only . . .

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