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Biography of Mary Todd Lincoln


Mary Todd Lincoln

     Mary Ann Todd was born on December 13, 1818, in Lexington, Kentucky. Mary was one of 7 children born to Robert S. Todd and his wife, Eliza Parker Todd.
      In 1839 Mary moved to Springfield, Illinois, to live at the home of her older sister, Elizabeth Edwards. Mary, who stood about 5-2, was active and popular in Springfield's society.Lincoln won her heart, and the two were married in 1842. Abraham gave her a wedding ring engraved with the words "Love is Eternal."

       Over the next 11 years the couple had 4 children. They were Robert (1843-1926), Edward ("Eddie") 1846-1850, William ("Willie") 1850-1862, and Thomas ("Tad") 1853-1871.

       In 1846 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. At the end of the term, Abraham did not run for office again, and the family was back together again in Springfield in 1849. In February, 1861, the Lincolns headed for Washington, D.C. Abraham was inaugurated as the 16th President on March 4, 1861.

      Tad often accompanied her on these visits to see the soldiers .Additionally, Mary provided support for the Contraband Relief Association, which helped blacks who came to the North during the Civil War.
       She was opposed to slavery, and she strongly supported her husband's pro-Union policies. Mary caused controversy as First Lady; she made both friends and enemies while her husband was President.
          Abraham and Mary attended a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre. It was that night that John Wilkes Booth shot the President as Mary held his hand during the play.

            Her son Tad died in Chicago shortly after the two returned to the United States after staying in Europe for three years. Robert began to fear for his mother's well being, and he instigated an insanity hearing. Various witnesses testified to Mary's erratic behaviour and habits. A jury of 12 men declared Mary insane.

      In September of 1875 Mary went to Springfield to once again live with her sister's family. In 1876 a second jury found her sane. Later she travelled again to Europe and spent most of her time in France. Her health was in a state of decline, and she again visited health spas.

      Mary returned to the United States in 1880 and again went to the Edwards' home in Springfield to live. She was slowly going blind. Robert visited her in 1881. Mary stayed all by herself in her shaded room in the Edwards' house. Her health continued to deteriorate. On July 16, 1882, Mary passed away at the age of 63. The exact cause of death may have been a stroke. The doctor wrote "paralysis" on the death certificate.

       Mary was buried next to her husband in the Lincoln Tomb at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield.