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Mrs. Abraham Lincoln

A Study of Her Personality and Her Influence on Lincoln

W.A. Evans

Publication Year: 2010

Evans explains that few men grew “as much as Lincoln did between 1830 and 1865, or even as much as he did between 1840 and 1865,” and he suspected that Mary had much to do with this.  Evans set out to learn more about the woman, understand her, and discuss the influence she had upon her husband.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Copyright Page

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pp. iv


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pp. v

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xvii

Biographical studies of Abraham Lincoln began immediately after his assassination in April 1865; the life and influence of his wife, Mary Lincoln, was obscured and ignored until the early twentieth century. And still, more than eighty years after the first full biography about her was published, Mary Lincoln remains a misunderstood and maligned woman...

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pp. xix-xxii

WHEN ONE UNDERTAKES A STUDY OF THE LIFE OF A public man or woman, one can expect to find something of a printed record. If the study is based on the subject's connection with high lights of history, the sources of information are easily accessible. Nor is there a dearth of...

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pp. 1-28

SEVERAL YEARS AGO THE LATE DR. WILLIAM E. BARTON and I were discussing Abraham Lincoln, particularly the quality of his mind. The subject was intriguing, for Lincoln's mind presents more than one phase that is not understood. Many of his moods cannot be measured by ordinary standards...

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1. The Gifts of the Ancestors

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pp. 29-62

A HUMAN PERSONALITY IS A MOSAIC, THE PICTURE BElNG made by the combination of many stones. Some of these are contributed by heredity, the constitutions of ancestors - the experiences of their lives as well as their inheritances - being passed on to succeeding links of the chain of which they are a part...

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2. Childhood

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pp. 63-72

THERE IS NO DIRECT INFORMATION ABOUT MARY TODD'S life or her personality during the lifetime of her mother. There are the bare dates of births and deaths, and that is all. Neither Emilie Todd Helm nor her daughter gives any data other than these. William H. Townsend has...

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3. Youth Builds Her Up

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pp. 73-108

AFTER THE DEATH OF HIS WIFE IN THE SUMMER OF 1825, and until his remarriage in the autumn of the next year, Robert S. Todd managed his household as well as he could. He had help from his sister, Eliza (Mrs. Charles M. Carr), but that lady had her own children to...

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4. The Training of Maturity

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pp. 109-131

WHEN MARY TODD WENT TO HER SISTER'S HOME IN Springfield in 1837, she planned to enter society, and in the back of her head was the thought that she might marry and settle in Illinois. While there, she met several important people and went to many social...

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5. Rounding Out

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pp. 133-158

THIS DECADE BEGINS WITH MR. AND MRS. LINCOLN living quietly with their two children in their own home. At the start of it, she was a little over thirty-two years old; at the close she was more than forty-two. Lincoln was nine years and ten months her senior. In 185 I Robert was over...

Gallery of Illustrations

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6. The Peak and a Decline

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pp. 159-186

WHEN MRS. LINCOLN LEFT SPRINGFIELD FOR Washington she had gained everything in life that she had set out to accomplish. Matrimony had been the goal of her young womanhood, as was meet and proper; it was the goal of every girl she grew up with. She and they accepted that as true, gloried in it, and talked about it no small part...

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7. Taking Toll

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pp. 187-218

AFTER A PERIOD OF EMOTIONAL ILLNESS WHICH confined her to bed, and the length of which irked many people, Mrs. Lincoln left the White House, May 22, 1865, and went with her family to Chicago. There she lived rather obscurely, simply, and inexpensively for several years. She...

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8. Mending Her Fences

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pp. 219-230

THE NATURE OF MRS. LINCOLN'S IMMEDIATE REACTION to the tragic episode of her trial, the testimony she heard, and the verdict of the jury is indicated by the following extracts from the Chicago Tribune: 1 " During the absence of the jury, Robert T. Lincoln approached his mother and extended his hand. She grasped...

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9. Financial Security and Insecurity

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pp. 231-247

AS THE RESULT OF THE 1875 TRIAL OF MRS. LINCOLN the jury wrote into the verdict the following: 1 ". • • to show cause, if any she has or can show, why a conservator should not be appointed to manage and control her estate." Her son, Robert T. Lincoln, was appointed conservator, and shortly thereafter the estate was turned over to him...

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10. The Help and Harm of Politics

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pp. 249-259

POLITICS WERE THE LADDER ON WHICH MRS. LINCOLN climbed to the summit of her ambition, and they were one of the agencies that precipitated her downfall. Lincoln's politics, and the relation of his wife to them, are a theme worthy of more space than can be given here. The only aspects considered at any length are the effects on Mrs. Lincoln of certain political battles...

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11. Was Religion A Help?

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pp. 261-266

THE TODD FAMILY IN LEXINGTON WAS A RELIGIOUS household, but not puritanical or devoutly following church forms and exercises. Among the forbears of Betsy Humphreys Todd were ministers - some of them of the New England variety - but the home was not run as a New...

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12. The Influence of Society

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pp. 267-272

IN WRITING OF THE EFFECTS OF SOCIETY ON MRS. LINCOLN, I am referring to that which the society editor deals with, and not to the" society" of the sociologist. The possibility of being misunderstood has caused some society editors to seek to avoid trouble by calling the social group with which...

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13. The Physical Phases of Her Personality

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pp. 273-284

THE SOURCES OF INFORMATION ABOUT MRS. LINCOLN'S appearance - her facial lines and angles, expression, size, stature, shape, and posture, all combined to make what is called, colloquially, "looks" - are of two sorts: pictures of her, and written descriptions by a number of writers. The only pictures of Mary Todd prior to her marriage...

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14. Her Mental and Personality Qualities

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pp. 285-302

THERE IS NO POPULAR INTEREST IN MRS. LINCOLN'S intellectual ability. She wrote no books, and no state documents are attributed to her. She was not a professional woman, nor a leading light in anything. She was no Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria, Cleopatra, Madame...

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15. On the Rocks

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pp. 202-320

IT IS NEVER EASY TO SAY WHEN TWILIGHT ENDS AND NIGHT begins. For our purposes we class Mrs. Lincoln's mind as insane after 1865, and what follows in this chapter bears particularly on its disturbed qualities...

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16. Mutual Influence

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pp. 321-334

WHEN MARY TODD MET ABRAHAM LINCOLN SHE WAS over twenty years old, and he was over thirty. When they were married, she was nearly twenty-four years old, and he was well on towards thirty-four. In the interval of more than three years there was a period of about ...

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17. Health

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pp. 335-345

THERE IS NO INFORMATION ABOUT MARY TODD'S HEALTH prior to the time she met Lincoln. The story of her Lexington life indicates, in a general way, that she was in excellent health, well nourished, and bubbling over with vitality. She may have had her share of childhood infections, because...

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18. Justice

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pp. 347-352

WE, AS A PEOPLE, LIKE FAIR PLAY. WE BOAST OF OUR ability to give everybody a show in spite of prejudices - in spite of everything. Willingness to give the oppressed a chance to state their case and make their plea is a part of the Magna Charta - in fact, its very essence - and runs...


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pp. 353-364


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pp. bmi-bmxiii

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780809385607
E-ISBN-10: 0809385600
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809329717
Print-ISBN-10: 0809329719

Page Count: 448
Illustrations: 32 B/w halftones
Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Presidents' spouses -- United States -- Biography.
  • Lincoln, Mary Todd, 1818-1882.
  • Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 -- Marriage.
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