Mary Todd Lincoln

Lincoln, Mary Todd, 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 Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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