Mary Todd Lincoln, 1818-1882

  • Mary-Todd-Lincoln-WWP

Woman Category: Politics & LeadersWoman Tags: First Lady, The Pioneering Women of the National Mall Neighborhood, and WDC Metro Area Women

  • HerStory

    American First Lady, the wife of Abraham Lincoln – the 16th President of the United States.

    Mary Ann Todd Lincoln was born in Lexington, Kentucky, as the fourth of seven children of a wealthy family, who had a big household and owned slaves. Mary was well educated, learned French, drama, and music. When she was 6 years old, her mother passed away, and her father remarried not long after. Mary and her stepmother didn’t get along, and at the age of 21, she moved to Springfield, IL, to live with her older sister. Her wit and outgoing attitude attracted several admirers, among them was Abraham Lincoln. Mary’s family did not approve the match since Lincoln was 9 years older than her, came from a poor background, and had little education, but they still got married.
    Mary supported her husband’s career as a lawyer and a politician, even when he was absent for months, and she had to take care of their four children by herself. She helped to promote his public life, hosting events, and giving strategic advice. During the Civil War, she remained a Unionist, though her family supported the south and several of her half-brothers served in the Confederate Army. Mary accompanied her husband on military visits to the battlefields, visited wounded soldiers and wrote letters for them to send to their families. Despite that, at the White House she had a bad reputation and considered outspoken and lavish spender.
    Mary was holding President Lincoln’s hand at the Ford’s Theatre when he was assassinated on April 14th, 1865. As a widow, she returned to Chicago to live with her children, while lobbying to get a pension from the Congress, claiming that she deserves one just as much as other soldiers’ widows.
    At the age of 53, she lost a third son (after two died in their childhood), and suffered from depression, mood swings, and paranoid thoughts, until her eldest son sent her to a mental institution, where she tried to commit suicide. After she was released from the hospital, Mary spent few years traveling throughout Europe, but when her health got worse, she returned to the US to live with her sister until she died at the age of 64.

    “Plant your feet and stand firm. The only question is where to put your feet”

    “Plant your feet and stand firm. The only question is where to put your feet”


    More Interesting Anecdotes:

    • Before Mary married Abraham Lincoln, she was courted by his political opponent Stephen A. Douglas.
    • Her childhood home in Lexington, Kentucky is now a museum.
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  • Mary Todd Lincoln - U.S. First Lady | Mini Bio | BIO

    Mary Todd Lincoln was born on December 13, 1818, in Lexington, Kentucky. She married politician and lawyer Abraham Lincoln on November 4, 1842. When the Civil War began, Mary's family supported the South, but she remained a fervent Unionist. After her husband's assassination, Mary fell into a deep depression and her surviving son, Robert Todd Lincoln, had her temporarily committed. She died in 1882. #Biography
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    Mary Todd Lincoln - U.S. First Lady | Mini Bio | BIO

  • Photographed by Mathew Brady in 1862. Presented at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. Photo credit - WWP team.