Restricted How do the two first laddies compare?

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Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Aug 25, 2012
Did the two first ladies have somethings in common or were they completely different? Although both came from slave owning families, was Mary Todd Lincoln a southerner, or for that matter was Varina a true southerner? I know Varina was educated in Philadelphia and had Northern relatives (her father was originally from New Jersey).

What about the fashion style, was one more in style than the other? Mary did seem to like nice things, but I am not sure if Varina did. Both women seemed to have had their share of tragedies with their children. I am not sure either Mary or Varina were real popular with every one in their respected Capitals.


Nov 19, 2018
Mary and Varina were born a few miles and one year apart from each other. Both grew to become well-educated and wed much older men who had been politicians over vehement parental objection. Each of them was a mother who outlived all but one child. Mary left one son behind, while Varina's oldest daughter survived her. Needless to say that they suffered a great deal from their husband's political ambition. Both faced harsh criticism and widespread suspicion due to her own position as First Lady. Mary was born and bred in KY as daughter of a filthy rich slaveholder, but had abolitionist leanings with bad meanings to white high-class socialite associates. She was even suspected as a Union spy during the War. Meanwhile, Varina's life as a new wife young enough to be Jeff Davis' child versus spouse who was mistress of his house is not one easily led by any newlywed lady. She died bitter and enraged at Davis' alleged wrong treatment long after the War ended.

Similarities go no farther, though. Mary was famous for her good taste in high-class fashion plates, while Varina's style of dress was far less discriminating and often dubbed as 'sloppy.' Nonetheless, Varina proved a survivor who made new lemonade from lemons that life threw at her from writing Pulitzer-prize winning literary works. Mary came to a far worse end in an insane asylum where she died of a mental condition known as broken heart syndrome by any competent physician today.