Brev. Brig. Gen'l
- Feb 14, 2012
- Central Pennsylvania
In mourning 1863. That's a pain in her eyes. Two sons lost, one fairly recently when this was taken. How is it possible not to see her more clearly?
You know, there are historical figures deserving of reminiscent ire, mad men and ruthless women litter a past made remarkable by our ability to commit barbaric acts of mind boggling cruelty. They pretty much asked for their dark corner in History and it's sure difficult feeling anything save revulsion about them. With so many repulsive examples of warped and twisted nature to draw from, why, 137 years after her death, is Mary Todd Lincoln one of them?
" ....in keeping with the Copperhead press that hounded Lincoln and his wife until his death then double-fired on Mrs. Lincoln ". Henry Rankin, a good friend from Springfield writing in reply to an author's query. There are more, using this source as representative. Happy to provide others.
The most annoying piece of Mary Todd Lincoln bashing I've come across was a reactionary article where Mary " apologists " ( ??? ) were blamed on the evils of feminism. If it wasn't so silly it would have been hysterical. Then there's the learned, academic study about all her signs of mental illness. That one's replete with terminology you can't penetrate with radar, so dense is it in academic-ese. Beyond that there's a stubborn refusal on everyone's part to lain, old give up picking on shattered woman who's been dead for 137 years. Why? IMO, we're just too good at it. And it's fun when they're still dead, no one can put up a good defense.
We can, if anyone would take the time to pat the last shovel of dirt and plant a flower over the grave of the widow of a murdered man. Here's how. Read. Ascertain fact, understand both agenda and our inclination to find the sordid more tasty than perhaps bland circumstance have been ingredients in Mary Todd stew. Myth V. Bland Truth can allll be sourced, please ask. It's just too much information to put in one thread.
Myth: Mary Todd Lincoln was a home-spun ' nobody ', social climbing wannabe when hitting Washington, D.C. as the new first lady.
Bland Truth: The Todds were old school Southern aristocracy, Mary raised as a belle and a beautifully educated belle. It's also myth Southern women were raised to be helpless, fragile creatures given to fainting spells and with no more serious interests than gallant beaus. When Mary Todd hit D.C., an annoyingly uninformed group of ' ladies ' appointed a representative to instruct the new First Lady in the etiiquette expected in the ' first circles '. It didn't go down well. A Todd? Requiring lessons in etiquette? Neither side came away pleased with the other.
Myth: Mary Todd Lincoln was her husband's default wife, his first the long-lamented Rutledge for whom Abe cherished a lasting passion. Varina Davis still suffers from this ridiculous and intrusive
Bland, Boring Truth: Both Mary and Abraham had previous sweethearts or at least interests. Who did not? Mary's family put huge pressure on her not to marry this swear word of a penniless Yank. Both were strong personalities, of course there were the usual clashes but they had not, one thing to do with why they did not marry sooner.
From one post-war book on the couple. Based on interviews with those who knew them, intent was to refute Herndon's nonsense about the Lincolns. No one seems to have listened well.
Herndon's myth includes a lavish wedding. Witness speak of a cake baked by her sister and still warm, a borrowed dress and small, if hurried ceremony. Lincoln wanted to be married that day.
Myth: Mary Todd was a shop-a-holic, spending until our tax dollars bled then spending more. Insatiably avaricious, she supposedly spent gazillions of ' finery ' while men died on battlefields.
Bland Truth: In 2019 the practice is still around- wear this, it's gratis because you're in the public eye and it's terrific advertising. She'd been led to believe this was the case. Reading all the ' what happened ', at the time it's pretty darn clear the whole mess was turned into a political trebuchet with which to hurl flaming missiles into the Lincoln camp.
Myth: Mary Todd was a screaming, shrieking shrew who made her husband's life miserable.
Bland Truth: She had her hands full. During Lincoln's deep depressions it was she who kept it all together. Lincoln's well known period of dark depression was a hideous time for both of them. Unflaggingly supportive, the boys were raised, house run, business attended anyway.
Myth: Pretty much anything ex-law partner William Herndon had to say.
Bland Stuff: He became an early antagonist when he became a little too snirpy during a dance. She said so and it was on. Herndon is described as a wannabe himself, jealous of his old partner's rise to the Presidency and riding the usual bandwagon to his own fame ( notoriety ) on proverbial coat tails. An era McClure's did a kind of expose on William Herndon's animosity towards Mary inclusive of some awfully good investigative reporting. It's enlightening. No one seems to have paid much attention to it.
Myth: Robert Lincoln had her committed for own good. Because she was crazy.
Not Bland, Tragic Truth: Robert was a politician. What great publicity. This woman had buried three children, been hounded, vilified and slandered, wore her husband's brains on her lap, lost siblings in the war, more because she married the enemiest enemy of them all, lost her closest friend through yet more salacious writings and had her every move scrutinized. She'd also had a nasty concussion when thrown from her carriage in June, 1863. What's amazing is she wasn't crazy.
Like I said, happy to argue any of this into the ground, sourced. It's just, plain time we let go, already. Rest in the peace denied you here, dear lady.