Mary Lincoln's Strawberry Dress - Authentic with video explaination

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Belle Montgomery

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@Belle Montgomery, I love these kind of threads! Thanks for sharing this!!!
You're welcome! I only wish more authentic dresses were saved and had videos made about them from that era. Not everyone can make it to the different museums they display them in.
I know @JPK Huson 1863 likes Mary Todd details too.
 
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Great video! It must be pure fun to work in a library and museum like that (although not necessarily a Lincoln-centered one for me personally :D).
How interesting that Mr. Cornelius pointed out that after the outbreak of the Civil War Lincoln wanted Mary to live as if the rebellion was not happening! Why would that have been? Was he really underestimating what was happening, or was it a kind of whistling in the dark, a forced boost of morale? He must have known that as a Southern born woman, Mary's heart would be torn between both sides - I find it pretty cruel to ask of her to pretend that everything was normal... So maybe she was not quite as happy wearing that dress as Mr. Cornelius stated when he said it was made for her in one of the happiest times of her life...
 

Mrs. V

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Great video! It must be pure fun to work in a library and museum like that (although not necessarily a Lincoln-centered one for me personally :D).
How interesting that Mr. Cornelius pointed out that after the outbreak of the Civil War Lincoln wanted Mary to live as if the rebellion was not happening! Why would that have been? Was he really underestimating what was happening, or was it a kind of whistling in the dark, a forced boost of morale? He must have known that as a Southern born woman, Mary's heart would be torn between both sides - I find it pretty cruel to ask of her to pretend that everything was normal... So maybe she was not quite as happy wearing that dress as Mr. Cornelius stated when he said it was made for her in one of the happiest times of her life...
I suspect it was asked of her in order to make it seem like the President and others had more control over the conflict than they did. You know, “Act normal, this will all blow over in a few months, mustnt be seen to panic”. Rather than cruelty on Mr. Lincolns part.
 
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Belle Montgomery

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I suspect it was asked of her in order to make it seem like the President and others had more control over the conflict than they did. You know, “Act normal, this will all blow over in a few months, mustnt be seen to panic”. Rather than cruelty on Mr. Lincolns part.
That's basically what everyone thought at first..."it'll be over in a few months" So sad.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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Missed this thread, too! Good thing I was browsing for Mary Todd threads to remember her worst April ever. What a wonderful find, thank you! It's crazy seeing the dress she's wearing in one of the photos we've been familiar with for years.

That lace ( is it a fichu? ) she wore with ball gowns must have been a favorite with her. From happier days.

mary ball dress close up.jpg


Mary ball dress w fichu.jpg


Pattern here, too.

mary dress flowers.jpg
 

JPK Huson 1863

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ps, So sorry I missed this @Belle Montgomery . Yes, I'm extremely interested in Mary Todd, poor thing. I'm not sure we have another example in our history of anyone so continuously vilified we're still at it today. There's been a shift but the old myths stubbornly persist. Her dresses for instance and how she had to be bailed out when the bills were staggering. Yes, she did but had been courted as a famous customer and was given to believe her wearing of them was part of an era, common practice. Designers ( Keckley aside ) would ask society women in the public eye to wear their work, who doesn't look at the President's wife- she'd been told the dresses and apparel received were part of this practice, no charge, cost made up in advertising.

She's always seemed to me a tragic example where the whole war was reflected in her life. Born Southern, raised in a high profile, aristocratic family she married the enemiest enemy of them all. Rejected by Southerners for marrying him, considered a Southerner hence suspect by Northern society, she had no one. And as newspapers pointed out at the time, easier to attack and shove around a female than get to her husband.
 
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Belle Montgomery

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ps, So sorry I missed this @Belle Montgomery . Yes, I'm extremely interested in Mary Todd, poor thing. I'm not sure we have another example in our history of anyone so continuously vilified we're still at it today. There's been a shift but the old myths stubbornly persist. Her dresses for instance and how she had to be bailed out when the bills were staggering. Yes, she did but had been courted as a famous customer and was given to believe her wearing of them was part of an era, common practice. Designers ( Keckley aside ) would ask society women in the public eye to wear their work, who doesn't look at the President's wife- she'd been told the dresses and apparel received were part of this practice, no charge, cost made up in advertising.

She's always seemed to me a tragic example where the whole war was reflected in her life. Born Southern, raised in a high profile, aristocratic family she married the enemiest enemy of them all. Rejected by Southerners for marrying him, considered a Southerner hence suspect by Northern society, she had no one. And as newspapers pointed out at the time, easier to attack and shove around a female than get to her husband.
I couldn't agree with you more! Plus all the tragedy she suffered losing her son...people were clueless how strong she was then and now. "But there before the grace of God go I"
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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Thanks. The strawberry dress video was interesting. I, too, think Mary Todd was and continues to be "vilified". She went through so much and instead of support received condemnation. Even from her son Robert.

I've seen that awful episode explained portraying Robert as some frazzled man doing the best he could and getting care for his poor crazy mother. Not at all convinced- seems to me he took terrific care of himself in distancing himself from her. She couldn't do a thing right or anything at all without it ending up in newspapers. The single gripe I've had with Lincoln is he never made an effort to stand up for her- Robert seems to have inherited that tendency.
 
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Why is it that the dress in the museum appears to be black, while in the photograph of Mary Todd Lincoln wearing it, it appears to be white? Did the fabric age and became darker?

I've seen that awful episode explained portraying Robert as some frazzled man doing the best he could and getting care for his poor crazy mother. Not at all convinced- seems to me he took terrific care of himself in distancing himself from her. She couldn't do a thing right or anything at all without it ending up in newspapers. The single gripe I've had with Lincoln is he never made an effort to stand up for her- Robert seems to have inherited that tendency.
Oh I don't know… she sure had a complicated personality. It's hard for us to judge, but the fact that her husband and her own son had their troubles with Mary makes me think they sure knew better than we ever will...
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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Why is it that the dress in the museum appears to be black, while in the photograph of Mary Todd Lincoln wearing it, it appears to be white? Did the fabric age and became darker?



Oh I don't know… she sure had a complicated personality. It's hard for us to judge, but the fact that her husband and her own son had their troubles with Mary makes me think they sure knew better than we ever will...

Show me someone who does not have a complicated personality and I'll show you someone who just died. We don't tend to have the whole world following us around with a pencil and an agenda or we'd look peculiar too. I have around a gajillion threads on Mary Todd Lincoln. I'm not being at all argumentative when I say the woman whose hand he was holding the moment Booth's bullet ended everything for the couple was someone he cherished. I've never heard much beyond Herndon and a witchy sister claiming otherwise- both were soundly rebutted during their eras. No one wants to hear it.

Robert should be dug up and slapped. That was his mother.
 
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That was his mother.
Yes she was! And therefore I think it could not have been an easy thing for him to put her in a lunatic asylum. Even if their connection maybe was not too close, having a parent in a lunatic asylum is not exactly something anyone would volunteer to! Robert sure knew it would scratch at his reputation as "good son" - yet even mothers can be too much of a burden to bear!
And we know that Abraham Lincoln himself feared that his wife might end up exactly there when she suffered from unending paroxysms of grief because of the death of her son Willie ... (at least is what Lizzy Keckley, who knew the Lincoln family pretty well, writes in her book*).

I think she was probably vilified more than she deserved in many ways, but when those closest to her saw that she was ... let's say "reacting differently" than other people in the same situation (be it in grief or jealousy or lack of self-control) we should not discard their views as pure maliciousness. They have known her in life, we do not.

*
"Mrs. Lincoln's grief was inconsolable. The pale face of her dead boy threw her into convulsions. Around him love's tendrils had been twined, and now that he was dressed for the tomb, it was like tearing the tendrils out of the heart by their roots. Willie, she often said, if spared by Providence, would be the hope and stay of her old age. But Providence had not spared him. The light faded from his eyes, and the death-dew had gathered on his brow.
In one of her paroxysms of grief the President kindly bent over his wife, took her by the arm, and gently led her to the window. With a stately, solemn gesture, he pointed to the lunatic asylum.
"Mother, do you see that large white building on the hill yonder? Try and control your grief, or it will drive you mad, and we may have to send you there."

https://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/keckley/keckley.html#keckley91
 
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