Our Mary, Mrs. Lincoln's Photographic Legacy

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JPK Huson 1863

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There do not exist an overwhelming number of photographs of Mary Todd Lincoln. Why? Do not know. You could guess based on several things. If you think about it, all those years as the wife of a successful attorney then President Lincoln's wife, well, there should be more. If vile legend were true there would be. ' Vile legend ' would be a giveaway I hold Mary Lincoln in great regard- with reason, ' vile legend ' being just that. Please no one take that for a challenge.
mtl1a.jpg

This is the photograph someone cropped to use in the " Lincoln wedding photo " nonsense
mtl1crop.jpg

I do love this of her, you can see what a man with Lincoln's sense of humor found to attract him so strongly. She'd been terribly hurt as a child, bewildered by loss,- still, described as a very bright, sometimes bubbly girl, extraordinarily loyal.
mtl2.jpg



My guess would be Mary Todd did not like having her photograph taken. Certainly, her lovely ball gowns are much in evidence, lucky us, in a scant handful we have from the Washington era. She is missing from all other photographs where one might expect to find her- the sitting, casual poses, the husband and wife poses, the mother and children or group dignitary shots where one occasionally finds the wife of highly placed officialdom. Because it was her dress maker's bill which caused so much shame and turmoil, these photographs are pointed to as proof of Mary's egotism and greed. No one notices perhaps, these are some of the only moments Mary Todd dared to be photographed. A true egotist leaves a legacy full of photographs, Dan Sickles I'm looking at you.
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She was shy. Her regular visits to the wounded in Washington hospitals were unknown. She forbid it. While the press made much of societal darlings making occasional, dutiful calls on soldiers at area hospitals Mary had soldiers she visited like proverbial clockwork in huge secrecy. Knowing she was watched for any, slight faux pas, criticized for a foot wrong Mary dreaded bringing publicity in her wake to the wounded. She just did. So it was a rare moment to herself when Just Mary Todd visited these men, now sadly lost to Time.

mtl5a.jpg
mtl5crop.jpg

You hear descriptions all about Mary's finery, what she wore, how finicky she could be. Little unfair- if you read descriptions of any, single female who attended the same social function described, the ' toilette' was identical.

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Not positive, this is a very early photo but looks a lot like an Elizabeth Keckley creation. I ' think ' quite a few Keckley dresses have not been positively identified? Her lines were so incredibly simple, much advanced from American mode ( in my opinion ), looked Parisian. When frills, froth, too many ruffles and bows adorned a dress you just knew it was not created by Elizabeth Keckley- like if Vera Wang was around in 1863.

mtl11.jpg

This may have been Elizabeth's. Mary again posing in a ball gown, only a handful of photos spanning all these years. We have a few photos of my grgrgrandmother from the era. Dressmakers fell over themselves to work for the President's wife. Many implied to her the work would be gratis, as was common, a public figure would wear the work of a company in return for mention. Bills arriving later did come as a shock. No one would listen to this.

mtl12.jpg
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Love her in this photograph. Mary thought Washington society would be welcoming to the new President's family. It was quite a blow, being met with hostility and ridicule by the various queens of society. Looked down on because she was Southern ( and flatly refused to give up her Southern family ) and thought a kind of hayseed ( which must have been deliberate as an insult- her family was a ' good ' one ), her reception really hurt Mary. Very, very lonely in a large city, thankfully had Elizabeth Keckley as a friend but only one friend. Crazy situation, must have been awful.
 
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1stMN

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A true egotist leaves a legacy full of photographs, Dan Sickles I'm looking at you.
My thoughts exactly hahaha. Mrs. Lincoln was shy and couple that with the political atmosphere in Washington/the country at the time of her husband's election...I don't blame her for being selective and low key, that is for sure.

Thank you for sharing these pictures! Fun to see almost a hint of a smile in a couple of the profile shots.
 
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LoriAnn

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If she felt targeted and was frequently criticized, I could see her shying away from photos. Why give nasty people more ammunition? (Though I'm a stubborn brat sometimes. I would have dolled up and posed anyway.)

It was quite a blow, being met with hostility and ridicule by the various queens of society.
Ugh. B*tchy, catty women. The worst.
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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She might have looked tough but she was incredibly vulnerable in so many ways.
Yes, agreed. I won't dignify the man who hounded her for the rest of her life, writing liable, slandering her in packed lecture halls-set himself up as a self-styled ' expert' on Mary Lincoln. No idea how. Never met her yet passed judgment on her marriage, character, children, lifestyle- everything and his book is still used as a reference 150 years later. Robert never took issue with him either- that was his mother. It is because of him some ' scholars ' state the Lincoln marriage was ' loveless'.

Washington society really had it in for her. Seccesionist Washington of course viewed her as a traitor, a Southern woman married to Lincoln, elitists at the same time accused Mary of being the same ' rail splitter' stock her husband was, which of course she wasn't, then accused her of being a traitor, too. When they lost a child she was accused of mourning too long. When Lincoln was murdered, not, one person showed up to help her move from the home she shared with her husband. She was felt to be in the way, the new family already having taken up residence.

I've always wondered about the photo of Mary and the 2 boys. It's supposed to be Preston Butler studios, 1860, Illinois. You don't see it everywhere? It's also not a very formal pose. I'm not saying it isn't genuine, just wonder what the story behind it might be and wonder if there were more shots the same day, wouldn't the photographer have taken more than one?

Have also given Mary a lot of credit, when the children were very young, her husband in a deep depression when at home. Otherwise he was working, not a lot of help with a young family. These are described as Lincoln's dark days, must have been awful for a young wife struggling with small children, too.

mtl17a.jpg


Is this her? It is listed ' Entered, by Act of Congress ', so it belongs to ' us '- somehow recognized as Mary Todd Lincoln. Maybe one of those good drawings which is supposed to come across as a photograph?

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mtl18.jpg

There's so much pain here, tough to look at
mtl18a.jpg
 
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War Horse

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There do not exist an overwhelming number of photographs of Mary Todd Lincoln. Why? Do not know. You could guess based on several things. If you think about it, all those years as the wife of a successful attorney then President Lincoln's wife, well, there should be more. If vile legend were true there would be. ' Vile legend ' would be a giveaway I hold Mary Lincoln in great regard- with reason, ' vile legend ' being just that. Please no one take that for a challenge.
View attachment 88384
This is the photograph someone cropped to use in the " Lincoln wedding photo " nonsense
View attachment 88385
I do love this of her, you can see what a man with Lincoln's sense of humor found to attract him so strongly. She'd been terribly hurt as a child, bewildered by loss,- still, described as a very bright, sometimes bubbly girl, extraordinarily loyal.
View attachment 88386


My guess would be Mary Todd did not like having her photograph taken. Certainly, her lovely ball gowns are much in evidence, lucky us, in a scant handful we have from the Washington era. She is missing from all other photographs where one might expect to find her- the sitting, casual poses, the husband and wife poses, the mother and children or group dignitary shots where one occasionally finds the wife of highly placed officialdom. Because it was her dress maker's bill which caused so much shame and turmoil, these photographs are pointed to as proof of Mary's egotism and greed. No one notices perhaps, these are some of the only moments Mary Todd dared to be photographed. A true egotist leaves a legacy full of photographs, Dan Sickles I'm looking at you.
View attachment 88387 View attachment 88388

She was shy. Her regular visits to the wounded in Washington hospitals were unknown. She forbid it. While the press made much of societal darlings making occasional, dutiful calls on soldiers at area hospitals Mary had soldiers she visited like proverbial clockwork in huge secrecy. Knowing she was watched for any, slight faux pas, criticized for a foot wrong Mary dreaded bringing publicity in her wake to the wounded. She just did. So it was a rare moment to herself when Just Mary Todd visited these men, now sadly lost to Time.

View attachment 88391 View attachment 88392
You hear descriptions all about Mary's finery, what she wore, how finicky she could be. Little unfair- if you read descriptions of any, single female who attended the same social function described, the ' toilette' was identical.

View attachment 88393

View attachment 88394 View attachment 88395

View attachment 88398
Not positive, this is a very early photo but looks a lot like an Elizabeth Keckley creation. I ' think ' quite a few Keckley dresses have not been positively identified? Her lines were so incredibly simple, much advanced from American mode ( in my opinion ), looked Parisian. When frills, froth, too many ruffles and bows adorned a dress you just knew it was not created by Elizabeth Keckley- like if Vera Wang was around in 1863.

View attachment 88400
This may have been Elizabeth's. Mary again posing in a ball gown, only a handful of photos spanning all these years. We have a few photos of my grgrgrandmother from the era. Dressmakers fell over themselves to work for the President's wife. Many implied to her the work would be gratis, as was common, a public figure would wear the work of a company in return for mention. Bills arriving later did come as a shock. No one would listen to this.

View attachment 88401 View attachment 88402
Love her in this photograph. Mary thought Washington society would be welcoming to the new President's family. It was quite a blow, being met with hostility and ridicule by the various queens of society. Looked down on because she was Southern ( and flatly refused to give up her Southern family ) and thought a kind of hayseed ( which must have been deliberate as an insult- her family was a ' good ' one ), her reception really hurt Mary. Very, very lonely in a large city, thankfully had Elizabeth Keckley as a friend but only one friend. Crazy situation, must have been awful.
Thanks for posting JPK
 

JPK Huson 1863

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More than one book that I've read about Lincoln refer to young Mary Todd as being quite the looker when she wore a younger ladies cloth. I've always though Sally Fields looks a little like her.
Didn't they do a wonderful job casting the entire movie? I was worried they would flake on Mary and give her a less-than-genius touch. Sally Fields was perfect amazing!! As closer than anyone; no one could capture the pain, probably smart not to try too hard, would have distracted from the plot.
 
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War Horse

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Didn't they do a wonderful job casting the entire movie? I was worried they would flake on Mary and give her a less-than-genius touch. Sally Fields was perfect amazing!! As closer than anyone; no one could capture the pain, probably smart not to try too hard, would have distracted from the plot.
Yes, Sally was the perfect Mary Todd as Daniel Day-Lewis made the most perfect Lincoln I could have ever hoped to see. Many times on the road I've wished I had taken that movie with me. I could watch it over and over again.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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Yes- nice to see entire sites devoted to her, thanks very much for linking one to this thread, Ernie Mac! I did find one which included the infamous ' Wedding Photo ', oops. Wish there were one! There may well have been, lost to Time.
 

War Horse

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Yes- nice to see entire sites devoted to her, thanks very much for linking one to this thread, Ernie Mac! I did find one which included the infamous ' Wedding Photo ', oops. Wish there were one! There may well have been, lost to Time.
You would think there would have to be one somewhere. November 4, 1842 the technology certainly existed at that time. If I remember correctly photography came out sometime in the mid 1830's.
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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Yes, Sally was the perfect Mary Todd as Daniel Day-Lewis made the most perfect Lincoln I could have ever hoped to see. Many times on the road I've wished I had taken that movie with me. I could watch it over and over again.

Crazy, isn't it? There will of course always be the nay-sayers- I'm inclined to wonder what in blazes anyone could hope for which would have made it better? I'd wondered how Day Lewis could look enough like Lincoln- after seeing him wondered how I never saw it before! Of course, Thaddeus..... OH my goodness. There are no words for that portrayal- he might as well have come back, walked into the studio and read for his own part.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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You would think there would have to be one somewhere. November 4, 1842 the technology certainly existed at that time. If I remember correctly photography came out sometime in the mid 1830's.

First-ever photo 1826? The Lincolns would have been typically purse-pinched but a professional couple, typically purs-pinched and she came from one of those families, well-heeled, so to speak. Socially prominent. You would think it would have been commemorated with a photograph?
 
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