What did Lincoln see in Mary Todd? Maybe that’s the wrong question.

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dlofting

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From the Washington Post and novelist Louis Bayard

Edited.

Mary Todd Lincoln, to be clear, whose arraignment in the court of mid-19th-century public opinion enrolls her in a vexed sorority with today’s first ladies and female politicians. Her example reminds us, in case we needed reminding, that America has never known quite what to do with women who enter the public sphere.

It was Mary’s particular misfortune to be the woman to one particular man. Indeed, of all the mysteries that have enveloped Abraham Lincoln, his choice of a life mate has been, for both his contemporaries and for later generations of scholars, the least soluble. Lincoln himself, writing to an acquaintance a week after his wedding, declared his marriage “a matter of profound wonder,” and scholars have been wondering ever since. What drew Lincoln to such a complex and mercurial creature? What kept him from seeing all the black moods and emotional cloudbursts she would rain down on him? He had already called off their wedding once. Was he simply too chivalrous to do it again?"

For the rest of the article:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/05/28/what-did-lincoln-see-mary-todd-maybe-thats-wrong-question/?utm_term=.9c8c91b32739&wpisrc=nl_everything&wpmm=1
 
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Ole Miss

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Not every thing you read about Mary Todd Lincoln is true. She was far from being a harridan, mad, unloving, society freak as presented. She was a lady far above Lincoln’s social level who was well educated and cultured. She was in the sights of established Washington society shrews from the day of her husband’s election
She lost 3 children, her husband with little if any emotional assistance from anyone except Ms Keckley.
Don’t know many people who struggled with more difficulties on her own!! Her oldest son did interact well with her
She deserves better treatment from history and this country than she received in life
Regards
David
 

wbull1

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Mary Todd suffers from the description forced upon her by William Herndon, an avowed enemy, and the sniping of newspaper reporters both North and South. In her later years, she had delusional thoughts and at least once tried to kill herself. But that was not the woman Lincoln met and married. As a young woman, she was witty, interested in politics, and drop-dead gorgeous. Lincoln came from an impoverished background. He did not have the social graces of those who were instructed in manners. He did not have family connections he could rely on. He was kind but rough-hewn. Contemporaries were more shocked that she was interested in him than the other way around.
She was ambitious, a shrewd judge of character and a charming hostess. They were a formidable team. Neither one was easy to live with. Mary was hyperemotional, as one observer put it always in the attic or the basement.
Lincoln was prone to bouts of melancholia. He was also away from home a great deal. I truly believe they loved each other.
 

WJC

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of all the mysteries that have enveloped Abraham Lincoln, his choice of a life mate has been, for both his contemporaries and for later generations of scholars, the least soluble.
Is the choice any couple makes to unite for life "soluble"? Love doesn't play by the rules of others so it is fruitless for us to try to answer what these two- or any two- saw in each other. Further, it is frankly not our business.
 

wbull1

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Didn't I read somewhere that Lincoln's true live died
That was William Herndon's contention about Ann Rutledge. In New Salem, Ann and Lincoln were at least friends. He might well have been in love with her. She was a smart, hard-working, very well liked and pretty. It's possible that she returned his affection. She died and Lincoln was saddened. The evidence is as close to 50-50 as possible that they had more than a friendship. If so, how much more is unknown. Complicating the situation was that Ann was engaged to another man. What Herndon went on to say with much less than 50-50 odds to be true was 1) that this loss was the reason for Lincoln's melancholy, which is romantic but very unlikely. 2) He added that Lincoln never loved any woman after Ann's death, which was a slap in Mary's face. By the way, Lincoln was engaged once before he met Mary Todd. He seemed to be in love with that woman, although the relationship did not work out. The story of love and loss is romantic and appealing so it remains in circulation even though it is almost certainly false.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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My favorite , as far that scumbucket Herndon goes is how he toured the country giving lectures about Mary. It was crazy. She had what amounted to a stalker on her hands. Lectures. Mary was Herndon's road to a putrid spotlight. He was only one of 3 ex-law partners and presented himself as the only man who ' knew ' Lincoln. His success in creating this fictional woman everyone loved to hate is testimony to how much we must love believing the worst. There are indignant objections in era newspapers written by those who knew the family, it's just easier even 150 years later to ignore them in favor of the scurrilous.

Her sisters did her no favors either. She'd married the enemiest enemy of them all in a Southern family. It's a little heart breaking reading how Mary welcomed them, comforted them, used her position to help them and thought their ties intact despite the war. Neither had the decency to confront her face to face. They accepted the kindness then stuck shivs in her back.

Gee whiz. She died a lonely, battered and hopeless woman instead of honored as the widow of a murdered President. I've heard Robert defended for the ' trial ' of her sanity, that he was doing his best for her. Nonsense. That was his mother, he her only surviving son. A politician, Robert distanced himself from her. If she was suffering it was his job to take care of her, not contribute to the circus.

It's so odd. Wives of famous men, beloved by the public get it in the neck and we have no better example than Mary Todd Lincoln. Don't get me started on Mary Custis Lee. It's like these men were elevated to saint status and as such we require they stand alone in History, not by the wives that walked that road by their sides.
 

DBF

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She was in the sights of established Washington society shrews from the day of her husband’s election
I think you can not stress enough how the women of Washington despised this “back-woods” woman, after all they considered she came from the “frontier”. There was an effort by some, Katherine (Kate) Chase comes to the fore-front of women that would never say anything nice or encouraging to her, and Kate could usurp her at every social engagement Mary attended. It had to have been so lonely for Mary.

She did have 1 friend and President Lincoln was aware of the friendship and called on Mary Jane Welles during Willie’s death.
https://civilwartalk.com/threads/a-friendship-blooms-through-depths-of-gloom.158238/

Bonding over a death creates a strong bond - but it's a sad way to make a friend.
 

AnnaLee

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...Wives of famous men, beloved by the public get it in the neck and we have no better example than Mary Todd Lincoln.
I totally agree with you Annie. Almost everyone jumped on the "hatred band wagon" to insult, degrade, and mutilate Mary Todd Lincoln especially after Lincoln died. I think the most hurtful to her was that Robert went along with the degradation and abuse instead of protecting her.
 
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From the Washington Post and novelist Louis Bayard

Edited.

Mary Todd Lincoln, to be clear, whose arraignment in the court of mid-19th-century public opinion enrolls her in a vexed sorority with today’s first ladies and female politicians. Her example reminds us, in case we needed reminding, that America has never known quite what to do with women who enter the public sphere.

For the rest of the article:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/05/28/what-did-lincoln-see-mary-todd-maybe-thats-wrong-question/?utm_term=.9c8c91b32739&wpisrc=nl_everything&wpmm=1
I agree with this part.


Most of the discussions on “whatever did (insert prominent man) see in his future wife” are sexist, in my opinion. How often do people pick out a woman who is famous in her own right, and ask what she saw in her future husband?
 

Ole Miss

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In my years of experience as an administrator at a major university and in life it has been apparent to me that women are seldom kind to other women, especially if feeling superior in social status and behavior. Women can be so cruel to each other. I have seen young women who went out for Rush devastated by not gaining admission to their choice of sorority and being ostracized.

Being the brother of two sisters, father of two daughters and grandfather of two little babies, I can state that women are not gracious to each other. Outfits, make-up, hairstyles, company and societal positions are all open for comment. I gather it mus be difficult to be a Lady at times.

I still love them and still don't have a clue why they act the way they do but I know spending a woman's money on another woman will get you hurt real quick!!!
Regards
David
 

wbull1

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I believe that part of the problem was that at the time ambitious women had very few ways to excel and demonstrate their abilities. Mary's childhood dream was to have her husband become President because she could not. (She could not vote either.) Hostessing was one of the very few fields women could compete in so the competition of hostessing was fierce.
 
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