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

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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Location
Central Pennsylvania
While I have massive respect for Keckley, there's evidence her book couldn't have been published without revisions demanded by the publisher. I still do not believe she witnessed such an intimate moment or that Lincoln would say something like that with another person in the room. You didn't.

Mary couldn't win. She was a beautifully educated Southern girl from old Southern ' aristocracy ' BUT also a home-spun social climber? Contradictions like that are terrific indicators something is just, plain wrong. It's not the only contradiction about her, either.

Here's the other thing. Throwing around diagnosis of mental illness is irresponsible. There's a connection being made here between what an awful person Mary was and mental illness. A huge percentage of the population seeks help for some form of mental illness at some point in their lives- creating a correlation based on this silly portrait continually painted of Mary Todd Lincoln implies there's something ' wrong ' with sufferers. Mental illness is not a character flaw nor is it any more shameful than a broken collar bone. Dredging up both real and fictional events ' proving ' someone is or was mentally unstable calls into question a motive. What that would be or why we insist on following anyone beyond the grave to keep getting kicks in isn't mentally unstable it's just mean.

Mary Randolph Custis Lee took blue pills. She had R.A. or something like it. Because I'm not qualified to make a diagnosis for anyone living or dead, for anything, it isn't possible to say. I CAN conjecture based on who she was those blue pills were not for a communicable, sexually transmitted disease.
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
Walk a mile in her shoes" OR "judge lest ye be judged" is what I say!

Exactly, thank you! You know, I'm surely, surely not an anomaly in never having played this silly game ( at which we girls seem most adept ) where someone is cut from the herd, barbs planted in her flesh and everyone gets to somehow feel better about themselves through the process. I don't know. What's always seemed crazy to me is girls not sticking together.
 
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Mental illness is not a character flaw nor is it any more shameful than a broken collar bone.

Annie, I could not agree more!!
But I think just because of that, if Mary Lincoln really suffered from any form of mental illness or probably rather a brain tumor, then she is beyond any criticism!! If you wonder about the strange gait of someone and then are told that person has lost a leg, then you see that person in a different light. Suddenly what that person cannot do becomes unimportant, you marvel at what he or she still accomplishes given the circumstances. That's the case with me and Mary Lincoln. I admit that I also disapproved of her seemingly limitless spending, her over-reacting jealousy and her apparent lack of self-control. But since I heard about that brain tumor she had, I see her in a different light. So, in my personal view, talking about any sickness or incapacity of Mary Lincoln does not take a jot away from her reputation, right on the contrary! I'm only now able to see her as an enormously brave woman and finally she has my deep respect. Living with all that pain and probably ghastly experiences where she might not even understood herself why she was feeling and/or acting the way she did and all the time knowing that all eyes are on the First Lady, must have cost her a lot - more than I can even imagine.
Therefore now I can also say without any restraint "Rest in peace, dear lady!"
 

John S. Carter

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Mar 15, 2017
I'm not sure he said it either or who'd have been around during such an intimate, private moment to record he said it. Neither would have repeated that conversation to anyone. That " Get ahold of yourself Mary or you'll end up there " line had been repeated often enough to be part of the Mary Todd Lincoln narrative.
Mary was not liked by certain people.First she was from a slave state .members of her family fought in the CSA,and most annoying was that she was a aggressive and ambitious woman.Then she had to deal with a husband who some say suffered from serve depression.Even First Ladies have been the target for the opposition ;Andrew Jackson's ,Woodrow Wilson.'s ,Ronald Reagan's.and now Donald Trump
 

wbull1

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“Up flew windows, out popped heads
To see this Lady gay
In silken cloak and feather white
Ariding on the dray.

At length arrived at Edward’s gate
Hart backed the usual way
And taking out the iron pin
He rolled her off the dray.”

So wrote Dr. Elias Merryman in 1840, about Mary Todd who organized a trip downtown with a friend to show off their finery after a hard rain in Springfield, IL. At Mary's instruction, they picked up wooden shingles and put one down to step on all the way to downtown. It was a great idea until, when downtown, they ran out of shingles. Unfazed, she called to Elijah Hart, who was driving a large delivery wagon built to convey the heaviest and most bulky cargo. Hart drove Mary back to her brother-in-law's home, which caused something of a sensation and inspired the poem quoted. (Her friend declined the invitation to accompany Mary.)

This was the clever and fun escapade of a young woman who enchanted a number of suitors.
 

mkyzzzrdet

Corporal
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Back to the ORIGINAL subject of this thread, this assessment by @wbull1 closely coincides with the version put forth at that most appropriate place to visit, the Mary Todd Lincoln House in Lexington, Kentucky in which she grew up: https://civilwartalk.com/threads/mary-todd-lincoln-house-lexington-kentucky.135911/ Also, other sympathetic accounts describe Mary's intelligence - especially for the times - and her intense interest in politics, both rarities for women and especially Southern Belles of the day.

I was with James when we went to visit this house several years ago. I recall that there was a large painting of a younger Mary on the wall, as the painter conjectured she might have looked when Lincoln first met her. It was, as I recall, not painted from life. If the painting was indeed acccurate, I thought she was stunning. James - am I recalling this correctly? I wish we could post an image of the painting on here - I don't think anyone has. James - you know any way to do it??.
 

wbull1

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Mary Todd Lincoln's granddaughter, Jesse Lincoln, may give us a hint at how Mary looked as a young woman
 
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huskerblitz

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Nebraska
I was with James when we went to visit this house several years ago. I recall that there was a large painting of a younger Mary on the wall, as the painter conjectured she might have looked when Lincoln first met her. It was, as I recall, not painted from life. If the painting was indeed acccurate, I thought she was stunning. James - am I recalling this correctly? I wish we could post an image of the painting on here - I don't think anyone has. James - you know any way to do it??.
I was there a couple of years ago. I don't recall the painting off the top of my head and my photos are stored somewhere else. But this is the earliest known photo of Mary Todd in her later 20s. So not far off from how she would have looked when being courted by Lincoln.

Mary_Todd_Lincoln_1846-1847_restored.png
 

mkyzzzrdet

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Joined
Feb 23, 2013
I was there a couple of years ago. I don't recall the painting off the top of my head and my photos are stored somewhere else. But this is the earliest known photo of Mary Todd in her later 20s. So not far off from how she would have looked when being courted by Lincoln.

View attachment 312145


I am not completely sure that this was the right place where I saw that painting - but I think it was. James has a better memory than me and he can verify if it was. I do agree with some of the comments on here and I also think it is unfair that so many people see these old pics and think of her as a weak, dumpy, unattractive older lady with mental issues. I think she was far from that. Maybe later in life she had some problems that they did not know how to diagnose correctly back then.
 

James N.

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I was with James when we went to visit this house several years ago. I recall that there was a large painting of a younger Mary on the wall, as the painter conjectured she might have looked when Lincoln first met her. It was, as I recall, not painted from life. If the painting was indeed acccurate, I thought she was stunning. James - am I recalling this correctly? I wish we could post an image of the painting on here - I don't think anyone has. James - you know any way to do it??.
Unfortunately the painting isn't in either of the paltry two photos I took inside the house, and I really don't remember it, so I'm afraid I'm no help this time!
 

Lubliner

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I think there is a remarkable contrast in how I view persons during my youth and on into my elder years. What I once would have considered homely (i.e. Bonnie Parker smoking a cigar for example), I find I have become more 'sympathetic' to her appearance, later on. Maybe it is just an immaturity ascribed to being youthful when our vision was without flaw?

Lubliner.
 
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