Who Didn’t Love Lucy?

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DBF

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4 guys.jpg


John Wilkes Booth - Robert Todd Lincoln
Oliver Wendall Holmes, Jr. - John Milton Hay

(United States Public Domain)

She was the daughter of a United States Senator; she was described as “pretty, precocious, sweet and good” {*} and from a young age she managed to attract a large number of romantic interests that lasted throughout most of her early life. Lucy Hale is her name and this is her story of the men that crossed her path throughout her life. She was just 12 years old when she received her first poems from a Harvard University student - William Chandler. As seen in this snippet from a letter dated July 20th, 1854 when Lucy was a mere 13 years old - from a 19-year old William Chandler:

“Lucy, you once promised me, That you would write;
Lucy, you have told a fib, Which is’nt right;
I have waited, week on week,
Patiently; I now must speak -
Lucy, Lucy, tell me why

You have told a cruel lie.” {4}

* * *
At 17 years of age she was described as having "dark hair, blue eyes, a clear skin, and a stunning figure”. {*} Her manner toward men was a "subtle brew of flattery, teasing and cajoling; of rapt attention laced with a hints of indifference and occasionally a touch of cruelty”. {*} While vacationing in Maine she met 18 years old Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., and they began writing love notes while Holmes is back at Harvard and Lucy in attending a boarding school in Hanover, NH:

“Cambridge, April 24th 1858
Dear Miss Hale:

After leaving you at Dover, I was not extremely voluble and for the next three days at home I am sorry to say I was so cross that no one could come within a mile of me. What a disappointment it was to hear that you were not coming to Boston. But do you enjoy yourself at Hanover (nunnery)?

College is perfect delight, nothing to hold you down hardly, you can settle for yourself exactly what sort of a life you’ll lead and it’s delightful—one night up till one at a fellow’s room, the next cosy in your own, in the days boating etc. and not too hard (as a general thing) lessons. Please tell me all about your life there—being of a slightly jealous disposition the regulation about riding with young gentlemen affords me huge satisfaction.

Please give my respects to all the young ladies at Dover & thereabouts but to none of the male species.

Your aff. friend,

O. W. H. Jr. . . .{1}

Apparently Holmes was not particularly happy with Lucy’s response (which has long been lost) as he addressed her days later:

Cambridge Apr. 30th
Dear Miss Hale

This morning I got your letter—as you can imagine to my great delight. Now I shall proceed to analyse it. First—“correspondents”—How many young gentlemen do you keep going at once on an average? It is not so agreeable to reflect on the various rivals who are at the same time receiving as great or greater ? Does that explain?

I shall not give the love sent either to the young gentleman in question nor any other as I prefer retaining it for my own use—And as to my request in the [railroad] cars, I will hold you to your promise. I ask for a lock of your hair also. Do you remember the baths the walks the night on the piazza & the last night, & more than all the cars? And yet you write “ Mr. H ”—I don’t know the gentleman. {1}

[Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr married an old family friend Fanny Bowditch Dixwell Holmes on June 17th 1872. The marriage lasted almost 57 years until death claimed Mrs. Holmes on April 30, 1919.]

* * *​

And the young men kept coming and not all of them had names we are familiar while some gave no names at all. This was the case with this missive she received on Valentine’s day, 1862:

My Dear Miss Hale

Were it not for the License which a time-honored observance of this day allows, I had not written you this poor note.

You resemble in a most remarkable degree a lady, very dear to me, now dead and your close resemblance to her surprised me the first time I saw you.

This must be my apology for any apparent rudeness noticable.—To see you has indeed afforded me a melancholly pleasure, if you can conceive of such, and should we never meet nor I see you again—believe me, I shall always associate you in my memory, with her, who was very beautiful, and whose face, like your own I trust, was a faithful index of gentleness and amiability.

With a Thousand kind wishes for your future happiness I am, to you— A Stranger {2}

But this gentleman would not be a stranger for long, for the letter was from a well known actor - John Wilkes Booth

* * *​

Thus began her 3 year relationship with Mr. Booth. To most people they believed by the year 1865 they were engaged although this has never been confirmed. What is known that her father, Senator Hale was not pleased with the relationship primarily because of his low occupation as an “actor". He had someone else in mind as a son-in-law (more on that later).

There is general agreement that Lucy and Booth were having dinner together just two hours before he would assassinate the president. During the days that followed, Senator Hale did everything he could to protect his daughter’s reputation. He gave statements to the press that his daughter and Booth were never engaged. He must have exerted some influence as Lucy was never questioned in regards to any matter over the assassination’s conspiracy even when investigators discovered Booth carried a picture of Lucy at the time of his death.

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Lucy Hale
(United States Public Domain)

In a further move to protect his daughter, in the fall of 1865 he left to fill his appointment as Minister to Spain and Lucy spent the next five years abroad. She still kept up her romantic interests reportedly dating Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr and Frederick Anderson friend and former Harvard roommate of Robert Todd Lincoln. Then there was one more suitor she met abroad - President Lincoln’s former secretary, John Hay. He wrote from Madrid Spain 1869:

“I came back from the station [the day you left] wondering if there were anyone else in the world just like you; one of equal charm, equal power of gaining hearts, and equal disdain of the hearts you gain. The last glance of those mysterious blue-gray eyes fell upon a dozen or so of us and everybody but me thought the last glance was for him. I have known you too long. Since you were a school-girl—yet even in those early days you were as puzzling in your apparent frankness and real reserve as you are today. You know how I love and admire you. I do not understand you, nor hope to, nor even wish to. You would lose to me something of your indefinable fascination if I knew exactly what you meant. {1}

[John Hay married in 1874 a young lady named Clara Stone. They had 4 children and stayed married until his death on July 1, 1905. A daughter Helen married into the prominent New York “Whitney” family, his granddaughter was the first owner of the New York Mets.]

* * *
Did Lucy ever have “eyes” for Robert Todd Lincoln? Her father certainly desired for the match, however, there is no confirmation of any relationship between them.

It is believed that he may have studied with Lucy and John Hay on the day of the assassination. There is one interesting theory that muses that Lucy was preparing to follow her father to Spain when he filled the position of Minister and could this have possibly pushed Booth’s mind into killing Lincoln to stop Lucy from leaving.

The answer to my question really doesn’t come until June 18, 1878, when the “Chicago Daily Inter-Ocean” published a story regarding the romantic rivalry between John Wilkes Booth and Robert Lincoln in regards to Lucy Lambert Hale. The paper was forced to print a rebuttal from Lincoln as told to the “New Orleans Times”:

"A highly romantic story concerning the reasons why J. Wilkes Booth assassinated President Lincoln is going the rounds of the papers. In this it is said that Booth and young Robert Lincoln were rivals for the love of Miss Bessie Hale, daughter of Senator Hale. The parents of Miss Hale favored the suit of Lincoln, and through jealousy and rage Booth conceived the terrible crime of killing the president, the father of young Lincoln. Mr. Robert Lincoln puts a quietus to the story through the Chicago-Inter Ocean. He says that he never knew Miss Hale, and consequently could not have been her lover, and that he and Booth were never rivals. He also denies knowing Mrs. Temple, who is the author of the story.” {3}

[Robert Todd Lincoln married Mary Eunice Harlan and they were the parents of three children.]

* * *
Lucy Hale went back to her first romantic interest she had when she was 12 years old - William Chandler. In 1874 she became his 2nd wife and they had one son. In 1882 Lucy came back to Washington as the wife the Secretary of the Navy and then a Senator from New Hampshire and was well known as a spirited hostess, helpmate to her husband, and as a woman who never lost her beauty.

fullsizeoutput_131d.jpeg


Lucy Lambert Hale Chandler
January 1, 1841 – October 15, 1915
(United States Public Domain)

* * *

It took 20 years for the couple to finally marry
but as William Chandler concluded in that poem dated 1854

“Sweetest, if I’ve e’er offended - Please do forgive;
Sweetest, if thou dost refuse, - Then I cant live;
Thy kindly smile doth give me health,
Thy angry frown would bring me death.
Lucy, Lucy, wilt thou kill?

Thy adoring, loving Will.” {4}


* * *


Sources
1. https://www.americanheritage.com/they-all-loved-lucy
2. https://www.newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/lucy-lambert-hale-gets-valentine-john-wilkes-booth-valentine/
3. http://civilwarsaga.com/romantic-rivals-john-wilkes-booth-and-robert-todd-lincoln/
4. https://www.nhhistory.org/object/852737/letter-from-william-e-chandler-to-lucy-hale-1854-july-20
{*} Wikipedia -(Photos) Lucy Lambert Hale/Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr./John Wilkes Booth/Robert Todd Lincoln/John Hay
 
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leftyhunter

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Interesting story! As to her age at getting love letters. Those were different times indeed. Many girls were married at 16. So while we might look askance at someone writing to a 12-13 yr old, I imagine it was not so strange in 1860!
True but if a girl back in the day got married at 16 it could be because it's a "shotgun wedding". I does seem a little sick. At 19 I didn't even talk to 12 year old girls.
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leftyhunter

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Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth began exchanging letters when she was 13 and he was 18, though royalty have always been weirdos in the romance realm.
Also inbreeding I.e the Czar Nicholas the II had a son with hemophilia. Marrying cousins get a bit trickey although 5th Cousins once removed is ok I.e Eleanor and Franklin Rossevelt.
Leftyhunter
 
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DBF

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Two additional thoughts regarding a 12 year old Lucy receiving poems from an older man. First, perhaps her father didn’t know. When it comes to “matters of the heart” young girls will guard their’s away from “adult” prying eyes. My 2nd thought - Lucy’s father, John Parker Hale was 38 when she was born and in 2 years he moved to Washington to serve in the United States House (1843-1845) and then moved on to the Senate from (1847-1853/1855-1865). So when Lucy was 12 years old in 1853 - her father was politically savvy and perhaps too busy to see what his daughter was up to with this Harvard boy. As I wrote - Senator Hale was desirous to see a union of his daughter with Robert Lincoln - Booth was just an “actor”. He protected his daughter after the assassination, but did he do it for her or his career?
 
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leftyhunter

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@leftyhunter I may be wrong but I believe boys of that age were working in the coal mines. My grandfather lost an arm working with machinery as a child laborer. It was a different time in a lot of ways. Just a thought.

John
The 19 year old in question was not from a hard Scrabble background but upper class.. Not digging 19 year old man being in love with a 12 year old girl.
But that's just me. Yes back in the day some states the age of consent was 10 and some state legislatiors did not want to change it.
Leftyhunter
 
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DBF

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I'm wondering if she was the standard beauty,
Found this on one site:

“The 1800s, or Victorian Era, called for full skirts and waists as tiny as possible. Women were strapping corsets around their midsections and wearing petticoats, hoops and bustles to emphasize their small waists and magnify their round, voluminous derrieres.”
https://articles.aplus.com/a/history-female-beauty-standards?no_monetization=true

One interesting fact I found on women wearing corsets:

“One report stated that a fashionable women’s corset exerted, on average, 22 pounds of pressure on the internal organs.”
https://www.connerprairie.org/educate/indiana-history/lives-of-women/

As the old saying goes - “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”; and these men beheld a beauty in Lucy.
 
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WJC

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If I had a daughter who was 12 getting love letters from a 19 year old I would be very concerned. That's kind of sick. If Lucy at age 32 married someone seven years older not a big deal but a 19 year old hitting on a 12 year old not good.
Leftyhunter
Such age differences were not uncommon in the 19th century and, for that matter, some places in the 20th century. Those unions were often long and successful: how long were Loretta and Oliver Llynn married? They married when he was 21 and she was 15.
 

leftyhunter

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Such age differences were not uncommon in the 19th century and, for that matter, some places in the 20th century. Those unions were often long and successful: how long were Loretta and Oliver Llynn married? They married when he was 21 and she was 15.
I was a big fan of " to catch a predator". I guess it's a cultural difference. In California until recently the law was the age of consent is 18. To many teenage girls get pregnant and Dad don't pay diddly for his baby. Not sure if it was ever right for adults to have sex with children.
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

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My bad the age of consent in many states in the Nineteenth Century was 10. Many state legislatiors defend that and we have a past thread or so that discusses that.
So definitely a different mindset back in the day .Today it's between 16 to 18 although South Carolina has one exception for teenagers at 14. If I had daughters even granddaughters not digging South Carolina's law.
Leftyhunter
 
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Waterloo50

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Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth began exchanging letters when she was 13 and he was 18, though royalty have always been weirdos in the romance realm.
I read today that Prince Charles dated Sarah McCorquodale, who is she I hear you ask, she would be Diana Spencers older sister, weird huh.
 

JPChurch

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JP Church married a woman 15 years younger than himself after the War was over in Peabody Kansas. His oldest son brought home a young woman he met up with in France during the post- occupation after the World War. She was like 20 years younger when they got married here in Wash D.C.

Lucy Hale doesn't strike me as being a very stunningly beautiful young lady. Maybe her family's $$ made her more attractive to those that were interested in her.

CBS Sunday Morning did a segment on "Nellie Bly" this past weekend, aka Elly Cochran from Pittsburg PA. A woman with quite the history behind her and very beautiful as well for a Victorian age woman. I'd sail around the world with her for sure.

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Nellie_Bly_21.jpg
 
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