Mary Lincoln Biography :: National First Ladies' Library

Another Illinois attorney, Milton Hay, observed: “She may have had some influence upon him, but not in the way she claimed. I think she made his home tolerably disagreeable and hence he took to politics and public matters for occupation. If his domestic life had been entirely happy, I dare say he would have stayed at home and not busied himself with distant concerns. In that way she may have been of use to Lincoln.” 10 Despite his rough exterior and rougher manners, Mary was drawn to Abraham Lincoln and came to defend him from family criticism. Niece Katherine Helm wrote that “her cousins noticed that Mary flared into defense at the least criticism of Lincoln, although she herself still made a little – a very little – mild fun of the young lawyer. Mr. and Mrs. Edwards at last became alarmed at Mary’s evident preference, and feeling their responsibility as her guardians, they strongly objected and pointed out to Mary the incongruity of such a marriage. Although Mr. Lincoln was honorable, able and popular, his future, they said, was nebulous, his family relations were on a different social plane. His education had been desultory. He had no culture, he was ignorant of social forms and customs, he was indifferent to social position.” 11

Robert would be the only Lincoln child to survive into adulthood, dying in 1926 at the age of 83.

The newlyweds moved into the Globe Tavern and remained there with their new son Robert Todd Lincoln until 1843 when they moved into a rented home that they eventually bought at the corner of Eighth and Jackson Streets in Springfield. “In this house Mary defined her own style of domesticity, one that was distinct but reflected the middle-class taste of the period. Her entire upbringing, as well as her personal needs, influenced her decision to devote body and soul to husband, children, home.” wrote historian Charles B. Strozier. 18

National First Ladies' Library's biography for Mary Lincoln

If Mary did not calm down, Lincoln would simply pick up one of the children and leave the house.

Perhaps Mary Lincoln drew comfort and inspiration from Yonge’s closing tribute to his royal subject, quoted above. An incredible association copy, acquired and inscribed by Mary Lincoln while she was living in France.

Early life and career of Abraham Lincoln - Wikipedia

Lincoln often arrived late, or not at all, for dinner; he would bring friends home for dinner with him without notifying Mary; he was indifferent to food and never complimented her on her cooking.

Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln - Abraham Lincoln…

Mary Lincoln (1818-1882) was born into the prominent Todd family in Lexington, Kentucky. Educated at female academies and boarding schools, she learned to speak French fluently and also studied literature, dance, drama, and music. She was very well-educated for her time, place, and gender. In November 1842, she married Abraham Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois, and they had four sons. She supported her husband’s political ambitions, becoming First Lady in 1861. Because she was from a border state, with several of her relatives supporting the Confederacy, Mary Lincoln was the object of suspicion in the press. Although she was responsible for hosting many social functions, her extensive spending to renovate the White House also drew complaints from a nation at war and from her husband. However, she also visited wounded soldiers in Washington hospitals, taking them fruit and flowers and writing letters home for them. Prone to severe headaches and depression, she suffered the loss of three of her four sons and was present when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre.

Abraham Lincoln's Classroom Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln

In fact, Mary’s White House seamstress stated that nothing pleased Mary quite so much as when Lincoln referred to her as his “child wife.” This was the essence of Lincoln’s influence on Mary: he played multiple roles in her life, satisfying multiple needs.

University of Mary For Life | University of Mary

The Lincoln family in 1864: (from right), President Abraham Lincoln, his sons Thaddeus and Robert and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. (MPI/Getty Images)