Mary Todd Lincoln
1818 - 1882
Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of President Abraham Lincoln, died July 16, 1882. She was 63.
Lincoln was born December 13, 1818 in Lexington, Kentucky. The daughter of Robert S. and Eliza Parker Todd, she grew up in an affluent and socially connected family.
When she was 20, Mary Todd moved to Springfield, Illinois to live with her older sister, Elizabeth. There she met Abraham Lincoln. A long courtship resulted in the coupleís marriage on November 4, 1842. They had four children---Robert Todd, Thomas (Tad), William and Edward. Only Robert would live to adulthood.
The personalities of the Lincolns were very different. He was quiet and not always smooth in social situations, while she was more vocal and ambitious.
Mary was often at odds with White House staff and other officials. She is said to have had a sharp tongue that got her into trouble. She also began exhibiting signs of mental distress, perhaps due to the death of two of her children, one in infancy and the other from illness in 1862.
The presidentís wife accompanied her husband on the ill-fated night of April 14 to Fordís Theater to watch a presentation of Our American Cousin. It was supposed to be a relaxing evening for the president whose exhausting efforts as a wartime president had finally come to an end with the surrender of southern forces.
But the evening turned into a nightmare as southern sympathizer John Wilkes Booth shot the president in the back of the head. Lincoln died the next day. Mary was distraught and never fully recovered during the remainder of her life.
Thinking she was financially ruined, her irrational behavior caused her to sell off many of her possessions, even though she had the proceeds from Lincolnís estate and a generous pension from the federal government.
She moved to Chicago for three years and then spent some time touring Europe. In 1871, her already mentally depressed state was enhanced by the death of her 18-year-old son Thomas.
In 1875, her surviving son, Robert, had her declared mentally incompetent because he feared she was not able to take care of her affairs and possibly commit suicide. She spent a brief time in a sanitarium and lived with her sister for a while.
Always in a state of despair, Mrs. Lincoln spent a lot of time traveling and worrying about her finances.
She spent the last months of her life with her older sister, Elizabeth. She died in Springfield, Illinois on July 16, 1882. She is buried next to husband in Springfieldís Oak Ridge Cemetery.