The American history would be incomplete without a mention of the impact of the 16th president Abraham Lincoln in whose regime the nation faced many challenges, met many obstacles and also made vital policies which till today, still have a huge impact on the level the nation has risen to. It is without a doubt that behind any successful man, is the right woman and Abraham Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln was no exception. She was one of the most unloved first ladies in US history as her husband often dominated the headlines with issues of unionism and lots more that made his regime unpopular and his wife, not a people’s favorite.
Biography of Mary Todd Lincoln
Mary Ann Todd as she was named at birth on the 13th day of December 1818, grew up where she was born in Lexington, Kentucky, U.S. into the home of Robert Smith Todd a successful businessman and his Eliza Parker, who was from an influential home also. Mary was given the best of education as was the requirement for young women of her time but also because of her family’s good standing which was how came to be learned in French.
Tragedy befell her family when the matriarch of the family died while mary was still very little. Robert Smith, her father, after a period of mourning his late wife, went ahead to remarry another woman. This didn’t go down well with Mary as she despised her step-mother and chose to spend more time with her grandmother before going off to boarding school in 1832.
Mary Todd Lincoln’s Siblings
Mary Todd was the fourth of 7 children, she had three sisters; Elizabeth Todd Edwards (1813-1888), Frances ‘Fanny’ Todd Wallace (1815-1899), Ann Todd Smith (1824-1891) and three brothers; Levi O. Todd (1817-1865), Robert P. Todd (1820-1822), and George Rogers Clark Todd (1825-1900). Mary also had 10 half-siblings; 5 brothers and 5 sisters. George R.C. Todd and Mary’s two half-brothers fought in the confederate army during the civil war which took the lives of her two half-brothers; Alexandra Todd and Samuel Todd.
After a few years spent in school, Mary Todd Lincoln came home in 1839 but chose to go live with the household of Ninian Edwards who had married her sister Lizbeth and they made their home in Springfield Illinois. Edwards was from an influential family that was active in local politics. Staying in her sister’s home exposed her to many prominent personalities in town with Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas paying the most attention to her. At the time, Lincoln was had completed his studies to be a lawyer but had not made any significant progress in his career path.
Marriage and Children
Abraham Lincoln was still an up-and-coming politician and a country lawyer when he began showing strong interest in Mary. Her family were quite against their union as they saw Abraham Lincoln as not the right man for Mary because he was nine years older than her, had little formal education and was from a poor background.
Against all odds, the two finally got married on the 4th of November, 1842 and had their first son the very next year on the 1st of August, 1843. They named him Robert Todd Lincoln after the late mother of Mary Todd. Three years later, their second son was welcomed, Edward Baker Lincoln, born on the 10th of March, 1846. He became ill shortly after and died weeks before his fourth birthday.
William Wallace Lincoln, their third son came on the 21st of December, 1850. He lived a healthy life until he became ill while living in the White house and died at the age of 11. Thomas Lincoln was the last of the four sons mary had and he was born on the 4th of April, 1853. His days on earth was also short-lived as he died in Chicago on July 15, 1871, at the age of 18.
Life as the First Lady and Her Final Years
Mary Todd Lincoln was a strong supporter of her husband’s political affairs. She offered him advice at due times, hosted events and got recommendations as Abraham kept pushing through his political career. When he won the congressional seat, Mary accompanied him to Washington for part of his term. Her life as the first lady began in November 1860 after Abraham was elected as the 16th president of the United States. Without the support of her family, she gave Abraham the needed support as she was a fervent supporter of the Union. She was said to have spent lavishly during the civil war and was seen as a confederate spy.
Mary Todd Lincoln’s life in the white house was not all joyful as she lost her third son Williams while in the white house in 1862. It didn’t just end there as she was seated next to her husband the night he was shot dead by an assassin at Ford’s Theatre. This created huge devastation in her life as she left for Illinois following the death of her husband. Mary fell into a deep depression after the death of her last son, Thomas in 1871.
Her latter years were characterized by insanity which led to her being committed to a hospital for the mentally challenged outside of Chicago. After years spent outside the country for fear of being committed again on another charge of insanity, she returned home to her sister Lizabeth. She finally passed on at 63 from depression and the complications of a stroke on the 16th day of July 1882.