In this paper I will be discussing Abraham Lincoln’s relationship/ marriage with Mary Todd Lincoln. It is somewhat debated whether or not their marriage was a business deal or if it was really true love. The reason this is heavily debated is because at one point in their engagement, they broke it off. Then all of a sudden they decided to work things out and get back together and get married. So in this paper I will give background information on both Abraham and Mary and correspondence between the two. I personally think that they are in love, but back in that time they just had different ways about things.
Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809 in Hardin County, Kentucky. Lincoln was born to Nancy and Thomas Lincoln. Lincoln had one older sister, Sarah, and a younger brother, Thomas, which died in infancy. When Abe was younger he and his family was forced to move from Kentucky to Perry County, Indiana in 1817. When lincoln was 10 years old his mother Nancy died of milk sickness caused by drinking milk from one of the cows on the farm that had eaten snakeroot, at the young age of 34. After Abe’s mother died he was very sad and he distanced himself away from his father.
There were a lot of responsibilities placed on him when he was young because of the fact that they lived on a farm. Sarah, Abe’s older sister, pushed Abe to read more. Throughout Abe’s schooling career, it’s estimated that he only received about 18 months of formal education. The rest he learned on his own. And it helped him focus on other things. Lincoln moved out at 22 to set out on his own. He had several jobs including shopkeeper, postmaster, and a general store owner. It wasn’t until 1832 when Lincoln was elected to be captain of the Black Hawk War. After this time hen Lincoln really began his political career.
Mary Todd was born in Lexington, Kentucky on December 13, 1818. Her parents were Elizabeth Parker and Robert Smith Todd. Shortly after Mary was born her and her family moved to Springfield, Illinois. For her time, Mary was considered a very well educated girl. She studied at an academy and even went to a boarding school. Mary was the fourth child out of seven. Mary growing up didn’t have to worry about much because her family had money. Mary’s extended amount of education was odd for that time because not many women were educated to that extent.
Before marriage she didn’t have to work because she was provided for very well. Mary and Lincoln met in the year of 1838. They met in a class dedicated to the cultivation of the arts called “Coterie”. Since there were huge social barriers between Mary and Lincoln it would’ve been close to impossible for them to of met and fall in love if they hadn’t been in that class together. Mary was actually the one to pursue Lincoln. Abraham was sort of the shy type and Mary was known to do a lot of the “courting” between them. Mary was much more into Abraham than he was into her.
There was a woman named Matilda Edwards that was a little before Mary that Abe was into. She was very attractive and wanted by many guys. Abraham had ever once told Mary that he loved Matilda. But in the end Mary had a way about herself that Abe must have liked so they got engaged around 1839 or 1840. Abraham was known to have a “rough exterior” and he was very intellectual which was one of the reasons Mary was so attracted to him. He was self-educated and very smart. Around 1840-181 Abraham was having second thoughts about marrying Mary so he called their engagement off.
He said “I incurred any obligation to marry that woman” At first Abraham was not going to tell Mary to her face until one of Abe’s good friends told him that was what he needed to do. Even though they were on somewhat of a “break” they still met regularly in the summer in Springfield and in November everyone was very shocked to hear about their marriage. Mary and Lincoln didn’t want a big wedding so they decided to get married quietly. Back in that time frame marriage was very different. They mostly spent time apart. They basically had separate lives.
I don’t entirely know why they did this because there is not much to be said why they lived the way they did but you have to take in the consideration of the time frame. The 1800’s were proper and they probably found it improper to live together. Or maybe they just didn’t find it as big of a deal as it is in present day. But most of all Abraham was happy with Mary. You could tell he loved her very much. Mary was always trying to impress him but she didn’t really need to because she was the love of his life. People that knew the couple saw the way he looked at her.
He was in love with her although they had their differences. The 1850’s were crucial for Abraham Lincoln and politics. Mary helped him through everything and was basically his partner in crime so to speak. Since she went to college and was very well educated she helped him with every step to becoming president. Mary Todd Lincoln is sort of why the name “first lady” comes into play when talking about the White House. She was very important when it came to Lincoln getting voted in and becoming president. Lincoln wanted Mary to be notified as soon as anyone heard word of who won the 1860 election.
She put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into him and the election so he knew it was very important that she was notified as soon as possible. When Abraham was gone there is no doubt that Mary was sad and lonely. She writes in a letter addressed to a James H. Orne stating “separated from a devoted husband who always provided so comfortably and even luxuriously for me, you can imagine that the great change is crushing me to the earth. The anxiety too, regarding what Congress will do for me—where it is so much required—has completely undermined my health so much so that the physician who has been attending upon me has urged me to go South.
She missed him when he was gone and was said to be depressed when he was away. But like it states in the letter he was very devoted to his job so he had to do what he had to do and he always made sure Mary and the children were well provided for. When Abraham was assassinated in 1875 she was devastated. She also wasn’t aware that she awaited a trial for the murder of her husband. Mary had been known to take large doses of chloral hydrate for insomnia. Mary believed that she had a brain disorder that made her kind of crazy. But with her losing a child and then her husband being shot you can’t really blame her for being crazy.
She had a lot of heartbreak in her life and I think the saddest part about it all was that she was highly educated but at the same time almost mad. My conclusion to this paper would be that Mary and Lincoln were in love. They had a difficult love and Lincoln was often gone tied up in work but he always made sure Mary and his children were well taken care of. There were times when Lincoln questioned his love for her but they always seemed to pull through and work together. Through their “break” then into Lincoln’s political career. They definitely live up to the quote “Teamwork makes the dream work” and they were definitely good at it.