Lincoln, Mary Todd

Life Span
    Full name
    Mary Ann Todd Lincoln
    Place of Birth
    Birth Date Certainty
    Death Date Certainty
    Sectional choice
    Slave State
    No. of Siblings
    No. of Spouses
    No. of Children
    Robert Smith Todd (father, 1791-1849), Eliza Ann Parker Todd (mother), Elizabeth "Betsey" Humphreys Todd (step-mother), Abraham Lincoln (husband), Elizabeth Porter Todd Edwards (sister, 1813-1888), Frances Jane Todd Wallace (sister, 1815-1899), Levi Owen Todd (1817-1864), Ann Marie Todd Smith (sister, 1824-1891), George Rogers Clark Todd (brother, 1825-1902?), Margaret Todd Kellogg (half sister, 1828-1904), Samuel Brown Todd (half brother, 1830-1862), Martha K. Todd White (half sister, 1833-1868), Emilie Paret Todd Helm (half sister, 1836-1930), Elodie Breck Todd Dawson (half sister, 1840-1877), Catherine "Kitty" Bodley Todd Herr (half sister, 1841-1875), Robert Todd Lincoln (son, 1843-1926), Edward "Eddie" Baker Lincoln (son, 1846-1850), William Wallace "Willie" Lincoln (son, 1850-1862), Thomas "Tad" Lincoln (son, 1853-1871)
    Relation to Slavery
    White non-slaveholder
    Political Parties
    Residence in 1860
    Marital status in 1860

    Mary Lincoln, Character (American National Biography)

    In addition to her role as a mother and housewife, Lincoln was absorbed in politics and worked to promote her husband's career. She wrote patronage letters, advocated his election, and even followed legislative choices in his senatorial campaigns. After Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860, she ambitiously sought for herself the role of an influential first lady. Wearing stunning gowns and shawls, she tried to define American fashion. She tastefully renovated the White House, especially the downstairs public rooms, and entertained at parties designed to display to foreign ambassadors the power of the Union. She established an informal American salon, where public men and literary figures discussed the topics of the day. Besides these extensions of domestic roles, Lincoln sought a controversial voice in her husband's patronage appointments, including his cabinet…A vivacious belle in her youth, the short, plump Lincoln was an important and controversial first lady who expanded that role's authority. Stepping outside of the traditional female role of homemaker into the male-dominated world of public affairs, she was often criticized for her behavior. Extravagant, high-strung, and tempestuous, she nonetheless played an important role in her husband's ascent to the presidency and made the unpaid but demanding position of first lady into a post of influence.
    Jean H. Baker, "Lincoln, Mary Todd," American National Biography Online, February 2000,

    Mary Todd Lincoln, During the Civil War (American National Biography)

    Mary Lincoln's tenure as a first lady coincided with the Civil War. During her first days in the White House, when Confederate units were unopposed in northern Virginia, army officials encouraged her to leave the city, but she insisted on staying and even accompanied her husband on tours of the Washington defenses. Like many other women, she nursed soldiers in hospitals, often inscribing their dictated letters to relatives in the North. Lincoln was unusual in her commitment to raising money for the support of impoverished former slaves ("contraband"), who crowded into Washington. However, her good works never stilled the criticism of her extravagance when the allowance for the White House was exceeded, nor did she ever shake the gossip that, because her half brothers fought for the Confederacy, she was a spy.
    John H. Baker, "Lincoln, Mary Todd," American National Biography Online, February 2000,

    Mary Todd Lincoln (Dictionary of American Biography)

    During the presidency of her husband, Mrs. Lincoln, in what Stoddard called her “somewhat authoritative” way, gave special attention to levees and other social affairs. A Southern lady in the White House, she was subjected to criticism, much of which was gossip and malicious slander; certainly the imputations of disloyalty were unfounded. Even the touches of social gayety with which she relieved the strain of wartime anxiety were criticized as inappropriate. She suffered during the war by reason of divisions in her own family (her sister’s husband, Ben. H. Helm, being a Confederate general), and by the crushing bereavement of her son Willie’s death.
    Dumas Malone, ed., Dictionary of American Biography (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1961), 6: 266.

    Mary Todd Lincoln (Holloway, 1881)

    To Mrs. Lincoln more than to any other President's wife was the White House an ambition. She had ever aspired to reach it, and when it became her home, it was the fruition of a hope long entertained, the gratification of the great desire of her life. In her early youth she repeatedly asserted that she should be a President's wife, and so profoundly impressed was she with this idea, that she calculated the probabilities of such a success with all her male friends. She refused an offer of marriage from Stephen A. Douglas, then a rising young lawyer, doubting his ability to gratify her ambition, and accepted a man who at that time seemed to others the least likely to be the President of the United States.
    Laura C. Holloway, Ladies of the White House (Philadelphia: Bradley & Company, 1881), 526.
    Chicago Style Entry Link
    Ackerman, Monroe. "The Love Life of Abraham Lincoln." Lincoln Herald 104, no. 1 (2002): 10-26. view record
    Adams, Katherine. "Freedom and Ballgowns: Elizabeth Keckley and the Work of Domesticity." Arizona Quarterly 57, no. 4 (2001): 45-87. view record
    Bach, Jennifer L. "Acts of Remembrance: Mary Todd Lincoln and Her Husband's Memory." Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association 25, no. 2 (2004): 25-49. view record
    Bach, Jennifer. "Was Mary Todd Lincoln Bipolar?" Journal of Illinois History 8, no. 4 (2005): 281-294. view record
    Baker, Jean H. "Mary Todd Lincoln: Civil War First Lady." White House Studies 2, no. 1 (2002): 73-82. view record
    Baker, Jean H. Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography. New York: Norton, 1987. view record
    Bassett, Margaret Byrd. Abraham & Mary Todd Lincoln. New York: Cromwell, 1973. view record
    Berry, Stephen. House of Abraham: Lincoln and the Todds, A Family Divided by War. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007. view record
    Braden, Waldo W. "Mary Todd Lincoln's Missouri Relatives." Lincoln Herald 93, no. 2 (1991): 45-49. view record
    Burkhimer, Michael. "Mary Todd Lincoln: Political Partner?" Lincoln Herald 105, no. 2 (2003): 67-72. view record
    Clinton, Catherine. "Wife Versus Widow: Clashing Perspectives on Mary Lincoln's Legacy." Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association 28, no. 1 (2007): 1-19. view record
    Emerson, Jason. "Mary Todd Lincoln's Lost Letters." Civil War Times 46, no. 8 (2007): 54-60. view record
    Emerson, Jason. "The Madness of Mary Lincoln." American Heritage 57, no. 3 (2006): 56-63, 65. view record
    Emerson, Jason. The Madness of Mary Lincoln. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2007. view record
    Fleischner, Jennifer. Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Keckly: The Remarkable Story of the Friendship between a First Lady and a Former Slave. New York: Broadway Books, 2003. view record
    Hambly, Barbara. The Emancipator's Wife: A Novel of Mary Todd Lincoln. New York: Bantam Books, 2005. view record
    Hirschhorn, Norbert. "Mary Lincoln's 'Suicide Attempt:' A Physician Reconsiders the Evidence." Lincoln Herald 104, no. 3 (2003): 94-98. view record
    Hull, Mary. Mary Todd Lincoln: Tragic First Lady of the Civil War. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers, 2000. view record
    Laderman, Gary. "The Body Politic and the Politics of Two Bodies: Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln in Death." Prospects 22 (1997): 109-132. view record
    Leasher, Evelyn. "Lois Bryan Adams goes to Washington." Michigan History 79, no. 2 (1995): 38-41. view record
    Neely, Mark E., and Harold Holzer. "The Lincoln Family Album." American History Illustrated 25, no. 5 (1990): 44-61. view record
    Neely, Mark E., and R. Gerald McMurtry. The Insanity File: The Case of Mary Todd Lincoln. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1993. view record
    Newman, Janis Cooke. Mary: A Novel. San Francisco: MacAdam/Cage, 2006. view record
    Ostendorf, Lloyd. "A New Mary Todd Lincoln Photograph: A Tour of the White Mountains in Summer, 1863." Illinois Historical Journal 83, no. 2 (1990): 109-111. view record
    Ostendorf, Lloyd. "The Photographs of Mary Todd Lincoln." Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 61, no. 3 (1968): 269-332. view record
    Randall, Ruth Painter. Mary Lincoln: Biography of a Marriage. Boston: Little, Brown, 1935. view record
    Rinaldi, Ann. An Unlikely Friendship: A Novel of Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 2007. view record
    Ross, Ishbel. The President's Wife: Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography. New York: Putnam, 1973. view record
    Sandburg, Carl, and Paul M. Angle. Mary Lincoln: Wife and Widow. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1932. view record
    Schreiner, Samuel Agnew. The Trials of Mrs. Lincoln: The Harrowing Never-Before-Told Story of Mary Todd Lincoln's Last and Finest Years. New York: D.I. Fine, 1987. view record
    Schwartz, Thomas F. "Mary Todd's 1835 Visit to Springfield, Illinois." Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association 26, no. 1 (2005): 42-45. view record
    Simmons, Dawn Langley. A Rose for Mrs. Lincoln: A Biography of Mary Todd Lincoln. Boston: Beacon Press, 1970. view record
    Stone, Irving. Love is Eternal: A Novel about Mary Todd Lincoln and Abraham Lincoln. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1954. view record
    Van der Heuvel, Gerry. Crowns of Thorns and Glory: Mary Todd Lincoln and Varina Howell Davis, the Two First Ladies of the Civil War. New York: Dutton, 1988. view record
    Williams, Frank J. "Mary Todd Lincoln "On the Wing of Expectation:" Wife, Mother, and Political Partner." Lincoln Herald 102, no. 4 (2000): 168-176. view record
    Wilson, Douglas L. "Abraham Lincoln and 'That Fatal First of January.'" Civil War History 38, no. 2 (1992): 101-130. view record
    Wilson, Douglas L. "William H. Herndon and Mary Todd Lincoln." Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association 22, no. 2 (2001): 1-26. view record
    Winkler, H. Donald. The Women in Lincoln's Life. Nashville: Rutledge Hill Press, 2001. view record
    How to Cite This Page: "Lincoln, Mary Todd," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,