DEAD: Mary Todd Lincoln

DEAD: ON THIS DATE

Mary Todd Lincoln (aged 63)
Wife of Abraham Lincoln and First Lady of the United States

Mary Todd Lincoln (December 13, 1818 – July 16, 1882) was the wife of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, and as such the First Lady of the United States from 1861 to 1865. She dropped the name Ann after her younger sister, Ann Todd (Clark), was born, and did not use the name Todd after marrying.

DEATH: The death of her son Thomas (Tad) in July 1871, following the death of two of her other sons and her husband, brought on an overpowering grief and depression. Her surviving son, Robert Lincoln, a rising young Chicago lawyer, was alarmed at his mother’s increasingly erratic behavior. In March 1875, during a visit to Jacksonville, Florida, Mary became unshakably convinced that Robert was deathly ill; hurrying to Chicago, she found him healthy. During her visit with him, she told him that someone had tried to poison her on the train and that a “wandering Jew” had taken her pocketbook but returned it later. She also spent large amounts of money there on items she never used, such as draperies and elaborate dresses (she wore only black after her husband’s assassination). She walked around the city with $56,000 in government bonds sewn into her petticoats (underskirts). Despite this large amount of money and the $3,000-a-year stipend from Congress, Mrs. Lincoln had an irrational fear of poverty.

During the early 1880s, Mary Lincoln was confined to the Springfield, Illinois residence of her sister Elizabeth Edwards. On July 15, 1882, exactly eleven years after her youngest son died, she collapsed at her sister’s home, lapsed into a coma, and died the next morning of a stroke at age 63.

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