Much has been said and written about the madness of Mary Todd Lincoln but I’m thinking today about her sadness. Everyone pretty much agrees that Mrs. Lincoln went insane. Abraham Lincoln seemed to be aware of it. He once told her, after the death of their son Willie, that if she didn’t try and control her grief, she might have to be sent to an asylum. Mary exhibited many signs of her gradual insanity: the sudden unexpected and unpredicted fits of rage, her obsessive shopping sprees ( during a 3 month period she purchased 300 hundred pairs of gloves), and episodes of deep depression and weeping. Eventually, she was committed to a private sanitarium (in Batavia, Illinois).
Mary Lincoln was a pathetic person who deserved much sympathy. Unfortunately during her lifetime, especially her later years, there was very little sympathy given her. Her erratic behaviors had so damaged her standing in the public’s eyes that she was much disfavored. Even today when people speak of Mary Todd Lincoln they mention that she was “crazy”- with little or nothing else to say of her sadness.
Consider this: Mary Lincoln was mentally ill. She didn’t cause it but she did endure it. As a mother, she lived to see three sons die. That had to be so hard. In the Civil War, she lost several family members to death. Then she had her husband murdered. To make it worse, she was sitting next to him when he was shot (PTSD?). In her later years, she suffered from serious medical problems including diabetes.
Of course, it was Mr. Lincoln’s death that she never recovered from. It is said that she wore mourning black for the rest of her life after his assassination. She, herself, longed for death so that she could be with him. She was suicidal at times. In 1882, she returned to Springfield. She was almost blind by then. She was also partially paralyzed. She went to live with her sister in the house she had married Abraham so long before. She mostly kept herself isolated. She didn’t have company or visitors. On July 15, 1882 she died. She was 64 years old. She finally got her wish…
Yes, I’m thinking of the sadness of Mary Todd Lincoln today. I’m thinking she was quite a person. In spite of her physical and mental problems-in spite of her great losses, in spite of a public that didn’t really understand her or have sympathy for her- she endured it all. She had her good times to be sure. But I think over all, she was a very sad person. She didn’t end well-and that’s truly sad.Mail this post