While Mary Lincoln wept, robbers in the White House crept

Mary Lincoln in later life (picture from Civil War Times Illustrated, August 1976)

 

 

Carl Sandburg tells about it in his book: Mary Lincoln Wife And Widow.  While she was in deep grief over the murder of her husband Abraham Lincoln,  robbers literally helped themselves to White House items.  She was mourning upstairs-having shut herself off from all except a few who waited on her. Sandburg tells it this way:

“While she was shut in with her woe, the White House was left without a responsible protector. The rabble ranged through it all. Silver and dining-ware carried off, and have never been recovered. It was plundered, not only of ornaments, but of heavy articles of furniture. Costly sofas and chairs were cut and injured. Exquisite lace curtains were torn into rags, and carried into pieces. While all this was going on downstairs, Mrs. Lincoln in her apartments upstairs refused to see anyone but servants…”

What made the situation worse for Mary was that some accused her of taking the stolen items as she was packing to leave the White House.  A very cruel situation, indeed. In summing up Mrs. Lincoln’s life, Sandburg writes in the book’s Prologue:

“She lived, suffered, laughed, wept, sat in candlelight and shadows, and passed out from the light of the living sun.”

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