By Justin G. Turner, and Linda Levitt Turner, with an introduction by Fawn M. Brodie. Published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1972. First Edition. Hardcover with illustrated dust jacket. 750 pages, with bibliography, index, and illustrations. The book is in very nice condition, it is tight and clean, with some very minor foxing to the page ends, and very minor wear to the dust jacket. Very desirable subject matter regarding the life of this independent thinking Kentucky belle who would become the wife of Abe Lincoln & ultimately the first lady of the United States. A must have for any Lincoln collector!
From her exuberant girlhood, she was courted by both Abraham Lincoln, and his rival, Stephen A. Douglas, through the White House years, to the bleak wanderings of her widowhood, here, for the first time, is the authentic voice of one of the most misunderstood figures in our history-Abraham Lincoln's wife.
All her available letters (609), of which more than half have never before been published, are now brought together. They span forty-two years; they are addressed not only to her husband, children, and friends, but also to such historical figures as Edwin M. Stanton, Charles Sumner, General Ulysses S. Grant, and Queen Victoria. They have been gathered from archives and attics, and are interwoven with an authoritative, intensely human biographical narrative in a book that shatters the distorted image, indeed caricature, that is the Mary Todd Lincoln of popular myth.
In letter after letter, the real woman emerges; the sought after belle with a mind of her own who married a poor nobody against her family's wishes; the young bride, accustomed to luxury, trying to make a home in one room of a public inn; the indulgent mother, run ragged by her growing brood of boys; the ambitious helpmate of an equally ambitious young lawyer, legislator, congressman-entertaining for him, giving him company, and shrewd opinions on speaking trips throughout the country.
And then, Mrs. President Lincoln, stunned by the hostility of Washington society; letting fly at Cabinet members; meddling in political appointments and military affairs; outdoing all previous First Ladies in grandeur, and piling up huge debts for clothes, jewels, and furnishings; presiding over her salon in the Blue Room with wit and grace, but failing to notice that it was filled with sycophants eager to make use of her. And the private Mary Lincoln, beset by personal tragedies, by the death of sons, by the Confederate allegiance of most of her family, by periods of psychic disturbance and breakdowns, yet all the while trying to cheer and ease her burdened and moody husband. Finally-the ultimate tragedy, the assassination. And the widow, ignored, sick, and weak, pursued by creditors, fighting for many years to get even a small pension, fleeing to foreign lands to escape the ridicule of the vampire press, asking, can life be endured.
Like the woman herself, her letters by turn charm, amuse, infuriate, and command passion-in a book that provide an important new source for historians, and at long last give Mary Todd Lincoln her own day in court.