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Old March 25th, 2013, 03:43 PM   #41

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The story of Mary chasing her hubby with a knife seems fishy. Do we have records that say she did this? Why did she do this? Was she seriously trying to kill him, or was it just "I'MMA SCARE YOU! RAAAAAGGHH!"?

And why did she not like Mrs. Grant?
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Old March 25th, 2013, 04:16 PM   #42

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Quote:
Originally Posted by HistoryFreak1912 View Post
The story of Mary chasing her hubby with a knife seems fishy. Do we have records that say she did this?
I've heard the knife story for years and have only glossed over it.
Oft times a lie can be told so many times that it just gets accepted.
I don't know where that story came from, maybe from the neighbor
who lived behind them, Mr. James Gourley. If it did come from him,
then the quizative nature in me would want to investigate Gourley to
see what his angle might be.
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Old March 25th, 2013, 07:31 PM   #43

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she was not passionate, she was violent and uncontrolled. honestly, it's staggering the way violence seems to be acceptable if it is a woman who is the violent one. imagine the outrage there would be if stories were uncovered about Lincoln throwing scalding hot coffee in his wife's face, hitting her, and chasing her with a knife.
Domestic violence was more tolerated back then, especially when the man did it. Nevertheless, the Lincolns also enjoyed each other and got a lot of mutual support in an ugly and stressful time. It's way too one-dimensional to focus on Mary's mercurial moods. Abe had his too, but he lapsed into gloom and doom. Mary's were externalized. While she alienated almost everybody around her, she and Abe managed to get along until his death.
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Old March 25th, 2013, 07:43 PM   #44

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....All I can think of is that he just loved her too much to send her to some asylum. What were asylums like back then? What was the medical treatment like for the crazed? I suspect he didn't want to subject her to someone she wouldn't know, who would do things she would probably not like, so he decided to keep her with him. She'd be in a familiar setting, with the man she loved, and if she went off, he'd be there to reel her back in....
Abe would never have had her put in an asylum. Those places were somewhere between prisons and chambers of horror until well into the 20th century. They had not the slightest idea of what mental illness was, much less how to treat it. Years later, her son Robert did have her put away for a time around 1875, but it was a private institution that was better than the usual for the time. By that time she had deteriorated markedly, was somewhat paranoid and was in failing health as well. She was out in about a year in the custody of her sister, but spent most of her remaining years in France. This poor woman really had a tragic life, having lost another son (Tad) several years after having had her husband's brains splattered all over her clothes in Ford's Theater and having lost two other sons earlier. She also alienated her surviving son Robert. History has not been kind to Mary Lincoln, but if you read her story, it really is sad.

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Old March 25th, 2013, 10:24 PM   #45

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she was also a thief. According to That's Not in My American History Book 'she ran up astronomical bills on the White House expense account. among items she purchased at government expense were 300 pairs of expensive kid gloves. at a time when union soldiers were fighting and dying for 300 dollars a month, Mrs Lincoln was purchasing dresses that cost up to 2,000 dollars each. And when she left the White House, she took just about anything that was not nailed down.'
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Old March 26th, 2013, 02:28 AM   #46

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The story of Mary chasing her hubby with a knife seems fishy. Do we have records that say she did this?
Very good questions. Too many people are happy to just accept the rumor and pass it along. I don't recall seeing any evidence of this one either, but I'm open to it if anybody has any.


Quote:
And why did she not like Mrs. Grant?
I don't recall that Mrs. Lincoln didn't like Mrs. Grant (any more than she disliked most women), but Mrs. Grant definitely disliked Mrs. Lincoln. And for good reason. Mrs. Grant was present at one of Mrs. Lincoln's most famous jealous tantrums (and this one is well documented).
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Old March 26th, 2013, 02:50 AM   #47

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she was also a thief. According to That's Not in My American History Book 'she ran up astronomical bills on the White House expense account. among items she purchased at government expense were 300 pairs of expensive kid gloves. at a time when union soldiers were fighting and dying for 300 dollars a month, Mrs Lincoln was purchasing dresses that cost up to 2,000 dollars each. And when she left the White House, she took just about anything that was not nailed down.'
She did run up huge debts that she couldn't afford, but she didn't steal from the White House when she left it. According to Elizabeth Keckley, who I mentioned earlier, and who was there when she left the White House and accompanied her on the journey to Illinois:

Quote:
There was much surmise, when Mrs. Lincoln left the White House, what her fifty or sixty boxes, not to count her score of trunks, could contain. Had the government not been so liberal in furnishing the boxes, it is possible that there would have been less demand for so much transportation. The boxes were loosely packed, and many of them with articles not worth carrying away. Mrs. Lincoln had a passion for hoarding old things...

The children, as well as herself, had received a vast number of presents during Mr. Lincoln's administration, and these presents constituted a large item in the contents of the boxes. The only article of furniture, so far as I know, taken away from the White House by Mrs. Lincoln, was a little dressing-stand used by the President... Another stand, I must not forget to add, was put in its place.

Source: Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House - Elizabeth Keckley - Google Books
She goes on to tell how Mrs. Lincoln ended up giving away many of the items to charity, and eventually tried to pawn off many other items, as she was pretty much broke. It's very interesting reading and I'd encourage everyone to take a look at the source link I provided.

Last edited by Rongo; March 26th, 2013 at 02:57 AM.
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Old March 26th, 2013, 04:40 AM   #48

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Speaking of First Ladies, not all were loved, respected and were hard to deal with. I've
heard Mrs. Monroe, Mrs. Taylor and Mrs. Truman were hard to deal with.
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Old March 26th, 2013, 06:55 AM   #49

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she was also a thief. According to That's Not in My American History Book 'she ran up astronomical bills on the White House expense account. among items she purchased at government expense were 300 pairs of expensive kid gloves. at a time when union soldiers were fighting and dying for 300 dollars a month, Mrs Lincoln was purchasing dresses that cost up to 2,000 dollars each. And when she left the White House, she took just about anything that was not nailed down.'

that should have been 13 dollars a month for Union soldiers, not 300.
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Old March 26th, 2013, 05:18 PM   #50

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I felt like typing tonight (), so here's some excerpts from letters from, to, and about Mary Lincoln from Elizabeth Keckley's book. As I mentioned before, Mrs. Keckley was an ex-slave who became Mary Lincoln's best friend. These letters were written in 1867 and 1868, at a time when Mrs. Lincoln was trying to pawn off her wardrobes and jewelry. Mrs. Keckley did all she could to help, and enlisted the support of Frederick Douglass, among others. The first letters I'll quote are from him to Mrs. Keckley:

Quote:
It is due Mrs. Lincoln that she should be indemnified, as far as money can do so, for the loss of her beloved husband. Honor, gratitude, and a manly symnpathy, all say yes to this... It was the hand of Abraham Lincoln that broke the fetters of our enslaved people, and let them out of the house of bondage. When he was slain, our great benefactor fell, and left his wife and children to the care of those for whom he gave up all...

- Fredrerick Douglass, October 29, 1867

I thank you sincerely for the note containing a published letter of dear Mrs. Lincoln; both letters do credit to the excellent lady. I prize her beautiful letter to me very highly. It is the letter of a refined and spirited lady, let the world say what it will of her... Mr. Lincoln did everything for the black man, but he did it not for the black man's sake, but for the nation's sake. His life was given for the nation; but for being President, Mr. Lincoln would have been alive, and Mrs. Lincoln would have been a wife, and not a widow as now. Do all you can, Mrs. Keckley - nobody can do more than you in removing the mountains of prejudice towards that good lady, and opening the way of success in the plan.

- Frederick Douglass, November 10, 1867
These next excerpts are from letters from Mrs. Lincoln to Mrs. Keckley:

Quote:
I pray for death this morning. Only my darling Taddie prevents my taking my life. I shall have to endure a round of newspaper abuse from the Republicans because I dared venture to relieve a few of my wants... I am nearly losing my reason.

- Mary Lincoln, October 6, 1867

A piece in the morning Tribune, signed 'B', pretending to be a lady, says there is no doubt Mrs. L. - is deranged - has been for years past, and will end her life in a lunatic asylum. They would doubtless like me to begin it now... Pray for me, dear Lizzie, for I am very miserable and broken-hearted.

- Mary Lincoln, October 9, 1867

In this morning's Tribune there was a little article evidently designed to make capital against me just now - that three of my brothers were in the Southern army during the war. If they had been friendly with me they might have said they were half brothers of Mrs. L., whom she had not known since they were infants; and as she left Kentucky at an early age her sympathies were entirely Republican - that her feelings were entirely with the North during the war, and always. I never failed to urge my husband to an extreme Republican, and now, in the day of my trouble, you see how this very party is trying to work against me.

- Mary Lincoln, October 29, 1867

I have dwelt too long on this painful subject, but when I have been compelled from a pitiful income to make a boarding-house of my home, as I now am doing, think you that it does not rankle my heart. Fortunately, with my husband's great, great love for me - the knowledge of this future for his petted and idolized wife was spared him, and yet I feel in my heart he knows it all.

- Mary Lincoln, November 15, 1867
This last excerpt is from a letter from Mrs. Keckley to Wilberforce University, a college owned and operated by African Americans, and where her son was educated before he went off to fight (and die) in the Civil War:

Quote:
Allow me to donate certain valuable relics, to be exhibited for the benefit of Wilberforce University, where my son was educated, and whose life was sacrificed for liberty. These sacred relics were presented to me by Mrs. Lincoln, after the assassination of our beloved President. Learning that you were struggling to get means to complete the college that was burned on the day our great emancipator was assassinated, prompted me to donate... the identical cloak and bonnet worn by Mrs. Lincoln on that eventful night. On the cloak can be seen the life-blood of Abraham Lincoln. This cloak could not be purchased from me, though many have been the offers for it. I deemed it too sacred to sell, but donate it for the cause of educating the four millions of slaves liberated by our President, whose private character I revere. You will know that I had every chance to learn the true man, being constantly in the White House during his whole administration.

- Elizabeth Keckley, January 1, 1868
Source: Behind the Scenes Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House - Elizabeth Keckley - Google Books

Last edited by Rongo; March 26th, 2013 at 05:26 PM.
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