Metro   City

Mary Todd Lincoln House

Thank You! Your rating has been saved.

Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of the sixteenth president of the United States, was born in Lexington, Kentucky, on December 13, 1818. The fourth of sixteen children, Mary was daughter to one of the town's wealthier and more prominent men, Robert Smith Todd. A businessman and politician, Todd provided his children from two marriages with the social standing and material advantages Abraham Lincoln lacked in his own youth.

Although a town of less than seven thousand residents in the 1830s, Lexington was compared to Philadelphia and Boston in its wealth and cosmopolitan sophistication. Mary moved in the highest levels of Bluegrass society and acquired an extensive education from Frenchwoman Madame Charlotte Mentelle. At her father's large home on Main Street, maintained by household slaves, Mary mingled with influential political guests. The most prominent of these was Senator Henry Clay, three-time presidential candidate and leader of the young Whig party. Clay, a family friend, resided less than two miles from the Todds. He once promised young Mary she would be among his first guests in Washington should he become president. Mary Todd's path to the White House, however, ran in a different course.

In 1832, Mary's older sister Elizabeth married the son of a former governor of Illinois. After his graduation from Lexington's Transylvania University, Ninian Edwards moved with Elizabeth to Springfield, which soon became Illinois' new state capital. Mary followed in 1839. At a dance she met a junior partner in cousin John Todd Stuart's law firm, Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln and Mary Todd were a study in contrasts. Nine years older, Lincoln came from a comparatively poor and undistinguished background. He was socially awkward, with less than two years of formal education. Her vivacity and occasional flashes of the "Todd temper" was in marked contrast to his self-deprecating personality. Yet many things brought them together, including a love of poetry, literature, and a deep interest in Whig politics. Mary recognized Lincoln's intellectual depth and political ambition before many others did. They wed in November, 1842.

In marrying Lincoln, Mary exchanged her life of relative ease and privilege for that of a working lawyer's wife. While he was gone for extended periods riding circuit, she was doing much of the household labor and raising four sons. But Mary continued to advance her husband's political career. He valued her judgment and once observed he had no reason to read a book after Mary had reviewed it for him. Still, Lincoln's career progressed slowly. One term in Congress came amidst several failures to gain his party's nomination for political office. Defeat in a race for the United States Senate in 1858 came at the hands of Mary's former suitor, Stephen A. Douglas. Yet as the division between the northern and southern sections of the country widened, Lincoln's much admired speeches on limiting the spread of slavery while preserving the union secured him election as the nation's first Republican president in 1860.

Explore Related Categories

Details and Specs

Hours of Operation: Not Listed
Notes: None Listed
HOURS:March 15- Nov. 30 Mon. - Sat. (closed Sun.) Tours 10AM-3PM (closes 4PM) Tours last approximately one hour. We recommend visitors allow extra time to visit our garden and museum store.


Be the first to add a review for this item.

Please write a review for this item

Send a Message