Mary Todd Lincoln was the wife of the sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, and was First Lady of the United States from.
The daughter of Eliza Parker and Robert Smith Todd, Mary was born on December 12, 1813, in Lexington, Kentucky. Her parents, pioneer settlers of Kentucky, were local aristocrats, and while she was growing up, she enjoyed a spirited social life and a private education. She loved dancing, fine clothes, and riding horses. She came in contact with politicians at an early age. Her family was well acquainted with Henry Clay, a famous American statesman who ran for president in 1832, when Mary was fourteen.
After she turned sixteen, Mary moved to Springfield, Illinois, to stay with her married sister, Ninian. Springfield became the state capital at about the same time, and it offered a lively social scene that she enjoyed. She also seemed to be husband-hunting, and she was courted by several suitors, including Stephen Douglas - the man her future husband, Abraham Lincoln, would later face in races for the senate and for the presidency.
When Lincoln was elected president in 1860, she looked forward to being a leader in social circles - Journeying to Washington through twelve states, the Lincolns were greeted by noisy and high-spirited crowds at seemingly every stop, and Mary’s spirits were primed for good times ahead. However, Southern states opposed to Lincoln’s antislavery views (which Mary shared) had already begun seceding from the Union. The Lincolns entrance into the capital - under tight security and under cover of darkness - was a forbidding omen of things to come.
Lincoln had always been a casual man. As a lawyer in Illinois, he occasionally ended a day in court by placing important documents inside his stovepipe hat for safekeeping. Mary had much more of a formal social sense, and it showed in her elaborate Washington parties - Her years as first lady were marked by shopping sprees (she once bought more than three hundred pairs of gloves in just four months, and she spent $27,000 on “trifles” during 1864 alone); visits to the war wounded in military hospitals; and problems with her temper, which occasionally brought on migraine headaches.
Mrs. Lincoln was also an adherent of spiritualism, believing the living could be in contact with the dead.