The Other Side of Mary Lincoln – Part 1

By Jewett E. Ricker Jr.

At the very beginning I wish to make it clear that I feel it presumptuous of me to talk on the subject of Mary Lincoln. I certainly make no claims of being qualified to do so. Indeed, there is only one thing that impelled me to accept Mrs. Wilhelmi’s kind invitation. That was a desire to set right—as far as it is possible for me to do so—some of the erroneous ideas that are prevalent today in regard to the wife of Abraham Lincoln. Some historians have dealt very maliciously with the character, and particularly with the eccentricities, of this lady who presided over the White House during the most troublous period of our history. There had unquestionably been some basis for the criticisms that have been leveled at her, but—as is usually the case—the good qualities of Mrs. Lincoln have been almost ignored. Fortunately in recent years some historians—such as Carl Sandburg, William E. Barton and Dr. William A. Evans—have taken the trouble to explore the facts concerning Mrs. Lincoln and have brought forth some very excellent, and very fair biographies about her. It was my good fortune to know Mr. Barton very well and to talk with both him and Dr. Evans about their findings. While they both admitted her frailties and eccentricities, they both agreed that there were many fine points in her character and they both expressed the opinion that few women in history have been more unjustly maligned.

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