Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mrs. Lincoln

Mrs. Lincoln, A Life by Catherine Clinton is a study of the life of this enigmatic First Lady. Many contemporary references portray Mary Todd Lincoln as a spoiled egomaniac who dabbled in spiritism and flirted with insanity (in fact, at one point, her oldest and only surviving son, Robert, had her institutionalized). Clinton takes a more understanding approach to Mrs. Lincoln than do some writers. At the same time, she does not ignore the intricacies of this woman’s psyche.

Clinton draws back the curtain on Mary Todd Lincoln’s life and times. Mary Lincoln had ambitious dreams for husband. His election to the presidency was a personal victory for her. However, before he was inaugurated, states began to secede from the Union in protest to his election. This was quite a blow to this woman who had been raised and educated as a true southern lady. Add to this the death of a son and the assassination of her husband and her mental condition becomes more explicable.

Mary Lincoln was a persevering woman who stood by her husband during extraordinarily difficult times. She was also manipulative and ruthless in dealing with those she considered to be political rivals or enemies.

This is an informative glimpse into the complicated life of a complex person.



No comments: