By Kenneth J. Winkle
In the Springfield, Illinois parlor of Ninian W. & Elizabeth (Todd) Edwards, Abraham Lincoln and Mary Ann Todd were married on Friday evening, November 4, 1842 in a ceremony officiated by the Reverend Charles N. Dresser. A week later Lincoln wrote to a friend, Samuel D. Marshall, “Nothing new here, except my marrying, which to me, is a matter of profound wonder."
The relationship between Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln has been the subject of rumor, speculation and conjecture since they met, and it continues even into the present. As part of the Concise Lincoln Library author Kenneth J. Winkle adds his name to the ever growing list of those who have written about their relationship with his tiny tome Abraham and Mary Lincoln.
There is no doubt that the Lincoln’s relationship had its stormy and tempestuous times. What relationship doesn’t? Mr. Winkle takes a step back from the traditional interpretation of the relationship between Abraham and Mary, and slightly softens it. Though the “hellcat,” as John Hay frequently referred to Mary Lincoln, does appear from time to time.
The Lincoln’s symbiotic relationship was that of opposites; he the unrefined man from the backwoods and she the genteel aristocrat. Their backgrounds and personalities complimented the other. They both saw a future in politics, and both worked in their own way to secure that future. Together they slowly worked their way up the political ladder from the Illinois Legislature, to the United States House of Representatives, and finally to the Presidency of the United States. They each played their roles perfectly.
Mr. Winkle’s linear narrative covers the early lives of both Lincolns, their courtship and marriage, and through their years at the White House. The final chapter of Abraham and Mary Lincoln covers Mary’s life after the assassination of her husband until her death on July 16, 1882.
Abraham and Mary Lincoln doesn’t contain anything new as per the historical record of their relationship, but Mr. Winkle does reinterpret the remaining evidence to draw a new conclusion: the Lincoln home was a house united, though it may have at times trembled in conflict, it was with love and mutual ambition.
ISBN 978-0809330492, Southern Illinois University Press, © 2011, Hardcover, 160 pages, Photographs, Essay on Sources, Bibliography & Index. $19.95