Letter from Dec. 4, 1865

Mary Todd Lincoln to Dr. Josiah G. Holland

  • Full Title

    Mary Todd Lincoln to Dr. Josiah G. Holland

  • Description

    A letter from Mary Todd Lincoln to Dr. Josiah G. Holland after receiving a copy of Holland's biography of her husband, the Life of Abraham Lincoln.

  • Transcription

    Chicago Dec 4th 1865
    Private –
    Dr. J. G. Holland
    My dear Sir:
    The Biography of my deeply lamented husband, which you have so kindly sent me, has been received and read, with very great interest. After a careful perusal of the work, I find the statements, in most instances, so very correct, that I feel quite surprised, as to the extent of your minute information. From the description of my husband, early struggles, which he has, so frequently described to me, to the foolish and uncalled for rencontre, with Gen Shields, all are truthfully portrayed.
    It is exceedingly painful to me, now suffering under such an overwhelming bereavement, to recall that happy time my beloved husband had so entirely devoted himself to one, for two years before my marriage, that I doubted trespassed, many times & oft, upon his great tenderness & amiability of character. There never existed a more loving & devoted husband & such a Father, has seldom been bestowed on children. Crushed and bowed to the earth, with our great great sorrow, for the sake of my poor afflicted boys, I have to strive to live on, and comfort them, as well as I can. You are aware that with all the President’s deep feeling, he was not a demonstrative man, when he felt most deeply, he expressed the least. There are some very good persons who are inclined to magnify conversations & incidents, connected with their slight acquaintance with this great & good man. For instance, the purported conversations This last event, occurred about six months before our marriage, when, Mr. Lincoln thought he had some right to assume to be my champion, even on frivolous occasions. The poor Gent, in our little gay circle, was oftentimes, the subject of mirth & even song. And we were then surrounded by several of those, who have since been appreciated by the world. The Gent was very impulsive & on the occasion referred to, had placed himself before us, in so ridiculous a light, that the love of the ludicrous had been excited within me & I pressure, I gave vent to it, in some very silly levies. After the reconciliation between the contending parties Mr L & myself mutually agreed never to refer to it & except in an occasional light manner, between us, it was never mentioned. I am surprised at so distant a day, you should have ever heard of the circumstance.
    Between the President & the Hospital nurse, it was not his nature to commit his griefs and religious feelings so fully to words & that with an entire stranger. Even between ourselves, when our deep & touching sorrows were one & the same, his expressions were few – Also the lengthy account of the lady who very wisely persisted in claiming a hospital for her State, my husband never had the time to discuss these matters, so lengthily to any person or persons-- too many of them came daily in review before him – And again, I cannot understand how strangely his temper could be at so complete a variance from what it always was, in the home circle. There he was always so gentle & kind. Before closing this long letter which I fear will weary you, ___ you get through it – allow me again to assure you of the great satisfaction the perusal of your Memoirs have given me.
    I remain very truly and gratefully,
    Mary Lincoln

    [Transcription by Susan Brady Carr]

  • Source

    Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

  • Rights

    This item is in the public domain and may be reproduced and used for any purpose, including research, teaching, private study, publication, broadcast or commercial use, with proper citation and attribution.

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  • Cite this Item

    Mary Todd Lincoln. "Mary Todd Lincoln to Dr. Josiah G. Holland". Remembering Lincoln. Web. Accessed February 25, 2024. https://rememberinglincoln.fords.org/node/1179