Mary Todd was born to an affluent Kentucky family and received a genteel education at private academies near Lexington. She met Abraham Lincoln in 1839 in Springfield, Illinois, at the home of her sister and brother-in-law. Though Lincoln's lack of social position aroused their objections, she became engaged to the ambitious lawyer, and they married in 1842. Mary Todd Lincoln lived happily in Springfield, as her husband rose in the ranks of the Whig Party. She enthusiastically supported her husband's presidential ambitions, yet as first lady she found herself constantly under attack. She disappointed southerners, who felt betrayed by her opposition to slavery; northerners distrusted her; and many of Lincoln's colleagues disliked her. Unfriendly memoirs describe her temper, her extravagance, and her sarcasm, but Lincoln's own letters show a consistent, affectionate regard for his wife and family. This portrait was made in Brady's studio around 1863, when Mrs. Lincoln was still in mourning for her son Willie, who had died in the White House in February 1862.
Mary Todd Lincoln
1818 - 1882
Mathew Brady Studio
Albumen silver print
(carte de visite), circa 1863
8.6 x 5.3 cm ( 3 3/8 x 2 1/8 inches)
National Portrait Gallery,
Smithsonian Institution,
Washington, D.C.