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THE DAY MISS TODD BECAME MRS. LINCOLN

The photograph to the left is the Edwards' home in Springfield where the Lincolns were married. The photograph to the right is the Edwards' parlor where the marriage ceremony took place. Source: The Women Lincoln Loved by William E. Barton.
Mary Todd moved from Lexington, Kentucky, to Springfield, Illinois, in the fall of 1839. Not quite 21 years of age, Mary moved into the home of her older sister, Mrs. Ninian Edwards. Shortly thereafter, at a cotillion, Abraham Lincoln, 30, came up and said to her, "Miss Todd, I want to dance with you the worst way." The very next evening, Abraham called on her at the Edwards' home. Over the next few years Mary became engaged to Abraham (though not formally announced), broke up with him, entered a period of separation and misunderstanding, and finally began seeing him again (with the help of mutual friends, Mr. and Mrs. Simeon Francis). In the fall of 1842, the couple decided to be married.
Neither Mary nor Abraham wanted a big wedding. The couple wanted a small, quiet ceremony. Their preference was to have the marriage performed at the home of Reverend Charles N. Dresser, an Episcopal minister. Reverend Dresser owned the home that the Lincolns later purchased in 1844.

Sometime before the wedding, Abraham visited Chatterton's jewelry shop located on the west side of the square in Springfield. He ordered a gold wedding ring. Mary and Abraham had agreed that the words "Love is Eternal" were to be engraved therein. (It has also been reported that the entire inscription read "A.L. to Mary, Nov. 4, 1842. Love is Eternal.")

On the morning of Thursday, November 3, 1842, Abraham dropped by Reverend Dresser's home. The Dresser family was still at breakfast when Abraham announced, "I want to get hitched tonight." Reverend Dresser agreed to the arrangement.

After leaving the Dresser residence, Abraham happened to meet Ninian Edwards in the street. He told Mr. Edwards of the plans for the marriage. Mr. Edwards replied, "No, I am Mary's guardian and if she is married at all it must be from my house." When Elizabeth Edwards was informed of the plans, it was decided that the marriage would be delayed by one day as the Episcopal sewing society was meeting at the Edwards' home that night and the supper had already been ordered.

Thus, Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd were married at the Edwards' home on Friday evening, November 4, 1842. About 30 relatives and friends, all hastily invited, attended the ceremony which was conducted by Reverend Dresser who was wearing canonical robes. Mary wore a lovely white muslin dress. She wore neither a veil nor flowers in her hair.

Mary's bridesmaids were Julia M. Jayne (in 1843 she married Lyman Trumbull who later became a U.S. Senator), Anna Caesaria Rodney, and Miss Elizabeth Todd. Abraham's best man was James Harvey Matheny, 24, who was a close friend and worked at the circuit court office in Springfield. Matheny was asked by Lincoln to be best man on the day of the wedding!

Reverend Dresser used "The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony" from a book entitled The Book of Common Prayer According to the Use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States (Philadelphia, Carey & Hart, 1836). Standing behind Abraham during the ceremony was Judge Thomas C. Browne of the Illinois Supreme Court. Browne was a blunt man not accustomed to weddings. As Abraham was putting the wedding ring on Mary's hand and repeating the words, "With this ring I thee endow with all my goods, chattels, lands, and tenements," Browne impatiently blurted out, "God Almighty, Lincoln, the statute fixes all that." After a brief delay following Browne's interruption, the ceremony was completed as rain poured outside. Judge Browne was once impeached for feeblemindedness after a hearing in the Springfield courthouse.

A week after the marriage, on November 11, 1842, Abraham wrote a letter to a friend, Samuel D. Marshall. Most of the letter dealt with legal matters, but Abraham closed the letter with the following sentence: "Nothing new here, except my marrying, which to me, is a matter of profound wonder."

MARRIED - In this city on the 4th instant, at the residence of N.W. Edwards, Esq., by Rev. C. Dresser, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Esq., to Miss MARY TODD, daughter of Robert Todd, Esq., of Lexington, Ky.
Announcement on page 3 of the Sangamo Journal, November 11, 1842 (published on Fridays).
After the marriage ceremony was completed everyone was jovial and merriment followed. Supper was served on a long table with a linen cover embroidered with a turtledove design. The wedding cake was cut and pleasant socializing continued into the evening. Finally, it was time for the newlyweds to leave. On a dark, rainy night, they left to live in the Globe Tavern, a very ordinary Springfield boardinghouse made of wood and two stories high. Sarah Beck (widow of James Beck) operated the Globe Tavern. There the young couple occupied a second floor room (only 8 by 14 feet) and ate their meals in the common dining room. The cost was $4 a week. It was here at the Globe Tavern where the couple's first son, Robert, was born on August 1, 1843. In the fall of 1843 the Lincolns moved from the Globe Tavern and rented a small, three-room frame cottage at 214 South Fourth Street (rent: $100 a year). Early in 1844 they purchased their permanent home on the corner of Eighth and Jackson.

EARLY RESIDENCES OF THE LINCOLNS: The photograph to the left is the Globe Tavern (Illinois State Historical Library photograph). The drawing to the right is the frame, three-room cottage where the Lincolns lived for a short time before purchasing their home at the corner of Eighth and Jackson. The drawing is from Mrs. Abraham Lincoln by W.A. Evans.

The photographs of the Lincolns on this page were taken in Springfield in 1846. They are the earliest known ones. For more information on the courtship of Abraham and Mary, see Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography by Jean H. Baker, The Women Lincoln Loved by William E. Barton, Mrs. Abraham Lincoln by W.A. Evans, The True Story of Mary, Wife of Lincoln by Katherine Helm, The Courtship of Mr. Lincoln by Ruth Painter Randall, Mary Lincoln: Biography of a Marriage by Ruth Painter Randall, The President's Wife: Mary Todd Lincoln by Ishbel Ross, and Abraham Lincoln: From Skeptic to Prophet by Wayne C. Temple. Also, Irving Stone's piece of historical fiction, Love is Eternal, is quite absorbing.

Reverend Charles N. Dresser, the Episcopal clergyman who married the Lincolns, later taught English at Jubilee College, Robins Nest, Peoria County, Illinois. Eventually he returned to Springfield and died March 25, 1865, after a long illness. He is buried on a hill near the Lincoln Tomb. For more information on the clergymen in Lincoln's life, see Lincoln and the Preachers by Edgar DeWitt Jones (New York, Harper and Brothers, 1948).


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