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Robert Todd Lincoln --The vitals
12-17-2017, 07:43 PM
Post: #46
RE: Robert Todd Lincoln --The vitals
(12-17-2017 03:56 PM)RJNorton Wrote:  
(12-17-2017 06:06 AM)Eva Elisabeth Wrote:  Mary was on the edge in the White House years, too

(12-17-2017 03:16 PM)kerry Wrote:  I agree that Mary was already pretty unstable in the White House

Eva, Kerry, everyone...I have a question.

Elizabeth Keckly wrote (after Willie's passing):

“In one of her paroxysms of grief the President kindly bent over his wife, took her by the arm, and gently led her to the window. With a stately, solemn gesture, he pointed to the lunatic asylum.

“‘Mother, do you see that large white building on the hill yonder? Try and control your grief, or it will drive you mad, and we may have to send you there.’"


Has it ever been determined if this statement could be true or is it something Elizabeth Keckly created or embellished? Was there REALLY a large lunatic asylum within sight from the White House in 1862?

I don't know if the asylum (the Government Hospital for the Insane, known as St. Elizabeth's) was visible from the White House, but it was perched on a hill and was certainly visible from other parts of the city. During the illumination of April 3, the Daily National Republican noted, "The Insane Asylum had a fine appearance from the city, every part of it being brilliantly illuminated."
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12-17-2017, 10:08 PM (This post was last modified: 12-17-2017 10:16 PM by kerry.)
Post: #47
RE: Robert Todd Lincoln --The vitals
I don't know what to think of Keckley's claims. Her later interviews are interesting. I do think it is very plausible that Lincoln told Mary something like that, because she was in very bad shape and probably harming herself -- that is what paroxysm hints at. He framed it as a "we" will have to put you there thing, and he tried to reason with her; he didn't spring it on her, and apparently she regained control and was not resentful. So I see that as a very different approach from what Robert did. I think it's very possible Lincoln and Mary discussed her mental health issues and it was agreed that he'd do his best to kind of cover for her/look the other way, and get her back on track. I don't think she was in denial that she sometimes lost control - but I think she wanted Robert to take that approach. I'd like to see the full clipping that Burlingame and Emerson cite about him talking to the Capitol prison guy about Mary's mental state.

Keckley's later interviews included the following:

"She confirmed all the stories about Mary’s extravagance, and said the facts were worse, perhaps, than the public ever knew. As the wife of the President, she had unlimited credit with Stewart, in New York, and also owed nearly $30,000 at one time, exceeding the President’s annual salary. Once she declared, “The Republican politician shall pay my debts. They are becoming rich from patronage given by my husband and I will demand of them that they pay my debts.” Keckly declined to say whether this threat was carried out or not."

She implies, as I have suspected, that the Old Clothes thing was not a completely losing game financially, and that she did get some hush money, and that aggravated Keckly, who wasn't compensated. She wrote the book in response, but it didn't seem unflattering. Still, she claims that much of the stuff was added in by the editors, but doesn't say what. So it's hard to know what is true. Her motives are unclear.
The article declared the book was "mysteriously suppressed." Speaking of the book, Keckly said:

“I never intended to write that book, and, in fact, I never wrote it. What I wanted to do was to tell the simple story of my life, my days of slavery, my freedom, my acquaintance with the big officials . . . the proceeds of the sale to go toward rebuilding Wilberforce University . . . To tell the reason for my being in New York where the book was written embodies a tragic story, which I would rather not tell, but now, as I am almost done with life, I think I should tell the truth of the matter and set myself right before the world. ... Before leaving New York she implored me to watch her every interest, saying she would make me comfortable for the rest of my life. ... She never realized much of anything from the sales. After she returned to Chicago, Mrs. Lincoln wrote me the most affectionate letters, but the fact confronted me that I was without a penny in my pocket with which to board myself, and that my business in Washington was utterly ruined. I secured some sewing in the family of a well-known physician in New York, and . . . fell to telling the little incidents of life in the White House . . . To this family I told my desire to help my race by rebuilding Wilberforce University. It was suggested to me that I have a lecture prepared for me, telling of my experiences in the White House, and that I go on a regular lecturing tour, carrying with me . . . the relics . . . even the ghastly, blood-stained cloak. At last I became accustomed to the thought, and concluded to accept the advice and offer of help from others. As all the proceeds of the lecture would go to Wilberforce University, I determined to write the little book I have mentioned, and sell it for my own benefit. My own education had been much neglected, and when the doctor offered to secure the services of an amanuensis for me, I gladly accepted . . . This was the very first step of that much regretted authorship which was shouldered upon me. ...The chapters of the book were read to me. Though there was often a more frank statement of some little affair that was altogether necessary, there was still nothing harmful. I must say now, after all the intervening years, that I was justified if a little bitter. . . . Much that was written and read to me, I have asked to have cut out, and much of the story was not read to me at all. ...
“‘I was excited in their telling, but should not have been printed. I knew afterward that in reading the copy too much was omitted in the reading that was actually in the copy, and had I known it in time, it should never have been printed. I never intended that Mrs. Lincoln's letters to me should be published. I was a stranger to my new friends, and lest my story might be doubted, I gave the the letters as proof--simply for the amanuensis, and the doctor to read, and my surprise was unbounded when I found that they formed an appendix to "Behind the Scenes." Then followed hours of the bitterest anguish and despair, and I did not know what to do. I tried to recall them, but it was too late. These letters were the heart cries of a frantic woman to one whom she loved and trusted, and nothing on earth could have induced me to so far forget her confidence as to give them to the world--that world that seemed always ready to scoff at this faulty, but loving woman. After that, I wrote an introduction . . . Money had been advanced to me . . . thus placing me in the hands of those who seemed to be trying to serve me, but alas. . . had only tried to fill their own pockets by filching from me the pitiful story . . . The doctor wrote informing me that my amanuensis had engaged a teacher in elocution to coach me in the assassination scene, preparatory to going on a tour through the country. I was not dramatic in temperament, and I had never been so, yet the slightest thought or mention of the day following the assassination would throw me into a fearful state of nervous excitement. My dresses were ready, and I was to tour the country in company with the ghastly blood-stained garments--the cloak worn by Mrs Lincoln . . . and her bonnet . . . along with other relics . . . The very thought of it was too gruesome for even the minds of the curious public, and suddenly decide to, once end for all, stop the terribly irreverent tour,..."

In another interview, she said she had respected Lincoln's memory by not telling many things. She was also asked if Mary was crazy (in 1879) and replied "not anymore than she ever was." She said they got in touch "indirectly" before Mary's death. They both knew the Bradwells, so they may have been what she meant, but I think it's possible she was talking about spiritualistic communication. She claims she omitted key stuff and they added key stuff, so the accuracy is impossible to pin down.

And the letters published in Behind the Scenes are heavily redacted at parts. Which is interesting, given the very personal stuff that was revealed.
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12-18-2017, 03:00 AM (This post was last modified: 12-18-2017 03:01 AM by Eva Elisabeth.)
Post: #48
RE: Robert Todd Lincoln --The vitals
Well, there's also to consider under what circumstances and needs let her publish. And some things just sell better.
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12-18-2017, 08:04 AM
Post: #49
RE: Robert Todd Lincoln --The vitals
Where can I find Mrs. Keckley's later interviews referred to by Kerry in post #47 ?

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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12-18-2017, 09:11 AM (This post was last modified: 12-18-2017 09:11 AM by Eva Elisabeth.)
Post: #50
RE: Robert Todd Lincoln --The vitals
(12-17-2017 07:43 PM)Susan Higginbotham Wrote:  
(12-17-2017 03:56 PM)RJNorton Wrote:  
(12-17-2017 06:06 AM)Eva Elisabeth Wrote:  Mary was on the edge in the White House years, too

(12-17-2017 03:16 PM)kerry Wrote:  I agree that Mary was already pretty unstable in the White House

Eva, Kerry, everyone...I have a question.

Elizabeth Keckly wrote (after Willie's passing):

“In one of her paroxysms of grief the President kindly bent over his wife, took her by the arm, and gently led her to the window. With a stately, solemn gesture, he pointed to the lunatic asylum.

“‘Mother, do you see that large white building on the hill yonder? Try and control your grief, or it will drive you mad, and we may have to send you there.’"


Has it ever been determined if this statement could be true or is it something Elizabeth Keckly created or embellished? Was there REALLY a large lunatic asylum within sight from the White House in 1862?

I don't know if the asylum (the Government Hospital for the Insane, known as St. Elizabeth's) was visible from the White House, but it was perched on a hill and was certainly visible from other parts of the city. During the illumination of April 3, the Daily National Republican noted, "The Insane Asylum had a fine appearance from the city, every part of it being brilliantly illuminated."
Just it is red brick, even illuminated I doubt it looked white.
   
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12-18-2017, 09:33 AM
Post: #51
RE: Robert Todd Lincoln --The vitals
(12-18-2017 09:11 AM)Eva Elisabeth Wrote:  Just it is red brick, even illuminated I doubt it looked white.

This morning I tried to search the Internet to see if anyone else discussed this issue, and I came upon a web page that deals with Mrs. Keckly's account.

https://www.quora.com/Did-Abe-Lincoln-re...vie-stated
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12-18-2017, 11:11 AM (This post was last modified: 12-18-2017 07:39 PM by kerry.)
Post: #52
RE: Robert Todd Lincoln --The vitals
(12-18-2017 08:04 AM)Gene C Wrote:  Where can I find Mrs. Keckley's later interviews referred to by Kerry in post #47 ?

I get the bulk from newspapers.com and genealogybank.com, both of which require a subscription. I believe you can get some of the articles at the Chronicling America website, but the search results are not easy to wade through, and I couldn't find them with a quick search.

Here is one: https://www.newspapers.com/image/3494137...keckley%22

ETA: I believe some of them are in the book Mrs. Lincoln & Mrs. Keckley.
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12-18-2017, 12:19 PM
Post: #53
RE: Robert Todd Lincoln --The vitals
What is left of St. Elizabeth's (Government Hospital for the Insane during Lincoln's time) is basically on my home turf. In 15-20 minutes, I can get to its grounds. Any of you who have participated in the Surratt Society's bus tours over the escape route of JWB have been within blocks of the property as we cross over the Navy Yard Bridge and turn left to go up through what is now Anacostia (Uniontown in 1865).

In the late-1940s, my father was stationed at Bolling AFB, which is in close proximity to the institution, and before the freeways, we went past the grounds to St. E's when we went to the BX, commissary, and health clinic on base. Before the campus was divided for use by the Department of Homeland Security, a new hospital facility, and future development for the city, it was a sprawling and beautiful complex, with one portion dedicated to a scenic overlook where you could see most of the major buildings in DC. The campus was so spread out, that some people could get permission to get into this area to watch the fireworks around the Monument on July 4th. There is/was a large cemetery there with graves of Civil War soldiers, black and white, as well as other patients.

The oldest building, the Center Building, still stands but has been totally gutted for renovation with only the exterior walls remaining. Those walls date to 1855, and their bricks were actually dug from the clay on property and fired there. I vaguely remember them looking more like a sandy pink color than red bricks. I also suspect that those early buildings (the campus dates to 1852 - a decade before Lincoln would have been threatening his wife with incarceration) have undergone restorations and renovations over the years. The earliest photo that I found of Center Bldg appears to be late-19th century and is very light in color.

It is also important to note that in the Lincolns' time, there was more than just one building that comprised the Government Hospital for the Insane. Center had West Wing, East Wing, but there were also separate "lodges" for black inmates, one for males and one for females. In the C-Span documentary that I am going to lead you to at the end, photos of these lodges clearly show them to be painted white. Perhaps one of those was visible from the White House.

The route that I use to get into the city is via Suitland Parkway (the presidential route from Joint Base Andrews and Air Force One to the city), and part of the hospital's grounds are on my left going in. One of my staff members also pointed out that, as we cross the South Capitol Street Bridge, we can see the White House -- even today with the multitude of buildings. Both the city and the Maryland shore was sparsely developed in 1865. In fact, the site for the hospital was chosen because it was wide-open farmland that was thought to help calm the patients and also be worked as farmland for occupational therapy. The name St. Elizabeth's was actually taken after the Civil War and comes from the original plantation on the property.

My point is that I disagree with Jean Baker as to whether or not one could see the hospital (or any part of it) from the White House. I would love to know her source for claiming that no window in the White House had a view, especially in 1865.

Speaking of Jean Baker, I have heard her speak a number of times and do like her book and thoughts. However, she is just as protective of Mary Lincoln as Jason Emerson is critical of the First Lady. She is a very "stern" and "sobering" speaker, and in the past, I have seen her become almost rude to audience members who have brought up some of the negative points that history traditionally tells us about Mary. I have the inclination to suspect that she would pooh-pooh Mrs. Keckly's observation (if it is true) because it lends more credence to the fact that Mrs. Lincoln was emotionally - and maybe mentally - unstable.

Anyhow, the National Building Museum in the old Pension Building had a large, special exhibit on the history of St. Elizabeth's this past summer. I'm not sure if it is still up, but C-Span did a great program on it. If you have an extra hour, go to: https://www.c-span.org/video/?431999-1/s...s-hospital

Meanwhile, I have a volunteer who works on the campus and has made friends with the historians there. He will now have a homework assignment... He came through for several of us a few years ago when we were able to prove a Lincoln-assassination researcher wrong on something. I also will contact the National Building Museum to see what their thoughts are. Hopefully, more will be revealed!
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12-18-2017, 04:01 PM
Post: #54
RE: Robert Todd Lincoln --The vitals
(12-18-2017 12:19 PM)L Verge Wrote:  What is left of St. Elizabeth's (Government Hospital for the Insane during Lincoln's time) is basically on my home turf. In 15-20 minutes, I can get to its grounds. Any of you who have participated in the Surratt Society's bus tours over the escape route of JWB have been within blocks of the property as we cross over the Navy Yard Bridge and turn left to go up through what is now Anacostia (Uniontown in 1865).

In the late-1940s, my father was stationed at Bolling AFB, which is in close proximity to the institution, and before the freeways, we went past the grounds to St. E's when we went to the BX, commissary, and health clinic on base. Before the campus was divided for use by the Department of Homeland Security, a new hospital facility, and future development for the city, it was a sprawling and beautiful complex, with one portion dedicated to a scenic overlook where you could see most of the major buildings in DC. The campus was so spread out, that some people could get permission to get into this area to watch the fireworks around the Monument on July 4th. There is/was a large cemetery there with graves of Civil War soldiers, black and white, as well as other patients.

The oldest building, the Center Building, still stands but has been totally gutted for renovation with only the exterior walls remaining. Those walls date to 1855, and their bricks were actually dug from the clay on property and fired there. I vaguely remember them looking more like a sandy pink color than red bricks. I also suspect that those early buildings (the campus dates to 1852 - a decade before Lincoln would have been threatening his wife with incarceration) have undergone restorations and renovations over the years. The earliest photo that I found of Center Bldg appears to be late-19th century and is very light in color.

It is also important to note that in the Lincolns' time, there was more than just one building that comprised the Government Hospital for the Insane. Center had West Wing, East Wing, but there were also separate "lodges" for black inmates, one for males and one for females. In the C-Span documentary that I am going to lead you to at the end, photos of these lodges clearly show them to be painted white. Perhaps one of those was visible from the White House.

The route that I use to get into the city is via Suitland Parkway (the presidential route from Joint Base Andrews and Air Force One to the city), and part of the hospital's grounds are on my left going in. One of my staff members also pointed out that, as we cross the South Capitol Street Bridge, we can see the White House -- even today with the multitude of buildings. Both the city and the Maryland shore was sparsely developed in 1865. In fact, the site for the hospital was chosen because it was wide-open farmland that was thought to help calm the patients and also be worked as farmland for occupational therapy. The name St. Elizabeth's was actually taken after the Civil War and comes from the original plantation on the property.

My point is that I disagree with Jean Baker as to whether or not one could see the hospital (or any part of it) from the White House. I would love to know her source for claiming that no window in the White House had a view, especially in 1865.

Speaking of Jean Baker, I have heard her speak a number of times and do like her book and thoughts. However, she is just as protective of Mary Lincoln as Jason Emerson is critical of the First Lady. She is a very "stern" and "sobering" speaker, and in the past, I have seen her become almost rude to audience members who have brought up some of the negative points that history traditionally tells us about Mary. I have the inclination to suspect that she would pooh-pooh Mrs. Keckly's observation (if it is true) because it lends more credence to the fact that Mrs. Lincoln was emotionally - and maybe mentally - unstable.

Anyhow, the National Building Museum in the old Pension Building had a large, special exhibit on the history of St. Elizabeth's this past summer. I'm not sure if it is still up, but C-Span did a great program on it. If you have an extra hour, go to: https://www.c-span.org/video/?431999-1/s...s-hospital

Meanwhile, I have a volunteer who works on the campus and has made friends with the historians there. He will now have a homework assignment... He came through for several of us a few years ago when we were able to prove a Lincoln-assassination researcher wrong on something. I also will contact the National Building Museum to see what their thoughts are. Hopefully, more will be revealed!

No solid info yet, but my volunteer reminded me that President Lincoln visited the hospital and the military patients and would have known the color of the building. The soldiers and sailors were mainly housed in the Center Building and wings.

He also told me that since the early 1900s, everyone incorrectly spells the name of the hospital as St. Elizabeth's - which was the original name of the land on which it was built. However, in some report, some member of Congress or an errant clerk dropped the apostrophe out of the name, and its "official" name is actually St. Elizabeths.
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12-18-2017, 08:47 PM (This post was last modified: 12-18-2017 08:51 PM by Eva Elisabeth.)
Post: #55
RE: Robert Todd Lincoln --The vitals
(12-18-2017 09:33 AM)RJNorton Wrote:  
(12-18-2017 09:11 AM)Eva Elisabeth Wrote:  Just it is red brick, even illuminated I doubt it looked white.

This morning I tried to search the Internet to see if anyone else discussed this issue, and I came upon a web page that deals with Mrs. Keckly's account.

https://www.quora.com/Did-Abe-Lincoln-re...vie-stated
Thanks, Roger, that makes sense (visible from Soldiers' Home). Since Keckly didn't specify it was a White House window and she indeed was at the Soldiers' Home with the Lincolns at times (if I recall correctly) it might have happened there. On the other hand to call red brick white seems quite unrealistic to me.

Found these btw:
       
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12-19-2017, 05:11 AM
Post: #56
RE: Robert Todd Lincoln --The vitals
(12-18-2017 08:47 PM)Eva Elisabeth Wrote:  Thanks, Roger, that makes sense (visible from Soldiers' Home). Since Keckly didn't specify it was a White House window and she indeed was at the Soldiers' Home with the Lincolns at times (if I recall correctly) it might have happened there. On the other hand to call red brick white seems quite unrealistic to me.

Eva, still I wonder about the quote's authenticity. When I read what was written on that web page, the first thing that came to my mind was that Willie died in the winter (February 20th). The Lincolns spent the summers at the Soldiers' Home, and they were not there when Willie died. According to Lincoln Day by Day, they did not move there until June 13, 1862. Keckly wrote that the incident happened weeks after Willie's funeral. So I have assumed March (or April at the latest). The Lincolns would have still been at the White House, not the Soldiers' Home.

Can you tell I have my doubts about this quote? (Just a personal opinion)
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12-19-2017, 09:01 AM (This post was last modified: 12-19-2017 09:12 AM by L Verge.)
Post: #57
RE: Robert Todd Lincoln --The vitals
I have very serious doubts that there was any view of the Soldiers' Home from the White House, and it certainly was not known as a mental facility (Mrs. Keckly states "lunatic asylum").

Having done a bit of research on Elizabeth Keckly when the Surratt Society raised funds to mark her grave about a decade ago, I have a lot of faith in her words and believe she was a very honorable lady. If anyone wrote falsely in her book, it would have been the publisher -- and I suspect he or his editor would have had no idea whether or not the Government Hospital for the Insane was visible from the White House.
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12-19-2017, 09:39 AM
Post: #58
RE: Robert Todd Lincoln --The vitals
I agree. Even if Lincoln did not use the exact words attributed to him (and the quote does sound a little "dressed up"), I think the substance of it is correct.
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12-19-2017, 09:47 AM
Post: #59
RE: Robert Todd Lincoln --The vitals
I could not get this view of the grounds of St. Elizabeths looking into the city to reproduce, but go here to view it: https://www.google.com/search?q=Civil+Wa...3693560586

You can see the Capitol across the river, and the White House (though not visible) would be 16 blocks to the left. Remember also that the Lincolns would have been on the second floor of the building (private quarters), giving an even better view -- and looking out over a lot of swamp land.
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12-19-2017, 01:11 PM
Post: #60
RE: Robert Todd Lincoln --The vitals
My best guess would be Keckley did say something along those lines, and the ghostwriter dressed it up, as you are supposed to writing using details like color and texture to make the reader picture the scene. It's less natural to talk that way. I think the dialogue was likely made much punchier, but the substance was probably true. As I think is true of most books about Lincoln, even by people who were direct witnesses. I don't think exact accuracy of quotes was considered as necessary as now. My impression from the book and interviews is that Keckley saw that mental state as a temporary grief reaction, and did not consider her anywhere near insane during the Old Clothes scandal, just nervous, angry, impulsive, etc.
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