Lincoln Discussion Symposium

Full Version: Mary Lincoln - Biography of A Marriage
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Very Good Book
by Ruth Painter Randall, written in 1953 with 399 pages. Beginning with her days in Springfield and goes to the end of her days, a refreshing look at her life, personality, and the challenges she faced in life.

She does an excellent rebuttal of Herndon's comments about Mary, and acknowledges Mary's shortcomings. The last five chapters deal with the assassination and Mary's life following, very tragic and very moving. After Tad's death her motherly attention become focused on her sister's grandson, Lewis.

"She talked much of the past and of her lost sons. She told Lewis what had not been known before, that Lincoln was holding her hand when the fatal shot was fired. When death took Lewis's two little sisters, she wrote tenderly and understandingly of his sorrow. 'We are never prepared for these things...God gives us our beloved ones, we make them our idols, they are removed from us & we have patiently to wait the time when He reunites us to them'. Then followed perhaps the most poignant sentence in all her expressions of her own grief: 'And the waiting is so long!"

Mrs. Randall writes as though she is Mary's friend, and is a talented writer. This book has become one of my favorites. The only shortcomings it has are, no index and no footnotes. She does reference and quotes many letters Mary had written that were privately owned, that people brought to Mrs Randall to use in her book.

I'll give it four and a half stars only because there is no index, bibliography, or footnotes. If you have the slightest interest of learning more about Mary Lincoln, I highly recommend this book to you.
Gene: does the book cover any of Mary's travels as a widow?
Yes, but not in much detail. One of the reasons Mary traveled to Europe was to escape the negative attention of the press. The French peple thought highly of President Lincoln and were mainly friendly and respectful to her.
I also like Ruth Painter Randall's books. She has several other books, and my personal favorite is Lincoln's Sons. The book isn't just about the boys; it's about the Lincoln family as a whole. A wonderful read, IMO.
Gene, it's an amazing book. RPR writes with compassion, insight and understanding about MTL without whitewashing her well-known flaws. I put down that book thinking...."Okay... now I understand perfectly".

God bless Mrs. Randall for rescuing Lincoln's widow from the vicious, unfair caricature begun by Herndon and perpetrated by Dale Carnegie, Ward Hill Lamon and several others right up to the present day.
I was just wondering if the book mentioned Mary's travels in Michigan. This was discovered by Forum member Cyndy Irvine a year or so ago.
Bill, IMO none of the Mary Lincoln books (or any of the books on the travels of the Lincolns such as Ralph Gary's) mention this trip that took place in the late summer of 1867. Dr. Wayne Temple has written about Mary's travels, and I don't think it's mentioned. In his book on Mary Dr. William A. Evans includes a timeline of events in her life. He has her in Racine in July 1867 and New York in September 1867 - absolutely no mention of the Michigan trip. IMO Cyndy is the one who unveiled this information. Kudos, Cyndy!
I figured as much Roger. I find it anazing that her Michigan venture was completely off the radar of all those researchers and authors. Cyndy did great work to discover it.
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