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Mary Todd Lincoln's faux pas (plural), worse, and much worse
06-12-2014, 10:10 AM
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Mary Todd Lincoln's faux pas (plural), worse, and much worse
One of President Lincoln’s oldest and best friends, Colonel Edward D. Baker, was killed in battle at Ball’s Bluff, Virginia on October 21, 1861. The second child of Mary Todd Lincoln and Abraham Lincoln was given the name Edward Baker Lincoln to honor this man. And, Senator Edward Baker was chosen by Mr. Lincoln to introduce the President-elect to the people at the Presidential Inaugural ceremony in 1861.

Mr. C. C. Coffin, who was at McClellan’s headquarters when Lincoln received the news of his friend’s death, tells of the scene:

“We could hear the click of the telegraph in the adjoining room and low conversation between the President and General McClellan, succeeded by silence, excepting the click, click of the instrument, which went on with its tale of disaster. Five minutes passed, and then Mr. Lincoln, unattended, with bowed head and tears rolling down his furrowed cheeks, his face pale and wan, his breast heaving with emotion, passed through the room. He almost fell as he stepped into the street. We sprang involuntarily from our seats to render assistance, but he did not fall. With both hands pressed upon his heart, he walked down the street, not returning the salute of the sentinel pacing his beat before the door.” (Ida M. Tarbell, “The Life of Abraham Lincoln,” Vol. Two, pages 70-71, The Macmillan Company, 1925) [General McClellan had informed C. C. Coffin and others of the cause for Mr. Lincoln’s display of grief a few moments later.]

At the funeral of Edward Baker, President Lincoln wept uncontrollably. . . . The President later deemed Baker’s death the “keenest blow” he suffered in the entire war. (Professor Michael Burlingame, “Abraham Lincoln: A Life” Vol. Two, page 271.)

Mary Lincoln shocked many people at Edward D. Baker’s funeral by appearing in a lilac dress, bonnet, and gloves. Some members of her circle, thinking she should be made aware of that breach of etiquette, dispatched one of her closest friends to convey the message. Upon arriving at the White House, the emissary was greeted by Mary Lincoln with an exclamation: “I am so glad you have come, I am just as mad I can be. Mrs. Crittenden has just been here to remonstrate with me for wearing my lilac suit to Colonel Baker’s funeral. I wonder if the women of Washington expect me to muffle myself up in mourning for every soldier killed in this great War?”

“But Mrs. Lincoln,” came the reply, “do you not think black more suitable to wear at a funeral because there is a great war in the nation?”

“No, I don’t. I want the women to mind their own business; I intend to wear what I please.”

(Professor Michael Burlingame, “Abraham Lincoln: A Life” Vol. Two, page 271)

"So very difficult a matter is it to trace and find out the truth of anything by history." -- Plutarch
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Mary Todd Lincoln's faux pas (plural), worse, and much worse - David Lockmiller - 06-12-2014 10:10 AM
RE: Mary Todd Lincoln's faux pas - Gene C - 06-12-2014, 10:32 AM

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