Post Reply 
Mary, Wife of Lincoln
04-24-2020, 08:27 PM (This post was last modified: 04-24-2020 08:29 PM by Gene C.)
Post: #1
Mary, Wife of Lincoln
By her Niece, Katherine Helm.

This book is the most friendly toward Mary Lincoln of any that I have read. You would think that the Mary Lincoln as described in this book was a completely different Mary Lincoln than the one described in the writings of William Herndon, Lincoln's law partner. It is a major contrast to how the press in her day described Mary, and how many Lincoln biographers have described her. The book is based primarily on events as told by Emiie Todd Helm, Mary's half sister and the mother of Katherine.

My copy is a first edition, published in 1918.
Mary Lincoln had died 36 years previously.
William Herndon had died 27 years earlier.
Robert Lincoln was still alive.
Emilie was 82, and lived till 1930.

Emilie was very close to Mary and Abraham Lincoln.
Emilie's husband was offered an officer's position at the beginning of the Civil War by Lincoln. He turned it down, served as an officer for the Confederate Army, and was killed at Chickamauga in 1863. Not long after that the Lincoln's invited her to stay for a while at the White House. The Lincoln's were very kind to her, despite the political difficulties this caused.
This link from Mr. Lincoln's White House goes into some detail of the relationship

In asking Lincoln for a pass to sell cotton she reminded him,
"I also would remind you that your minié bullets have made us what we are,” she wrote President Lincoln." After that letter, Mary refused to ever have anything to do with her, even after Mary left the White House. It's amazing to me this book was ever written. Robert Lincoln kept in close touch with Emilie over the years, even helping her financially on more than one occasion.

The book has a few shortcomings, nothing about Mary and selling her clothes.
Very little about her insanity trial, and her poor relationship with Robert. I believe Robert had some influence on that being left out.

The good points, her strong character is described, the difficulty her family caused when several joined the confederacy. She could only grieve privately when they were killed in battle, due to the political situation. This was extremely difficult for her. Her sharp mind, and her absolute loyalty and love for Abraham is described well.

What I liked about this book was the way the positive characteristics of Mary's personality are brought out and described. Katherine Helm is a good writer and brings Mary's personality to life.

I recommend it, in spite of it's shortcomings.
Copies are available on Amazon, but they are expensive.
I do have the 1918 edition. The print is large and east to read. The pages are thick, above average quality. A good friend found it for me at a very affordable price.
It's available on Internet Archive. It's well worth a look

There is a lot more I could say. ... and if you have read it, please share your thoughts.

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
05-02-2020, 11:01 AM
Post: #2
RE: Mary, Wife of Lincoln
I think the most valuable part of the book is the part on Mary's childhood, particularly the reminiscences by Elizabeth Humphreys Norris. as well as the selections from Emiie's wartime diary (which I could throttle her for destroying).
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply 

Forum Jump:

User(s) browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)