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Lincoln's Stepmother And Visits
03-26-2022, 10:02 AM (This post was last modified: 03-26-2022 12:41 PM by Dave B.)
Post: #1
Lincoln's Stepmother And Visits
I would like very much to hear your views about Lincoln not having had much contact with his stepmother after he became president. I can understand lack of contact with his dad.
Many of us have had dads whose personalities don't exactly encourage much contact. But there was no such strained relationship with Sarah Bush Johnston.

And I understand that a president's time is valuable.

But I think it's very interesting that Lincoln didn't find much time for her, as much as he loved her. I've heard that if he visited her, it might have dredged up painful feelings about his impoverished childhood, but this seems unconvincing. Not in and of itself but as a reason for not seeing her often.

"The past is a foreign country; they do things
differently there"
---- Leslie Poles Hartley
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03-26-2022, 12:45 PM
Post: #2
RE: Lincoln's Stepmother And Visits
That's an interesting question.
Lincoln had some limited contact through family and friends. Dennis Hanks visited Abraham once in Washington.

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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04-04-2022, 10:29 AM
Post: #3
RE: Lincoln's Stepmother And Visits
(03-26-2022 10:02 AM)Dave B Wrote:  I would like very much to hear your views about Lincoln not having had much contact with his stepmother after he became president. I can understand lack of contact with his dad.
Many of us have had dads whose personalities don't exactly encourage much contact. But there was no such strained relationship with Sarah Bush Johnston.

And I understand that a president's time is valuable.

But I think it's very interesting that Lincoln didn't find much time for her, as much as he loved her. I've heard that if he visited her, it might have dredged up painful feelings about his impoverished childhood, but this seems unconvincing. Not in and of itself but as a reason for not seeing her often.

My read on it is that Lincoln loved his stepmother very much. When he had the chance, he visited her. He visited her before he left for Washington, for instance.

As president, there were so many demands on his time, but he did send her money ($50 on at least one occasion, if memory serves me right, though the family said Dennis Hanks availed himself to the gift).

If Lincoln had lived past 1865, perhaps he would have had time to travel--Mary talked about that. I don't think he would have hesitated to pay his stepmother a visit had he had another opportunity.

Even if Lincoln felt his childhood was rough, even traumatic in some respects, Sarah represented a bright spot.
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04-04-2022, 01:35 PM
Post: #4
RE: Lincoln's Stepmother And Visits
(04-04-2022 10:29 AM)Samuel Wheeler Wrote:  My read on it is that Lincoln loved his stepmother very much.

I agree totally. As further evidence of this, here are the first few lines of the only letter I know of that Mary Lincoln wrote to Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln. It is dated December 19, 1867:

*****************************************************

My Dear Madam:

"In memory of the dearly loved one, who always remembered you with so much affection, will you not do me the favor of accepting these few trifles? God has been very merciful to you, in prolonging your life and I trust your health has also been preserved – In my great agony of mind I cannot trust myself to write about, what so entirely fills my thoughts, my darling husband; knowing how well you loved him also, is a grateful satisfaction to me. Believe me, dear Madam if I can ever be of any service to you, in any respect, I am entirely at your service."
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04-04-2022, 02:41 PM
Post: #5
RE: Lincoln's Stepmother And Visits
No doubt that Lincoln loved his stepmother very much. The visits, though, seemed few and far between. But, there was a war going on and Lincoln probably had no time to do much of anything but try to handle that tragic conflict.

"The past is a foreign country; they do things
differently there"
---- Leslie Poles Hartley
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04-04-2022, 04:00 PM
Post: #6
RE: Lincoln's Stepmother And Visits
Another thing to consider is that even for the President, it's not that easy getting from Washington to central Illinois. Given that there was no locomotive equivalent of Air Force One it would be virtually impossible to make such a trip. Plus, think how many soldiers that would have detailed for so many days.

Best
Rob

Abraham Lincoln in the only man, dead or alive, with whom I could have spent five years without one hour of boredom.
--Ida M. Tarbell

I want the respect of intelligent men, but I will choose for myself the intelligent.
--Carl Sandburg
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04-04-2022, 05:27 PM
Post: #7
RE: Lincoln's Stepmother And Visits
Good point, Rob.

"The past is a foreign country; they do things
differently there"
---- Leslie Poles Hartley
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