Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Lincolns' 170th Wedding Anniversary

Today marks the 170th anniversary of the wedding of Abraham Lincoln and Miss Mary Ann Todd in Springfield, Illinois. On November 4, 1842 the two were joined in matrimony at the home of Mary's sister and brother-in-law, Ninian and Elizabeth Edwards.  It was a small wedding with only 30 guests or so in attendance.  As a wedding gift, Lincoln gave his new bride a simple gold wedding ring which was inscribed "Love Is Eternal."

The wedding was a hastily arranged event, with Lincoln announcing only the day before that he and Mary wanted to get married that night, but the timing was such that the wedding took place on Friday, November 4.  The image above is of the original marriage certificate as filed with the state of Illinois.

Mr. Lincoln and Miss Todd had become acquainted when she moved to Springfield into the Edwards home in 1839.  They met shortly after at a town dance, with Lincoln stating that he wanted to dance with Miss Todd "in the worst way."  It is said that Mary quipped later that he certainly had danced with her in the "worst way."  Nonetheless, the two courted and had a basic understanding that they would marry, until something caused them to break up by 1841.  Only through the intercession of friends did the two resume a courtship in 1842.

The quick announcement of Lincoln's desire to "get hitched" as he called it have caused many researchers over the years to speculate that Mary Todd perhaps seduced him into marrying her.  The fact that their first child, Robert, was born on August 1, 1843 does perhaps lend credence to the speculation.  Of course, it is also possible that Mary became pregnant on their wedding night as the birth of Robert falls within the 9-month gestation period.  Unless someone stumbles upon a previously undiscovered letter between Abraham and Mary or finds a diary of either one, we'll never know for certain.

By most accounts, the Lincolns' marriage was not an easy one.  He was often gone from Springfield, traveling on the law circuit for weeks at a time. Lincoln could be distant and lost in thought, often not paying as much attention to his wife as she would have liked.  Mary was highly-strung, anxious, and prone to mood swings which could be withering for anyone subjected to them.  Modern historians consider her to have been suffering from bi-polar disorder (manic-depression).

Still, the Lincolns were devoted to one another and seemed to love one another very much.  He affectionately called her "Molly" or "Mother" after their children were born.  She referred to him as "Father" or "Husband."  He worried for her mental state after the deaths of their children Eddie (1850) and Willie (1862).  And she of course never recovered after her husband was assassinated as she sat by his side on the tragic night of April 14, 1865.

Happy Anniversary, Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln.

1 comment:

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