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Chapter 9.

  • Lincoln still unmarried.
  • -- the Todd family. -- Mary Todd. -- introduced to Lincoln. -- the courtship. -- the flirtation with Douglas -- the advice of Speed. -- how Lincoln broke the engagement. -- preparations for marriage. -- a disappointed bride. -- a crazy groom. -- Speed takes Lincoln to Kentucky. -- restored spirits. -- return of Lincoln to Illinois. -- letters to Speed. -- the party at Simeon Francis's house. -- the reconciliation. -- the marriage. -- the duel with James Shields. -- the “Rebecca” letters.--“Cathleen” invokes the muse. -- Whiteside's account of the duel. -- Merryman's account. -- Lincoln's address before the Washingtonian society. -- meeting with Martin Van Buren. -- partnership with Stephen T. Logan. -- partnership with William H. Herndon. -- Congressional aspirations -- nomination and election of John J. Hardin. -- the Presidential campaign of 1844. -- Lincoln takes the stump in Southern Indiana. -- Lincoln nominated for Congress. -- the canvass against Peter Cartwright. -- Lincoln elected. -- in Congress. -- the “spot resolutions.” -- Opposes the Mexican war. -- letters to Herndon. -- speeches in Congress. -- stumping through New England. -- a Congressman's troubles. -- a characteristic letter. -- end of Congressional term.

The year 1840 finds Mr. Lincoln entering his thirty-second year and still unmarried. “I have come to the conclusion,” he suggests in a facetious letter, two years before, “never again to think of marrying.” But meanwhile he had seen more of the world. The State Capital had been removed to Springfield, and he soon observed the power and influence one can exert with high family and social surroundings to draw upon. The sober truth is that Lincoln was inordinately ambitious. He had already succeeded in obtaining no inconsiderable political recognition, and numbered among his party friends men of wealth and reputation; but he himself was poor, besides lacking the graces and ease of bearing obtained through mingling in polite society — in fact, to use the expressive language of Mary Owens, he was “deficient in those little links which make up the chain of woman's happiness.” Conscious, therefore, of his humble rank in the social scale, how natural that he should seek by marriage in an influential family to establish strong connections and at the same time foster his political fortunes! This may seem an audacious thing to insinuate, but on no other basis can we reconcile the strange course of his courtship and the tempestuous [206] chapters in his married life. It is a curious history, and the facts, long chained down, are gradually coming to the surface. When all is at last known, the world I believe will divide its censure between Lincoln and his wife.

Mary Todd, who afterwards became the wife of Mr. Lincoln, was born in Lexington, Kentucky, December 13, 1818. “My mother,” related Mrs. Lincoln to me in 1865, “died when I was still young. I was educated by Madame Mantelli, a lady who lived opposite Mr. Clay's, and who was an accomplished French scholar. Our conversation at school was carried on entirely in French--in fact we were allowed to speak nothing else. I finished my education at Mrs. Ward's Academy, an institution to which many people from the North sent their daughters. In 1837 I visited Springfield, Illinois, remaining three months. I returned to Kentucky, remaining till 1839, when I again set out for Illinois, which State finally became my home.”

The paternal grandfather of Mary Todd, General Levi Todd. was born in 1756, was educated in Virginia, and studied law in the office of General Lewis of the State. He emigrated to Kentucky, was a lieutenant in the campaigns conducted by General George Rogers Clark against the Indians, and commanded a battalion in the battle of Blue Licks, August 1782, where his brother, John Todd, was killed. He succeeded Daniel Boone in command of the militia, ranking as major-general, and was one of the first settlers in Lexington, Ky. February 25, 1779, he married Miss Jane Briggs. The [207] seventh child of this union, born February 25, 1791, was Robert S. Todd, the father of Mrs. Lincoln. On her maternal side Mrs. Lincoln was highly connected. Her great-grandfather, General Andrew Porter, was in the war of the Revolution. He succeeded Peter Muhlenberg as major-general of the Pennsylvania militia. Her great uncles, George B. Porter, who was governor of Michigan, James Madison Porter, secretary of the navy under President Tyler, and David R. Porter, governor of Pennsylvania, were men of ability and distinction. Her mother, Anne Eliza Parker, was a cousin of her father, Robert S. Todd. The latter had served in both houses of the Kentucky Legislature, and for over twenty years was president of the Bank of Kentucky of Lexington. He died July 16, 1849.

To a young lady in whose veins coursed the blood that had come down from this long and distinguished ancestral line, who could even go back in the genealogical chart to the sixth century, Lincoln, the child of Nancy Hanks, whose descent was dimmed by the shadow of tradition, was finally united in marriage.

When Mary Todd came to her sister's house in Springfield in 1839, she was in her twenty-first year. She was a young woman of strong, passionate nature and quick temper, and had “left her home in Kentucky to avoid living under the same roof with a stepmother.” 1 She came to live with her oldest sister, Elizabeth, who was the wife of [208] Lincoln's colleague in the Legislature, Ninian W. Edwards. She had two other sisters, Frances, married to Dr. William Wallace, and Anne, who afterwards became the wife of C. M. Smith, a prominent and wealthy merchant. They all resided in Springfield. She was of the average height, weighing when I first saw her about a hundred and thirty pounds. She was rather compactly built, had a well rounded face, rich dark-brown hair, and bluish-gray eyes. In her bearing she was proud, but handsome and vivacious. Her education had been in no wise defective; she was a good conversationalist, using with equal fluency the French and English languages. When she used a pen, its point was sure to be sharp, and she wrote with wit and ability. She not only had a quick intellect but an intuitive judgment of men and their motives. Ordinarily she was affable and even charming in her manners; but when offended or antagonized, her agreeable qualities instantly disappeared beneath a wave of stinging satire or sarcastic bitterness, and her entire better nature was submerged. In her figure and physical proportions, in education, bearing, temperament, history — in everything she was the exact reverse of

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