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Mary Todd Lincoln was the wife of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States.
With a habit of excessive spending, Mary Todd Lincoln began to accept bribes from Government officials to pay off her debts in return for her influential over Abraham Lincoln.
After moving into The White House, Mary Todd Lincoln began to redecorate.
The topic of the Lincoln's marriage continues to divide historians across the board.
Mary Todd Lincoln was one of Springfield, Illinois' most sought after socialites. When she heard of Abraham Lincoln and his rise to political power, she intended to meet and marry him.
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The intensity of her sadness was so great that even Abraham Lincoln was concerned for her mental health, according to American Heritage magazine. Mary began to explore spiritualism around this time, another interest of hers that was derided. Little did she know that even more heartbreak was in store for her.
On April 14, 1865,
Mary Todd Lincoln sat next to her husband at Ford's Theatre when he was shot by an assassin. The president died the following day, and Mary Todd Lincoln never fully recovered. She returned to Illinois and, following the death of her youngest son Thomas in 1871, fell into a deep depression. Her sole surviving son, Robert, brought her to court on charges of insanity in 1875. He claimed that her spending sprees, distorted view of her finances and fears for her own safety were signs of mental illness. The court sided with Robert, and Mary was committed to an insane asylum outside of Chicago. She was released several months later, but the incident caused her to become estranged from her son. It also left her with the lasting public perception of her as being crazy.
In 1876, Mary Todd Lincoln regained control over her property after a court found her to be of sound mind. She feared that her son might try again to institutionalize her again and chose live abroad. In 1881, Lincoln returned to the United States, choosing to live with her sister Elizabeth in Springfield, Illinois. She died of a stroke there on July 16, 1882 at the age of 63.
Historians have debated many aspects of Mary Todd Lincoln's character over the years, including her sanity. She definitely had a high-strung personality, shopaholic tendencies and an interest in some offbeat ideas, but she also showed herself to possess a keen mind and wit.
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When the 19th Amendment was ratified, women were finally given the right to vote, and over the years many courageous women have stepped onto the national political stage as well. In 1916, Jeannette Rankin became the first woman elected to Congress and almost a century later Sonia Sotomayor became the first Latina woman to serve on the Supreme Court. And within the last two decades, the esteemable Hillary Clinton has served as First Lady, a New York senator and Secretary of State. These women, and many more, are setting the stage for the future of female leaders in Washington.
Visit Biography.com's Women's History group to explore more biographies, photos and videos of some the world's most fascinating women."
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