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516. Elizabeth and Ninian W. Edwards (William H. Herndon Interview).

July, 27th 87

Mrs N. W. Edwards

Said — Mr Herndon I have no phos of myself — have had some — unwillingly taken — don't know where any of these are now — have a likeness — a


portrait of myself here which you can have photographed, if you must have it. When you go to Indiana I will answer your letters asking questions. I have no phos of Mrs. Lincoln: she too was opposed to having her face scattered abroad. Mrs. Lincoln was an ambitious woman — the most ambitious woman I ever saw — spurred up Mr. Lincoln, pushed him along and upward — made him struggle and seize his opportunities. Lincoln's & Mary's engagement &c were broken off by her flirtations with Douglas — Mr Edwards & myself told Lincoln & Mary not to marry — said so more or less directly: they were raised differently and had no [congruity?] — no feelings &c — alike. We never opposed Lincoln's marriage with Mary. It is said that Miss Edwards had something to do in breaking Mary's engagement with Lincoln — its not true. Miss Edwards told me that Lincoln never condescended to pay her even a poor compliment: it was the flirtation with Douglas that did the business. Mr. Lincoln and Mr Speed were frequently at our house — seemed to enjoy themselves in their conversation beneath the dense shade of our forest trees. After the match was broken off between Mary and Lincoln Mrs Francis shrewdly got them together. Doct. Henry who admired and loved Mr. Lincoln had much to do in getting Mary and Lincoln together again. — Speaking about phos, Mr Herndon, I am too old now to have one taken. At one time in my life I should not have been ashamed to Show my face — (She once was a very — very pretty woman H).

Mr Edwards was present during this conversation — said that when Lincoln first came to Springfield I assisted Lincoln — offered to buy him a good law library and send him to some law school and these offers he refused — said that he was too poor and did not wish to involve himself — said that Lincoln was, during part of the time, in the legislature of 1841 — called Session —

Both Mr Edwards and Mrs Edwards have been willing at all times to answer all proper questions and to make things plain to me. This memorandum was taken down by me quickly after the Conversation was had and is in every particular Correct substantially.


It seems to me — infer it that Mary Todd flirted with Douglas in order to spur up Lincoln to a greater love. Lincoln was undemonstrative. Miss Todd didn't know her man. Lincoln was somewhat cold and yet exacting — blew up to quickly — From various conversations with Mr & Mrs Edwards I infer as above. Mary Todd wanted Lincoln to manifest a tender and a deep love, but poor woman, she did not know that Lincoln was an undemonstrative man in this line. The devil was to play and did play his part in Mr. Lincoln's and Miss Todd's affairs — nay during their lives —


Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 3384 — 85



1. Herndon first wrote, then struck out, Septr.

2. Matilda Edwards.

3. Mrs. Simeon Francis.

4. Dr. Anson G. Henry.

5. WHH marginal note: Miss Todd used Douglas as a mere tool — refused his hand.