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252. Mary Todd Lincoln (William H. Herndon Interview).

[September 1866]

Mrs. L. was born in 1823 Lexington Fayette Co Ky — 13th day of Decr Robt. S. Todd Eliza S. Parker — Mrs. Todd — her mother died when very young — Educated by Mdme Mentelle — French — opposite Mr Clays — She was well Educated — French — Spoke nothing Else — not allowed to — Finished a Mr Wards accademy — People from the north visited — went to School —

Came to Illinois in 1837 — was in Ills 3 months — went school 2 years after came to Ills — returned to Ills in 1839 or 40 — This after Mrs Wallace

My husband intended when he was through with his Presdt time to take me & family to Europe — didnt in late days dream of death — was cheery — funny — in high Spirits. He intended to return and go to California — over the Rocy Mountains and see the prospect of the Soldiers &c digging out gold to pay national debt.

He & Sumner were like boys during his last days — down on the River after Richmond was taken — they acted like boys — were so glad the war was over. Mr L. wanted to live in Spgfd and be buried there up to 1865 — Changed his notion where to live — never settled on any place particularly — moving & travelling —

Mr L was the kindest — most tender and loving husband & father in the world — He gave us all unbounded liberty — Said to me always when I asked him for any thing — You know what you want — go and get it. He never asked me if it was necessary. He was very very indulgent to his children — chided or praised for it he always said "It is my pleasure that my children are free — happy and unrestrained by paternal tyranny. Love is the chain whereby to lock a child to its parent."

I have none of my literary scraps — poems — compositions &c — Except I know of the Shield's poetry


Mr Lincoln had a dream when down the River City Point — after Richmond was taken he dreamed that the white house burned up — sent me up the River — went — met Stanton — &c. Mr L. told me to get a party and come back — did so.

Mr L. had no hope — & no faith in the usual acceptation of those word.

He found out that N. W Edwards was stealing as he though: intended to turn him out. My husband placed great Confidence in my knowledge in human nature: he had not much knowledge of men

Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 3065 — 66; Huntington Library: LN2408, 2:227 — 28



1. This appears to be the earliest version of WHH's notes on his only interview with MTL, possibly set down at the time. Unlike the following two items, a copy of this text appears in the Springer transcriptions, which were made before December 1, 1866. This suggests that the next two items may have been written later.

2. MTL was born in 1818.

3. Victorie Charlotte Leclere Mentelle operated a boarding school in Lexington.

4. Dr. John Ward conducted a coeducational school in Lexington.

5. MTL's older sister, Frances Todd, who preceded MTL to Springfield and married Dr. William S. Wallace.

6. See §213.