Culture Magazine

Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided

By Kaiser31083 @andythemovieguy
Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House DividedOne of the main reasons that makes Abraham Lincoln such a fascinating historical figure is how unlikely he was. Lanky, rural, and lacking sophistication and formal education, who would have thought he would be the man to lead our country through its darkest hours? The same applies to his wife Mary Todd Lincoln, independent, intelligent, unstable and an equally unlikely first lady. Their tumultuous yet loving story is told in this remarkable six part series which follows the couples early years in Kentucky, to their political days in Springfield, IL, to the White House, the Civil War, and the triumphs and tragedies which beset both of them. Director David Grubin wonderfully assembles the stock photographs and historian interviews and the film is given tremendous narration by David McCullough. Abraham Lincoln was one of our foremost leaders leaders thanks to his determination, resolve, eloquence and perhaps most importantly, the support of his loving wife Mary.Here is a lengthy outline of each of the six episodes:Ambition-early years, both Abraham and Mary lose their mothers young-he was born poor in Kentucky, she rich in Kentucky-he had a loving stepmother, her a disdainful one-he was tall, gawky, smart, and likable and she was wild, smart, elegant, and funny-both had tendencies toward depression-he moved to illinois, worked pass lower class roots, and ran for politics while taking up a number of professions-she became educated and interested in politics and headed to Springfield where she became the toast of the town-he eventually wins state office as a member of the Whig party while setting out to become a lawyer and develops a love of poetry-he meets Anne Rutledge and falls in love before she passes away and he succumbs to a great depression-he heads for the Illinois capital of Springfield as his career is on the rise-both meet at a party in Springfield-politicked for William Henry Harrison and ran for legislature and won-He fell in love with Mary Todd, the two become engaged shortly after election day, and Abe quickly takes it back-Mary waits for him as he battles another bout of depression and the two become husband and wife.We Are Elected-live in the same house for 17 years-Robert Todd, Edward born-Abe travels around the state gaining clients and creating political support-Mary suffers from fears and ailments-elected as a Whig to House of Representatives in 1846 and immersed himself in political scene of Washington D.C.-Mary struggled in D.C. at home with two kids and Abe consumed at work, begins to recklessly live beyond her means. She eventually takes the boys to her Kentucky hometown and Abe becomes frustrated and lonely without her-Abe heads to New England with Mary and the boys to plug for Whig candidate Zachary Taylor-Taylor wins as Lincoln's term expires and he withdraws from politics for a few years-tragedy strikes at home as Edward contracts tuberculosis and dies and Mary becomes inconsolable-William Wallace Lincoln and Thomas (Tad) are born-Abe's law practice booms and tours circuit as Mary becomes more erratic and he grows more melancholic-The expansion of slavery through Stephen A. Douglas's Kansas-Nebraska Act calls Lincoln to action and gives him fire-Runs for Senate in 1855 and loses-The Republican Party forms as part of abolitionist movement and Lincoln joins and campaigns for Fremont for President-Lincoln gains a loyal following and becomes a formidable Illinois politico and Mary starts to become contented-In 1858 he runs against Stephen Douglas for Senate, gives his famous A House Divided speech, and challenges old foe to a series of debates which is reluctantly accepted. Their debates over slavery would define the nation's views, although Lincoln's views on the institution would remain conflicted. Lincoln loses the election.-Continues speaking out against slavery across the country and decides to make a run for the presidency. In 1860 he makes an important speech in New York which displayed his talents to an east coast crowd.-At the Republican Convention in May, William Seward was the front runner and Lincoln did not seem to have a chance. He was not there but sent agents to assure his presence, and the party chose him on the third vote.-During the campaign he became known as Honest Abe and The Railsplitter and his family engaged in the exciting process-Democrats nominating three candidates, Douglas, John C. Breckenridge, and John Bell, gives Lincoln and advantage and he emerges victorious with only 40% of the popular vote and no southern support as calls for secession and death threats beginShattered-The Lincolns say goodbye to Springfield in February, 1861 and embark on a northern tour of cities ending in Washington where Abraham will lead a shattered nation-his election had been a call for secession, and seven states leave the union and adopt their own constitution with Jefferson Davis as president-threats on his life begin and Mary's fears begin, as the president arrives in Washington undercover for an inauspicious beginning-members of his cabinet are comprised largely of rivals who hold Lincoln in little regard-uneasiness marks inauguration day as snipers line Pennsylvania Avenue, Lincoln urges unity in his "better angels of our nature" speech, and Confederate troops surround Fort Sumter and demand its surrender-Mary is determined to shine for her husband as the term "First Lady" is coined, and she becomes torn by the Southern conflict-she receives Congressional appropriations to renovate the White House-Lincoln stalls on a resolution for the Fort Sumter standoff and becomes consumed by strain and plays shadow games with Secretary of State Seward-places the south in a position to be the aggressor as he re-ups the Fort. The Confederates fire up Sumter, take the Fort, and raise their flag as the Civil War begins-Lincoln strives for a quick resolution as more Southern states secede and secessionists barricade the President and his family in The White House-Lincoln suspends the writ of habeas corpus and many realize they have underestimated him-Mary receives criticisms for reckless spending during wartime and she only becomes worse-Union soldiers engage in The Battle of Bull Run at Lincoln's insistence, and good news is received followed by corrected bad news of the Union losing as it becomes clear that this would be a long and arduous affair-Lincoln appoints George McClellan as General of the Army of the Potomac who begins to prepare the troops for battle but he drags his feet when it comes to attacking-Lincoln works tirelessly and without personal regard and Mary begins to feel neglected and abandoned and consumes herself with refurbishing the White House and goes over her Congressional budget. She begins to pad numbers and keep her husband in the dark and a scandal at bay. Abe tries to pay the bill but Congress bails them out.-the Lincoln children create mischief and joy for the Abe and Mary-Lincoln pores over maps and books on military strategy and McClellan continues to avoid battle-in late January 1862, Lincoln orders a land and sea assault on the enemy-in early February, Mary hosts a gathering at the White House and shows off her work which is seen as a huge success, although the hosts were preoccupied with the illness of the son Willie who was sick with typhoid. Attacks on Mary's frivolity grow as Willie grows sicker and dies-Mary does not attend the funeral and is burdened by insurmountable grief as all her past afflictions come welling up-Lincoln is distraught as well, although he maintains and keeping sight of the greater national tragedyThe Dearest of All Things-Lincoln receives word in March 1862 that McClellan's army is finally on the move with the goal of capturing Richmond, but he stalls-Mary continues to mourn her son and support the Union while much of her family fights for the Confederacy-Many men were lost is the victory at Shiloh, McClellan continues to stall during his march on Richmond, and the Confederacy names Robert E. Lee as its commanding general who wins a successive number of battles-Lincoln is severely criticized by the nation and his health begins to suffer-Mary continues to be wracked with grief and paralyzed by depression and Abraham fears for her sanity-hordes of slaves make their way for the north as members of the party called for an end to the institution although Lincoln did nothing and refused to be pushed around-Congress kept passing measures to extinguish slavery but Lincoln kept refusing-Mary finds strength in a friendship with ex-slave seamstress Elizabeth Keckley and becomes involved with abolitionist movement-Lincoln calls black delegates to the White House for a meeting to garner opinions on voluntary colonization. The idea was met with disdain from Frederick Douglas and other African-Americans-The northern army seems on the verge of collapse and calls to end slavery continue to grow and grow as Lincoln decides to attack slavery in the summer of 1862. He writes the Emancipation Proclamation and puts it away-Mary continues to look for answers after the death of her son and turns to spiritualists and Abe sat in on seances, though alarmed by his wife's behavior-the couple begins to visit army hospitals and Mary thrives in these despairing conditions-the news from the battlefield continues to be bad as the Union loses again at Bull Run and Lee crosses the Potomac-Lincoln urges McLellan to attack, he catches Lee near Sharpsburg but does not pursue, and the ensuing Battle of Antietam becomes the bloodiest conflict on American soil. The North loses many men, but the South is severely crippled although McLellan does not attack on day 2, infuriating Lincoln-Lincoln uses the terrible victory to deliver the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring all slaves free by 1863-After meeting with McClellan at Antietam, Lincoln decides to relieve McClellan, although he had to wait due to the general's popularity-Mary and Elizabeth begin to tend to displaced ex-slaves-Lincoln faces strong criticism, loses Republican seats in the election, and finally relieves McClellan-the North loses again at Fredericksburg under newly appointed commanding general Ambrose Burnsides-the White House hosted many visitors on New Year's Day, 1863 which marked Mary's return to public life since the death of her son, which she could not bear for long. Abe entertained guests and went to sign the Emancipation Proclamation which went into effect at midnightThis Frightful War-Union Army was losing men through death, disease, and desertion and Lincoln continues to take criticism-Mary was still mourning the loss of her son Willie-Union Army moves through Virginia under General Hooker and tries to trap Lee at Chancellorsville, where instead Lee's army routed the Union and gets away clean-Mary was on her way to visit soldiers when her carriage was overthrown and she cut her head on a rock, exacerbating her headaches for the rest of her life-on the same day of Mary's accident, there were two important battles. General Grant had been laying siege on Vicksburg, Mississippi while Robert E. Lee made a vital attack in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania-the Confederates bombarded the Union lines for two days, but were kept at bay until they began to shell them on the third, when they were destroyed by the Union. Gettysburg wound up being the bloodiest battle of the war and a major turning point for the North as Vicksburg was surrendered to the Union as well-Lincoln celebrated the victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg until he learned that General Meade failed to capture Lee's army in the north-the Union begins to enlist African-Americans and their valor on the battlefield causes Lincoln to look at them in a new light. He has his first meeting with Frederick Douglass-Congress passes a conscription law, which was seen as a draft to end slavery, which causes riots and attacks against blacks in New York City-Mary recovers and head north to New Hampshire with her son Tad-In November while Tad was sick with fever, Lincoln heads to Gettysburg to say some words over a new memorial. Lincoln delivers his seminal Gettysburg Address and gives the struggle a new meaning-Mary's sister Emily who lost a Confederate husband visits the White House, and both relish the visit although Emily is concerned about Mary's mental state.-Lincoln meets Grant for the first time at a White House ball in March, 1864 and appoints him Lieutenant General, the first man bestowed with the honor since George Washington-Grant proposes an all out assault on the Confederacy and begins to move south through the thickets of Virginia to attack Lee. The seven following weeks were some of the most savage ever seen.-by June, Grant had Richmond within his sight as calls from every quarter come in protesting the war only three months shy of election day. Sherman's march on Atlanta had stalled as the Democrats were thought to nominate McClellan-Mary has once again plunged herself into debt and she becomes wracked with anxiety as election day nears-Lincoln sees Douglass again to see if he could spearhead a dangerous mission to get slaves to the north before election day if he loses, finally gaining Douglass' trustBlind with Weeping-While on their way to their summer home in August, 1864, a shot was taken at the Lincoln's cart causing Mary even further consternation as well as premonitions of Abraham's death-The presidential campaign proceeds as usual in the midst of war as Lincoln predicts his defeat-General Sherman captures Atlanta and turns the election in Lincoln's favor and he wins handily resolving to end the war and ban slavery entirely. He fought for an amendment banning slavery to take effect before inauguration day. The 13th Amendment was passed in a celebratory Congress.-Sherman began to pillage as he marched from Atlanta to the sea and General Phillip Sheridan stormed through Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. Northern POWs suffer as well under harsh conditions.-Although victory was close, Lincoln questioned the war in his second inaugural speech-In March the Lincolns head for Virginia by boat to meet Grant. At a parade, Mary erupted when she saw General Edward Ord's wife sitting next to Abraham and chastised both Mrs. Ord and her husband. A delusional Mary is sent back to Washington.-At the conference with his generals, he urged dogged pursuit of the rebels while instructing them to offer generous terms of surrender.-Grant attacks at Petersburg and Richmond now lays undefended as Lee retreats west-Lincoln makes his way through the plummeted south with son Tad-General Lee surrenders the south on a day of tremendous rejoicing as Lincoln gives a speech on reconstruction and says the vote should be given to some blacks. One of the crowd's members was John Wilkes Booth
-On Good Friday, the Lincolns attend Our American Cousin at Ford's Theater when Booth's fatal bullet strikes Abraham in the back of the head
-Carried across the street into a rooming house, Mary pleas by his side not to leave her. Abraham Lincoln dies the next morning.
-His body lie in state in the East Room while Mary concealed herself, inconsoluble. His coffin was paraded through a bereaved Washington and he was placed on a train home to Springfield, stopping along the way for grieving crowds to meet him. He was laid to rest alongside sons Eddie and Willie
-Mary did not accompany her husband's train. She remained in her room for a month and left the White House for the last time. She remained secluded in a Chicago hotel, consumed with grief.
-Abraham Lincoln's death starts to take on mythic qualities
-Tad Lincoln dies at age 18 of TB, and Mary completely loses her grip with reality
-Mary hurries to Chicago to see Robert, whom she was convinced of dying. He has her committed and she attempts suicide. Having lost her husband, three children, and abandoned by another, she returns to Springfield to live with her sister in the house where she married Abraham. Mary Todd Lincoln died on July 15, 1882 to be reunited with her husband and sons.
-Abraham Lincoln becomes a secular saint

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