#12 on the list of 150 Most Teachable Lincoln Documents

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“In this troublesome world, we are never quite satisfied….”

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On This Date

HD Daily Report, April 16, 1848

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Letter to Mary Todd
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Other Primary Sources

“Multiple Classified Advertisements,” National Daily Intelligencer, August 14, 1848

Letter from Mary Todd Lincoln to Abraham Lincoln, November 2, 1862

Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Mary Todd Lincoln, June 16, 1863

Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Mary Todd Lincoln, September 21, 1863


How Historians Interpret

“The subject of much gossip in Springfield, they incorrectly represented the Lincoln’s marriage. For all their quarrels, they were devoted to each other. In the long years of their marriage Abraham Lincoln was never suspected of being unfaithful to his wife. She, in turn, was immensely proud of him and was his most loyal supporter and admirer. When someone compared her husband unfavorably to Douglas, she responded stoutly: ‘Mr. Lincoln may not be as handsome a figure…but the people are perhaps not aware that his heart is as large as his arms are long.'”

–David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995), 108


“Unlike her husband, Mary Lincoln enjoyed little popularity. By April 1848, she had returned to her father’s home in Lexington. She may have been lonely, for there were few congressional wives with whom to socialize. (In 1845, only 72 of the 221 members of the House were accompanied by family members.) At the boarding house, Mary Lincoln ‘was so retiring that she was rarely seen except at meals.’ Some boarders at Mrs. Sprigg’s, like those in the Globe Tavern five years earlier, found her disagreeable. On April 16, 1848, Lincoln wrote her saying that all the guests at Mrs. Spriggs’s ‘or rather, all with whom you were on decided good terms – send their love to you. The others say nothing.’ Lincoln had mixed feelings about his wife’s absence … (Other congressional spouses may have envied Mary Lincoln her departure. One observed: ‘I do not believe that Washington is very pleasant to any of the Member’s wives. I have conversed with several whom I have met and all seem tired of it and wish to go home.’)”

Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (2 volumes, originally published by Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008) Unedited Manuscript By Chapter, Lincoln Studies Center, Volume 1, Chapter 8 (PDF), pp. 763-764


“Details about mundane matters and dreams blotted the pages. They reveal just how much the couple cared for one another. Mary conveyed with some relief that she was not suffering from her familiar complaint of migraines. Lincoln wrote back: ‘You are entirely free from headache? That is good – good – considering it is the first spring you have been free from it since we were acquainted.’ He continued with some joviality: ‘I am afraid you will get so well and fat and young as to be wanting to marry again.’ This kind of banter suggests an easy and comfortable relationship, built upon a solid foundation – as in other correspondence Mrs. Lincoln might joke about her ‘next husband’ or wanting to be rich enough to travel, which might not have been mentioned if they were sore points. Lincoln even added playfully: ‘Get weighed and write how much you weigh.’ This confident intimacy shows the depths of the couple’s bond.”

Catherine Clinton, Mrs. Lincoln: A Life, (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2009), 84



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Washington, April 16- 1848-
Dear Mary: 
In this troublesome world, we are never quite satisfied. When you were here, I thought you hindered me some in attending to business; but now, having nothing but business—no variety—it has grown exceedingly tasteless to me. I hate to sit down and direct documents, and I hate to stay in this old room by myself. You know I told you in last sunday’s letter, I was going to make a little speech during the week; but the week has passed away without my getting a chance to do so; and now my interest in the subject has passed away too. Your second and third letters have been received since I wrote before. Dear Eddy thinks father is “gone tapila.”  Has any further discovery been made as to the breaking into your grand-mother’s house?  If I were she, I would not remain there alone. You mention that your uncle John Parker is likely to be at Lexington. Dont forget to present him my very kindest regards.
I went yesterday to hunt the little plaid stockings, as you wished; but found that McKnight has quit business, and Allen had not a single pair of the description you give, and only one plaid pair of any sort that I thought would fit “Eddy’s dear little feet.” I have a notion to make another trial to-morrow morning. If I could get them, I have an excellent chance of sending them. …
…Very soon after you went away, I got what I think a very pretty set of shirt-bosom studs—modest little ones, jet, set in gold, only costing 50 cents a piece, or $1.50 for the whole.
Suppose you do not prefix the “Hon” to the address on your letters to me any more. I like the letters very much, but I would rather they should not have that upon them. It is not necessary, as I suppose you have thought, to have them to come free.
And you are entirely free from head-ache? That is good—good—considering it is the first spring you have been free from it since we were acquainted. I am afraid you will get so well, and fat, and young, as to be wanting to marry again. Tell Louisa I want her to watch you a little for me. Get weighed, and write me how much you weigh.
I did not get rid of the impression of that foolish dream about dear Bobby till I got your letter written the same day. What did he and Eddy think of the little letters father sent them? 
Dont let the blessed fellows forget father….
Most affectionately