Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #18

My girlfriend Anne and I went to Springfield Illinois to visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. It was wonderful and we had a great time. Of course, both of us have always been "Abe-o-philes", but it really is a wonderful experience even if you aren't.

Anyway, I started reading this book about the women in Abe's life and the strong influence they had on him. So here, on this lovely Thursday, are 13 of "Abe's Babes" and who they were to him.

1. Mom. Nancy Hanks Lincoln. And yes, Tom Hanks IS a decendent. Died when Mr. L was a young lad. Although she was uneducated herself, she did encourage Abe in his academic (such as they were) pursuits, although there wasn't much she could do about Abe's Pa. Dad saw things differently and whipped Abe's ass for readin' when he shouldda been workin'. In dad's defense, memorizing the 23rd Psalm wasn't going to get a roof over their heads or food in their stomachs.

2. Stepmom. Sarah Johnston Lincoln. After Nancy's death, Thomas Lincoln left his 2 small kids to fend for themselves for about 6 months while he searched for a new wife. Shockingly, DCFS was not contacted, although Sarah found Abe and his sister cold, hungry and filthy when she came back with Thomas. She cleaned them up and brought books for the future President to mull over by firelight. She was notably one of the first to treat him with love and kindness.

3. Sis. Sarah. Died in childbirth at the age of 20 which sent him into a depressive tailspin. He blamed Sarah's husband for not caring for her properly when she went into labor.

4. Ann Rutledge. Do I need to explain? Is she a legend just in Illinois or does everyone know about her? You tell me. You need me to explain, I will. But get your kleenex ---- Lincoln depressive nosedive #2. Ann's grave is marked with these words: "Where Lincoln Wept". Need I say more?

5. Mary Owens. The New Salem storekeeper "proposed" to this Mary before she went away on a family trip to Kentucky. When she returned, she apparently had been eatin' pretty good and had beefed up to frightening proportions. He might have been worried that she could do some damage to his underweight frame in a moment of unbridled passion -- and ended it the way men have ended relationships for centuries. He manipulated the data so she had no other option but to end it herself.

6. Local Springfield working girl. (Oh, c'mon! -- really!) Story is he visited her after being told of her "services" by a mutual friend, Joshua Speed. The higher class "working girls" only accepted referrals from other clients, and Abe's friend gave him a note of introduction. The woman gave him the thumbs up, and she told him as he was unbuttoning his pants that the charge was $5.00 (quite a hefty sum considering the average person yanked in $2000 a year). He told her he only had $3.00. She laughed and said she knew who he was...a Springfield lawyer...and would trust him for the other 2 dollars. The story goes that Lincoln told her no, that he could not promise when he could pay her the other 2 dollars, so he buttoned up his trousers and started to leave. He tried to leave her the $3.00 for the time she spent with him, but she would not take it.

7. Mary Todd. I think she drove him crazy, but he seemed to remain crazy about her until the day he died. Anyway, they were introduced, then engaged, then sort of not engaged (depressive dive #3), then story says she used her wiles on him one dark and stormy night and they married within days. Robert Todd Lincoln was born 3 days short of their 9 month anniversary. Sure. She got pregnant on the honeymoon they didn't take. Happens ALL the time...but my guess is ol' Abe was smart enough to realize that once you "did it" before marriage with a society girl like Mary (not that I'm suggesting they DID, mind you...altho he did say Robert was "full of mischief that is the offspring of much animal spirits"), your ass better be at the justice of the peace ASAP before a piece of you was gunned down by her pa.

8. Matilda Edwards. During his "split" with Mary, he was introduced to her cousin, Matilda Edwards and fell in love with the 18 year old (as many 30 year old men do). Mary Todd's cousin was a beauty...she was young, pretty, quick witted and thin...and gave rise to his thinking that he did not really love Mary Todd. However, the future Mrs. Lincoln had other ideas...and I bet there was some tension over the family dinner table once Abe started courtin' Matilda. Mary managed to reem Abe a new one every time she saw him, knowing which buttons to push by telling him he was "honor bound" to marry her. He mulled this over for about 15 months until that one dark and stormy night.....and after Matilda turned down his marriage proposal.

9. Kate Chase. Mary hated her because she was like Matilda -- young, pretty, politically saavy and thin. Kate's dad was Salmon Chase, a presidential hopeful and part of the Lincoln administration. Abe admired her intelligence, her poise. His eyes adored her, but he never laid a hand on her. And if he had, Mary would have killed both of them.

10. Anna Ella Carroll. She wrote pamphlets that supported Lincoln's policies and singlehandedly helped to keep Maryland in the union. "I am writing to aid my country," she said. She was good at it and Lincoln knew it. While she did ask to be paid for her work and was refused, Lincoln did compliment her works to his cabinet members and acknowledged her talents to many.

11. Miss Grace Bedell, 11 years old. She wrote him a letter that changed how the world saw Mr. Abraham Lincoln, Springfield Lawyer, Presidential Elect, from that point forward. "Dear Mr. Lincoln", she wrote, "you ought to grow a beard. All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husbands to vote for you." He apparently listened.

12. Eliza Gurney. An amazing woman, they exchanged numerous letters over the course of his Presidency. She also visited him at the White house. She was the Quaker widow of a British banker who strengthened Lincoln's faith during the difficult years of war and personal loss. Some say she was one of the most important women in Lincoln's life and the topics they wrote and conversed about were imported into Lincoln's 2nd Inaugural Address.

13. Vinnie Ream. Mary hated her. She was young, beautiful and a talented sculptress. At 17, she eventually gained Lincoln's trust and started work on a bust of him, which continued throughout the winter of 1864-5. They became good friends and the finished bust was a hit with Lincoln, who was a noted supporter of woman suffrage. After Lincoln's assassination, Ream coveted the $10,000 commission to do a life-sized statue for the Capitol, although she met with alot of resistance, some from Mary. Vinnie eventually became the first woman, and at 19, the youngest artist, to ever get a federal commission for a work of art.

There were so many others: Harriet Beecher Stowe, Sojourner Truth, Lizzie Keckley, Dorothea Dix and finally, actress Laura Keene, who was in "Our American Cousin" at the Ford Theater and rushed to the presidential box after the shooting to cradle Lincoln's head in her lap.


Lisa said...

I enjoyed visiting your blog!

Shesawriter said...

Can't believe it was a kid that got him to grow that beard! Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

Happy TT!

My Thursday Thirteen is: 13 of the sexiest and/or most romantic love scene clips on film.

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

Wow, I didn't know much of this. Great information. Have a great TT. :)

Nicholas said...

I'm sure he loved Mary but she does seem a tad insufferable!

That's a very interesting list. Most of it new to me. thanks for taking the trouble.

Anonymous said...

I love that Abe was so honorable with a working girl. Was it illegal back then? (I ask because Matt Dillon never busted Miss Kitty.) I've been a big fan of Kate Chase's since A Team of Rivals. And I'm glad you enjoyed our trip. Next you should do a TT about Roy Bertelli.


Natalie said...

That's interesting stuff, I never knew all that.

My T13 post is up, come check it out if you get a chance. :)

damozel said...

I wish someone would do a miniseries about Lincoln's life that focused on some of the personal stuff. People become so much more real when you know these details. The Flatland Almanack --Damozel

Darla said...

I only knew about a handful of these--thanks for all the info!

The Mocha Mom said...

Very informative list! Great job!! Mine is up too.

Believer in Balance said...

Fascinating! I had no idea Lincoln was so popular with the ladies!

Nicole said...

Nope, no idea who Ann Rutledge is, though I do wonder if she's related to either of the Rutledges who sat on the Second Continental Congress.

Happy TT!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Awesome stuff, Lara! I didn't know most of this, so I'm glad you're teaching me now.

Have you heard the latest theory about Lincoln having some odd illness? It was in the paper a few weeks ago and it sounded like a plausible theory.

Happy TT, babe! Been missing you!

No Nonsense Girl said...

sorry I'm soo late!!!! Happy belated TT!!!