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Historian finds copies of letters by Lincoln's wife

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.kcchronicle.com/MainSection/298303385337562.php Historian finds copies of letters by Lincoln s wife SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Copies of long-lost letters
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 4, 2006
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      http://www.kcchronicle.com/MainSection/298303385337562.php

      Historian finds copies of letters by Lincoln's wife

      SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Copies of long-lost letters written
      by Abraham Lincoln's wife during her stay at a
      sanitarium have been discovered in a steamer trunk in
      a Maryland attic, according to a published report.

      The Lincolns' son Robert is thought to have burned the
      letters to hide details about the mental health of his
      mother, Mary Todd Lincoln. Robert Lincoln was
      instrumental in arranging his mother's 1875 insanity
      trial and commitment to a private sanitarium in
      Batavia.

      Last summer, historian Jason Emerson, of
      Fredericksburg, Va., came across photographed and
      handwritten copies of the letters at the home of the
      descendants of one of Robert's family lawyers.
      Kane County Chronicle Photo Archives

      Emerson also uncovered a 111-page manuscript about
      Mary Todd Lincoln's insanity case, written by the
      granddaughter of Mary's legal advisers, Myra and James
      Bradwell. The find won't cause a major rewrite of
      history, but will add detail to what's known, one
      Lincoln expert said.

      "Clearly, everyone is going to look at this," Lincoln
      expert Tom Schwartz, interim director of the Abraham
      Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in
      Springfield, told the (Springfield) State
      Journal-Register.

      "I don't see any major revelations, but again, I'm not
      working on an extensive biography of any of the
      leading players, either," Schwartz said. "So much of
      the story has been pieced together by existing
      information."

      Emerson is writing a book for Southern Illinois
      University Press about the letters.

      "(The letters) show Mary questioning her religious
      faith, illuminate her continuing mania about money and
      clothing, and perhaps most interesting, reveal the
      Bradwells to have been more instrumental than
      previously known both in securing her release and in
      causing her resentment of Robert," Emerson writes in
      the June-July issue of American Heritage magazine.

      Some of the 25 Mary Todd Lincoln letters Emerson
      discovered were written during her visit to Europe
      after her release from Bellevue Place, the sanitarium
      in Batavia. Her mental state had improved by then, the
      letters reveal.

      "They are calm, rational and cogent, full of
      descriptions of her travels and inquiries about
      friends and events at home," Emerson writes in the
      magazine.

      The historian believes the lawyers of Robert Lincoln
      and wife, Mary Harlan Lincoln, kept copies of the
      letters and stored them in the steamer trunk, which
      was left to their children.

      ——

      On the Net:

      American Heritage: http://www.americanheritage.com
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