Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Love is Eternal

On this date in 1842 Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd where joined together in holy matrimony.  The couple where married in the bride's sister's home in Springfield, IL.  Mary's sister, Elizabeth Edwards, had objected to the match and had played a role in the couple's separation.  In this battle of will, Mary Todd was determined to get what she wanted--and she wanted to marry Abraham Lincoln.  With the help of sympathetic friends, the couple resumed their courtship in secret and got engaged.  In fact, Elizabeth Edwards was only informed of the engagement when Mary announced on the morning of November 2 that she was going to marry Lincoln that evening!

Realizing that she had lost, and worried that it would look bad that Mary was married elsewhere--as Elizabeth had been charged to look after her younger sister and act as her chaperon--Elizabeth declared that Mary would marry in the Edwards' mansion.  It was a rushed wedding, Mary had to borrow the white muslin dress she wore from another married sister.  Legend holds that when the wedding cake was cut it was still warm from the oven.

Historians like to debate about the background of the wedding.  Some insist that Mary lured Abraham into a marriage that he did not want.  I strongly disagree with that, my research into Lincoln's character shows a man that could never be convinced to do something that he did not want to do.  He had already extracted himself from an engagement when he realized that he did not love Mary Owens.  Those who see Mary as the villain like to point out a statement Lincoln made before going to his wedding.  The son of his landlady spotted him leaving his lodgings and seeing the usually sloppily dressed Lincoln dressed in his best suit asked him where he was going.  Lincoln responded that he was going to hell.

My interpretation of this statement is that Lincoln was nervous before his marriage, and was likely concerned that Elizabeth would try to prevent the wedding.  Besides the meddling of Elizabeth, Lincoln had also broken his first engagement to Mary because he felt that he was unworthy to have the wealthy and cultured Mary Todd.  The Todds' were wealthy and Mary had been raised in the lap of luxury.  Lincoln worried that he could never support Mary in the style that she had become accustomed too.  After all he was only a poor country lawyer with only the promise of a successful political career.  But Mary did not care!  She loved Abraham and would have no other man but him.

The couple was married that evening, a hundred and seventy years ago tonight, in the parlor of Elizabeth Edwards with only thirty guests in attendance.  And when it came time for Abraham Lincoln to slip the wedding ring on the fourth finger of Mary's left hand the ring carried this inscription, "A.L to Mary, Nov. 4 1842.  Love is Eternal."  Mary would wear this ring on her left hand for the remainder of her life--in fact Abraham was holding Mary's left hand when he was shot by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865.  Upon her death on July 16, 1882, Mary was buried wearing her wedding ring and the ring still rests with her in the Lincoln tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery.

(As a side note, Abraham Lincoln never wore a wedding ring as men of the time did not wear wedding rings--this tradition would only come into fashion around World War II.)

Happy 172nd Anniversary Abraham and Mary Lincoln!


(For more information and great images related to the wedding of Abraham and Mary Lincoln visit: http://rogerjnorton.com/Lincoln49.html)

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