Description

    Mary Todd Lincoln mourns the death of her beloved son Willie

    Mary Lincoln Autograph Letter Signed on Mourning Stationery. Six and a quarter pages, 5.25" x 6.5", "May 29th [1862] Executive Mansion". Mary writes to a friend and neighbor from her days in Springfield, Mrs. John C. Sprigg. In full:

    My Dear Mrs Sprigg:

    Your very welcome letter was received two weeks since, and my sadness & ill health have alone prevented my replying to it. We have met with so overwhelming an affliction in the death of our beloved Willie a being too precious for earth, that I am so completely unnerved, that I can scarcely command myself to write - What would give to see you & talk to you in our crushing bereavement, if any one's presence could afford comfort - it would be yours. You were always a good friend & dearly have I loved you. All that human skill could do was done for our sainted boy, I fully believe the severe illness, he passed through, now, almost two years since, was but a warning to us that one so pure, was not to remain long here and at the same time, he was lent us a little longer - to try us & wean us from our world, whose chains were fastening around us & when the blow came if found us unprepared to meet it. Our home is very beautiful, the grounds around us are enchanting the world still smiles & pays homage, yet the charm is dispelled - everything appears a mockery, the idolized one is not with us, he has fulfilled his mission and we are left desolate. When I think over his short but happy childhood, how much comfort he always was to me, and how fearfully I always found my hopes concentrating on so good a boy as he was - when I can bring myself to realize that he has indeed passed away my question to myself is 'can life be endured?' Dear little Taddie who was so devoted to his darling Brother, although is deeply afflicted as ourselves, bears up and teaches us a lesson, in enduring the stroke, to which we must submit. Robert will be home from Cambridge in about six weeks and will spend his vacation with us. He has grown & improved more than any one you ever saw. Well we ever meet & talk together as we have done. Time time how many sad changes it brings. The 1st of July we go out to the 'Soldier's Home', a very charming place 2 ½ miles from the city, several hundred feet above our present situation, to pass the summer. I dread that it will be a greater resort than here if possible, when we are in sorrow quiet is very necessary to is. Mr. dubois, I suppose has reached home, ere this. I see by the papers that Mr. Burch is married - We have some pieces of furniture still remaining at his house, may I ask a favor of you. It is this. If Mr. black can have room for them, can they be moved to any place above his store, where he may have room for them. The sofa, at Mr. Burch's, was new. A few months before we left. May I also ask you to speak to Mr. Black, and see if the 8 boxes we left with him are all there. I fear we have been troublesome friends. I send you a list of the articles sent me by Mr. B. If you feel the least delicacy about this - I will not wish you to do it. Whenever you have leisure, I hope you will write me. With love to you all, I remain ever your attached friend Mary Lincoln.

    William Wallace Lincoln ("Willie") (1850-1862) was the third son born to Mary Todd and Abraham Lincoln. He was named after Dr. William Wallace, who had nursed Eddie Lincoln (their second born) in the final days of his life. Willie died on February 20, 1862, likely of typhoid fever. Both mother and father were equally grieved by the profound loss. It is said Lincoln abstained from official correspondence for four days; and Mary's already fragile emotional state was pushed to its limits. She would never fully recuperate from the loss. Willie was laid out in the Green Room the day after his death. After placing a sprig of laurel on his chest, Mary left the room and never crossed its door again. She also never re-entered the room where he died. This letter poignantly captures her grief three months later, and likely isolation in the White House; far from the simpler times that Springfield represented.

    Letter has deep folds, and separations thereat. Exterior page of the second bifolium has soiling, affecting her signature.


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    Auction Dates
    April, 2011
    8th-9th Friday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
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