tv First Ladies Influence Image CSPAN June 15, 2015 12:01am-1:34am EDT
>> like many of us, first families take vacation time. a good read can be the perfect companion. what better book than the one that peers inside the personal lives of every first lady. "first lady's," inspiring stories of fascinating women who survived the scrutiny of the white house. available from public affairs as a hardcover or an e-book. >> american history tv is featuring the original series, first ladies, at 8:00 eastern time on sunday nights throughout the rest of the year. c-span produced the series in cooperation with the white house historical association.
through conversations with experts, and questions from c-span's audience, we tell the stories of america's 45 first ladies. now, mary todd lincoln, on "first ladies -- influence an image or go." >> born in 1818 in lexington kentucky, mary todd grew up and lived to see her husband issued the emancipation proclamation 45 years later. a mother of four sons, she witnessed the death of three of those sons as well as her husband's assassination. her life was filled with tragedy, but as lincoln's political partner, she relished in his success. a look at the life and times of mary todd lincoln, one of the most complex first lady's. thank you for joining us on
“first ladies: influence and image.” we invite to of our academic advisers. rosalyn penn is a history professor at meredith and morgan state university. at the table again is the director of five presidential libraries including the abraham lincoln library in springfield illinois and a presidential biographer. thank you for being here. we will start with richard. mary todd is often viewed in broad strokes. criticism of her lavish spending and overly indulgent mother. if you look at a more nuanced picture, what do you see? >> that is why we need to get 90 minutes, to begin to get at the nuances. has been called the great american story, an integral part of the great american story.
steven spielberg doesn't make movies about julia tyler or louisa adams. mary todd lincoln remains someone who is symbolically divisive, perhaps. to some, a heroin, others a victim. she is a surprisingly contemporary figure as well. >> i like her because she is so complex. i say i like her. elizabeth was her dressmaker and companion. she did not live at the white house a good deal of time. formerly enslaved, purchased her own freedom and was interviewed along with other women to become the first lady's seamstress. or modess, as they called it.
she made the most beautiful dresses. >> what do you learn about mrs. lincoln through elizabeth keckley's eyes? >> it gives you a very concrete sketch of the relationship she had with her for four years. just reading what elizabeth tells you gives you an idea of how complex and hurt and victimized she was. >> it is the most intimate portrait we have of mary. >> we will begin our new lost image, we call her mary todd. she signed it mary lincoln. where did mary todd come from?
>> it was modern. she did not use it as i understand. >> lincoln famously said mocking the pretensions of his wife's family, gone are the time when the todd's needed one d. a thousand times she heard that joke. he's 6 foot 4, she's 5 foot 2 if that. he had a habit of introducing themselves as the law and the short of that, another joke she endured more than enjoyed. >> these programs work because they are interactive and we will get to phone calls. you can also go to the facebook page or tweet using #firstladies. let's take a brief look at what
the country looked like. 31 million people in 33 states but 11 were going to break off to form the confederate states of america. 35.6% growth since 1850 continuing to grow at an enormous pace. 3.9 million slaves, 12.7% of the population. the largest cities were new york, philadelphia, and brooklyn, and baltimore. they arrive at the white house. set the scene for the election and how tumultuous politics were. >> the political process had broken down. there were four parties that ran in 1860. the democratic party that was
the one truly national political organization split into northern and southern wings, divided over the issue of slavery. stephen douglass, lincoln's longtime rival and at one point romantic rival for mary's hand is the democratic nominee from the north. vice president breckinridge is the southern democratic candidate. they disappeared in the middle of the decade, they nominated john bell from tennessee middle-of-the-road and support the constitution platform. the republicans were defined as anti-slavery, but not radically anti-slavery. they were all about containing the spread of slavery. lincoln along with 40% of the vote, the news of his election
reached the state's almost immediately to secede. >> the white house that the first lady in here it was the domain of. harriet lane, admired for her social skills even though the country was fracturing. >> historian catherine clinton said that in one of her biographies, she broke the elite virginia scheme of things. many of the congressional wives at some of the women that were very important during the virginian times were resentful. they lampooned them. lincoln and her. the sad thing was, she was a
very intelligent and highly educated woman from the family in terms of what you consider wealthy and good families. but they treated her very badly. the other thing that might have hit her is that washington was a swamp. >> in many ways. >> when i came to washington, it was mosquito-ridden. that was not 150 years ago. i am sure she had a difficult time dealing with that. she complained about how drab and worn the white house itself was. some of the furniture was back to the days of dolly madison. she had a lot to worry about. >> if you think of the repercussions of this woman arriving from kentucky, referred to as the republican queen
mocked by people that do not know her and willing to assume the worst about these banquets it puts a chip on her shoulder even before she arrives in the capital. it might begin explain some of her shopping, some of her preoccupation with fixing up the white house, for example. >> and we have a quote from her, her rationale for why she spent so much money on her own attire. "i must address myself in this attire because people who scrutinize every article i wear with curiosity. the fact i have grown up in the west subject to more searching observation." when she interviews elizabeth keckley, she asks how much she will charge for her dresses. >> keckley says, i will be
reasonable. they came to an agreement. my theory is that she wanted a lot of dresses but could not afford to pay lavishly. on her budget, she was able to get what she wanted because keckley agreed not to overcharge her. >> paint a portrait of what life was like in the lincoln white house as a family living there and the public using the space. >> it was astonishingly open to the public. in the middle of the great civil war that is raging, twice a week, the president would throw open his office and people could line up as long as they could wait for his public opinion badge. these were mostly job-seekers. mrs. lincoln, the children
finessed themselves around these folks. the two boys at the beginning, of course. willie was 10 years old when they arrived, and his younger brother. robert have got off to harvard. there was another brother that they lost years earlier in springfield. mrs. lincoln looked upon the white house very much as a symbol of this nation. they took seriously the responsibilities. as the woman responsible for the appearance of the house, remember that this was a time when the country was coming
apart at the seams. the symbolic value of america's house is even greater. in some ways, she took the same view of the white house. >> this network produced a documentary on the white house and we visited the lincoln bedroom. we will show you that next to show you the kind of spending that mary lincoln did on the furniture. >> it dates back to 1861, bought by mary todd lincoln as part of white house refurbishing. 8 feet long, 6 feet wide, made of carved rosewood. >> the lincoln bed with a purple and gold and lace. victoria and decorating. we have later photographs with the bed still dressed the way that she dressed it. >> it is this bed bought by mary lincoln that holds the key to understanding the lincoln
family's time here. >> it was one of mary lincoln's many extravagant purchases when she began a campaign to redecorate this entire building. >> she spent so much money, and he flew into a rage and said it was a stink in the nostrils of the american people. she was dying flub-dubs for that damned old house. >> in 1862, lincoln's middle son died after a bout with typhoid fever. mary never went into the room or looked at the bed again. >> willie's death -- lincoln
took to the window and let her look across the river at a mental institution. “if you don't get a hold of yourself, you will have to be put there.” that was her time to absorb it. >> by contrast, it would hole up the week he died just to grieve. how they handle their grief goes to how we see them today. in the case of mary, it unhinged her. the final blow. the war melded the disparate elements of lincoln's personality and his grief. his loss of willie morphed into the nation's sense of loss. millions of homes throughout the union.
>> it was a different interpretation. congress allotted her $20,000, four years later, they allotted $125,000 for refurbishing. >> she did not have enough money to spend. >> how could she have spent some much if they only allocated $20,000? was it all on that one bad? >> she overspent the $20,000 by about $6,000. >> there was a war going on. it is part of the legend and the myth. the out-of-control shop-a-holic.
>> a political aspect of that, too. how did they react when there were so many sons of mother's dying on the battlefield? >> she basically disappeared for over one year. her social life ended for over a year. she ordered the marine band to stop playing concert on the white house grounds, maybe they could move to lafayette park. her grief was too great. she indulged herself even beyond the standards of the day. her compatriot was queen victoria that would spend the rest of her life grieving over the loss of prince albert. >> what brought her out of her grief?
>> she was continuing to be vilified. her son, robert, who was really a disappointment in the long run, had her incarcerated and sent into a mental institution. she decided, i am going to get out of here. she was able to mobilize to get her out of the mental institution. >> i don't think she ever really recovered from the loss of willie. >> it was not just willie. at the loss of edward, her husband, tad. >> and the loss of her mother that sent her to springfield in the first place. her life is shattered by loss.
>> tell me how she served as the first lady to the president. her intuition about individuals is more accurate than that of her husband. does lincoln listen to her? >> think that she tried to advise him but his advisers did not want her interfering. that was definitely the case when he was dying and they to occur from the room and would not let her in to mourn, which was a traditional thing in her culture. the wife stays with the husband until he dies. they robbed her of that. >> gary robinson asks, did mary lincoln create enemies out of social rivals?
who was our main antagonist? >> she had a number of rivals. the daughter of the secretary of the treasury made no secret about wanting to replace lincoln in the white house. kate was quite the belle of the ball. it is safe to say that mrs. lincoln had no great love lost for kate. part of the legend, and it is accurate, the stories of her accompanying the president to the battlefield near the end of the war. she lost it. the reason the grants did not go was because julia grant did not
want to risk having another confrontation with this unpleasant woman. >> what did the staffing of her? >> they liked her. only four of the staff remained when the lincolns came to the white house. they brought in freed blacks. those that were interviewed talked about her in a very positive way. she got along well with them because they were the ones that helped raise her after her real mother died. >> lincoln's personal secretary did not use the best descriptions of her. >> as a young man, they have their own reasons to resent. they both had nicknames that the
secretaries used to refer to them. >> outside of washington, what was the perception of the first family? >> that is a great question. if you read the press of the day, there was a considerable amount of criticism. if she had been more press-conscious, we know how much time she spent visiting soldiers and hospitals. writing letters to soldiers that were unable to write themselves. taking food and gifts. and she never took reporters along with her. if she had been a little bit more p.r.-conscious, who knows what it might have done?
>> the press followed her into every store they went into. that is what they reported those kinds of things. >> ron, you're on. go ahead, please. >> you have indicated that there continues to be great controversy among historians and biographers over the lincoln marriage. the first school of thought was initially presented in a biography by his law partner based on his post-assassination interviews with the multitude of lincolns, colleagues, neighbors, servants, etc. they reinforced the view that she was a domestic hell on earth with frequent outbursts with multiple instances of thrown objects including a piece of fire would that resulted in her battered husband having a broken
nose. the other is presented as an appealing love story that reflects the deep skepticism over the veracity of the informants. about the super abundance of evidence to the contrary for both the pre-presidential and a presidential periods. scholars have given more credence to her written as the money. this is culminated in the 2008 biography. >> in the interest of time, do you want to know which they think is more correct? >> one more thing i want to add. james mcpherson criticized the relentless hostility towards the lincolns which marred the image. my question is, what is your
assessment of the depiction of mary lincoln and what is their assessment of the motion picture's portrayal? >> are you familiar? >> michael is hostile to mary, certainly amassed a great deal of evidence to support his view. eleanor and franklin people, and they are pretty much abraham and married people. there are people that will not set on the same stage at scholarly symposiums. they are so committed to one or the other and how passionate these historians feel. >> abraham seemed committed to
marry. >> and that is the ultimate test, in some ways. >> i wonder if he has read catherine clinton's biography of mrs. lincoln where she engages him. you have to really look at the reasons why people write biographies or books. he was angry. and later took it out on mary. from what i have heard, you have to look at the motives behind the books. >> i asked what you thought of the modern portrayal. >> it was wonderful precisely because it transcends all of these camps. >> i agree.
from mary lincoln about her own view at the public perception, i seem to be the scapegoat for both the north and the south. we will show you next, another video. a woman at her summer cottage not very far from the capital to call the soldiers home. >> president lincoln's cottage was a seasonal home for the lincoln family. mary lincoln really pushed for the move out here to the soldiers home because she thought it was a place for her family to have more privacy than at the white house. we are in the mary lincoln room which is not part of our typical experience of the cottage. we call it the mary lincoln room because when they moved here in the summer of 1863, she is involved in a pretty serious
carriage accident. some believe the carriage had been tampered with and this was an early assassination attempt. when she suffered that accident, the driver's seat separate from the carriage and the horses are startled at take off, she had to leap out of the carriage in order to save herself. she suffered a head injury. she is treated at the white house, and she comes out to the soldiers home to make a recovery. not only is it the most isolated of the bedrooms, but it is the only one with windows allowing for better cross-breezes. in 1862, there is the imperative of having a more private place to mourn and grieve after the death of willie.
mary lincoln was going about the traditional cultural and social expectations of a woman in morning and felt like she could not do it as effectively at the white house. for her, there was a personal imperative to come out to this home to grieve the loss of her son. one of the best documented events that actually took place is a séance hosted here after the death of willie. noah brooks writes about that account. lincoln felt that mary was being taken advantage of and that she might be subject to blackmail. he asked for some of his colleagues and friends to check out the situation and see if they could figure out what the medium is doing and figure out how to make the noises he was
claiming were spirits. here at the soldiers home, he recounts noises they were hearing in when the lights turned on, they were able to prove he was a fraud. it does not seem that she was aware that she was being defrauded. after it was revealed this man was a fake, she was quite embarrassed by that. and there was an attempt to conceal or cover up the incident. whenever she writes about this place, she talks about how much she was looking forward to coming out here. she sought as fulfilling her dream of what her family would experience in washington, d.c. even though death and of the war were surrounding them, it gave them a little bit of respite from the chaos of downtown washington d.c.
>> it is available for public tours, put it on your list of out of the way spots, a time capsule for history. you were visibly wanting to react to the spiritualism. >> this is in some ways the lincoln president in miniature. there is a school of thought that says her condition worsened after that very severe head injury that she experienced. the date is significant, july 2, 1863. the second day of the battle of gettysburg. the president's attention is focused elsewhere. gettysburg and vicksburg, he did not pay as much attention to his wife. >> is there speculation that the carriage accident was an assassination attempt?
after the election, there was a document to the assassination attempt the pinkerton service saved them from. there was a constant threat on the lives of these people. that stress we should take into account. >> she was living through all of that. it was a horrible time to be in the white house, i would think. >> we are in the midst of a five-year marking of the civil war events. we could not capture all of the tumultuous and significant events, but here are a few of them. 1861, the civil war began. 1863, they issued the emancipation proclamation.
and as richard said, the gettysburg address. 1865, the thirteenth amendment abolishing slavery is proposed. and april 9, the court house in virginia, the confederate army surrenders. it bookends the lincoln administration. you mentioned her unannounced visits to military hospitals. >> that goes to the controversy. there is a significant body of evidence that calls into question some of her conduct. for example, she was surrounded by people that very clearly were there to take advantage of her. she needed money. never forget the fact that from
the day she arrived there, she needed money. she needed money because she was $27,000 in debt to her dress makers. the president had to be reelected because if he was, she could keep those bills that day. if he was not, who knew what might happen? she was spending public funds on the white house proper. there were always people around her that were eager to serve their own interests by appearing to serve hers. there was a shady character by the name of henry, a chevalier of the new york herald. he befriended her and the president's annual message to congress in 1861 appeared in the new york herald the same day it
went to congress. you get the picture. there was no shortage of people like the chevalier that were eager to line their own pockets or serve their own interests. i think the legitimate criticism of mrs. lincoln has nothing to do with her mental condition. you can only feel empathetic for that. but legitimately, there is criticism about how she conducted herself in ways that were always a danger, if exposed, of embarrassing the president. >> it was the gardener that took the letter and gave it to the press. >> that was the story that was --
>> and then the gardener leaves for scotland. he must have been paid to do this. >> the other side of the argument is that it was the story they created to cover up what happened. >> candace in fredericksburg virginia. >> i am enjoying the show very much. i have a question regarding the broken first engagement and then they got back together a year-and-a-half later. why do you think they broke up? and did they get back together? did lincoln love her throughout their marriage? >> i will hold the question because as the program progresses, we will go back in
time and answer your question, i promise. let's take another from chad. >> my question is about elizabeth keckley. she served with mary lincoln i'm not sure? >> she made dress as for a variety of people including jefferson davis's wife. was very popular. she had her own shop. she did not live in the white house. she had her own residence, a place that she rented. and she was very popular among congressional wives that recommended her to mrs. lincoln. she bought her freedom in st. louis through dress making. >> as the lincolns traveled back and forth, they had contraband camps. >> people escaping from slavery, in particular, with their
families. or enslaved people that were emancipated but had no place to go. there were several contraband associations across the nation. mrs. keckley was one of the founders of the washington of band association. >> we have many people on facebook and twitter asking us questions about her views on slavery. since she was friends with henry clay, did she also prescribe to the gradual emancipation and colonization of the slaves? or did you follow lincoln's change of heart and scrapping the colonization efforts?
was she anti-slavery and support the 13th amendment. >> she was anti-slavery and certainly supported the thirteenth amendment. >> they say she influenced the president into the immediate emancipation, but i think it was a war strategy. >> i think you are right. >> she was encouraging him to go ahead and do it. >> henry clay, in some wasy, what brought them together was to be shared love of politics. again, a lady of the era and in particular, henry clay was a neighbor and good friend lincoln's political hero. in some ways, he is the
political matchmaker behind this unlikely union. >> our next visit is to springfield, illinois. the place where abraham and mary would meet. let's talk about the collections to the lincoln library, the first lady artifacts. we will learn more about how that city preserves our memory. >> here we have some things that mary lincoln had in the white house. she continued to be interested in books. here are two volumes of what we think was a 27-volume set of the works of sir edward bulwer lytton. not a name recognized today, but this novel is remembered. "the last days of pompeii."
signed these books 1864. she was a pretty good writer of letters. monogram m.l. on it. notice no "t" in there. she never called herself mary todd lincoln, she never called herself mary t. lincoln. she was mrs. lincoln, mrs. abraham lincoln, or mrs. president lincoln. mary todd is a 20th-century invention. this is the letter that shows some of her difficulties in the sense that her reputation suffered. she is writing to the assistant secretary of the treasury. asking if he can find a job for her dress maker, elizabeth
keckley because she does no longer need the services and wants to get elizabeth onto the jobs list at the treasury. "i promise i will never ask you for another favor." of course, she did. over and over. personally, it was the death of willie. this was a piece of sheet music that we just acquired, only two copies report it anywhere. we suppose there are a few out there. it is hard to imagine how many people would have wanted to buy this outside of the lincoln's immediate circle of friends.
a substantial publisher in new york, william hall, printed it. he was the first child to die in the white house and not one of only two presidential children to die in the white house. >> from springfield, illinois. going back to her need for money, abraham lincoln was a very successful lawyer in springfield. he worked the railroads and made quite a bit of money. what was his income? >> that is a great point. it is interesting. if you go back and look at the accounts, her money seems to be something that started with washington. there are friends and neighbors that talk about how thrifty she was.
what a good housekeeper she was during his legal days. we talked about it a little bit already, she was a national figure representing people. people were condescending to her and her husband. she had a place of status and an appearance to maintain. i think it was as simple as that. i think it got out of hand. $85,000 was in his estate at the time of his death. his widow would inherit 1/3. you would think that she was in debt $27,000. >> she got duplicates, hundreds
sometimes, of parasols and things. >> that is true, that is the nature. over time, it became more pronounced that she would go and buy dozens of sets of gloves at a given time. >> wearing gloves in washington with all of those people coming in, i am sure she was aware of the germs people had. i think that was a significant thing. mrs. keckley kept some gloves of the president that mrs. lincoln took off of his hands and gave to her. whenever there were meetings and people coming by, they wore gloves. this was in the movie, this was real.
the movie showed his servant saying that mrs. lincoln wants you to wear these gloves. she knew about the disease. >> but she did buy 300 sets of these -- >> one of the touching and counterpoints to this is that lincoln loved to see her in beautiful clothes. it was one of the few extravagances he was comfortable with. >> indulgent on one hand and critical in the other? >> i would say he is more indulgent than critical. >> we can't do justice to the tumultuous years in the white house, but was there a question he was going to seek reelection? >> there was no question he would seek reelection but a profound question of if he would be. it was wholly dependent on the course of the war.
atlanta had fallen, it became very clear it was only a question of time that the north would win. lincoln himself believed he would not be reelected. you can imagine the move upstairs around mrs. lincoln. >> he had bouts of melancholy. a lot of them. she was one of the few people that could bring him out of bed. >> here is what mary lincoln had to say shortly after the reelection. "our heavenly father sees fit to visit us at such times for our worldliness. how small and insignificant world honors are when we are so surely tried." >> there is still part of the debate about lincoln.
clearly, mary was a devout churchgoer. she had some doubts planted by the death of willie. lincoln himself never joined a church, but even as far back as springfield, he spent hours and hours with the minister going over the bible. he knew his king james bible front and back. in some ways, how he taught himself to write. >> 1865, they were pretty avid theatergoers and to make a decision to go to ford's theater where he is assassinated. tell us of his death and mary's role. >> she witnesses it.
she cries out, the president has been shot. people assume that it is part of the show. they take him across the street to a boarding house. he is sick. it was very strange that his cabinet members are all around him while the doctor is there and she is hysterical. i guess that she would be, you know? they get one of her female friends to take her out of the room and a keeper there. it takes him all night to pass away. >> 7:22 in the morning. >> right. the sad thing is they would not let her see him at the end
because they did not want to hear her hysteria, from what i gathered. >> the secretary of state took charge of the house that night and said, take the woman out of the room. robert todd lincoln was at his father's bedside, but mary was not there. >> let's hear a call from st. petersburg, florida. you there? >> yes. first, thank you for taking my call. i have enjoyed the entire series and i have followed it with margaret truman's biography of the first ladies. devotes quite a bit of time to mary todd lincoln and remarks that she ranks at the very bottom of the list. i don't agree with that, and i
wonder how your commentators would also rank her in terms of first ladies. >> oh, boy. put it this way. i certainly would disagree with those that would rank occur at or near the bottom. it is a less than compassionate thing. i also think her years and her story is really unique in the annals of white house history. i think she is a unique figure. hundreds of years later, we are having this discussion and still debating her motives, it tells you that she is an important first lady. i will leave it at that. >> important because of the man to whom she was married? >> important because of the man,
important because of the part she plays in the story that is still being debated after all of these years. we still feel as if we do not know who she was and we are not having this debate over angelica zander and. >> she is one of my favorites. not my true favorite, but i divide them up into eighteenth nineteenth, and 20-twenty first century. among the nineteenth century once, she and abigail adams would be my favorite. i rank her quite high. you have to look at her vision as a partner. there were several first ladies that consider themselves to be partners with their husband.
not that they were trying to tell them what to do, but to advise and take care of them whether mentally, physically, or politically. i think she was a very significant influence. >> she is a tragic figure. part of the tragedy is that very partnership that helped contribute to him becoming president was destroyed by the war and what they hoped to achieve. >> the vilification. >> dublin. >> this is a wonderful program. i watch every night. carl sandberg's lincoln television movie in 1974. today's is good, but people should watch this type of movie.
you can also talk about his body almost stolen from his crypt at the time. there is so much information about the lincolns, it would take a year to earth up. i would rank her with roosevelt and kennedy. >> 100 years later when john f. kennedy was assassinated jacqueline would look to the plans for the lincoln funeral to guide her through the decisions of the kennedy funeral. >> the lincoln funeral, was nothing like it before or since. 20 days, they retraced the inauguration route from springfield the washington.
with a couple of exceptions, they retraced that route. there were 10, in effect, state funerals along the way. 1/3 of every northern american either looked upon the president's face in his casket or saw the train go by. it was an extraordinary pageant of grief. very victorian. mrs. lincoln got along for any of it. keeping with tradition, she stayed at the white house grief-stricken. >> elizabeth keckley ascribes her missing the celebrations and wailing with grief repeatedly. >> i can understand it. considering all the things that
she had to go through in her early part of the marriage getting to the white house, the triumph of that. the death of their son, his assassination in front of her. i can understand that. maybe this blow on the head might have exacerbated her emotional state. she was letting it all come out. it was very sad, but i can understand it. >> kentucky and illinois claimed the lincoln's as they're wrong. mary todd was born in lexington, ky. we will visit. >> we are at the mary todd lincoln house, where she lived from 13-21. this is not where she was born but her birthplace no longer stands.
this is the most significant property still standing relating to her childhood. we are in her bedroom, she shared with various sisters and cousins that live with them. they had a family members that came to live with them and lexington. that was primarily so that family members could attend school. lexington was known for educational and cultural institutions. she had nine years of formal schooling, attended the academy within walking distance of her birthplace. as she went on to attend an academy where she learned everything that was expected of women of her class like needlepoint and dancing. they also learned higher levels of traditionally male subjects like literature and arithmetic.
her formal education made her one of the most educated women of her generation. the popular image is often very dark. her childhood, many of the stories associated represent a typical childhood. she had a pony she rode around town. she and her siblings would catch minnows in the creek. she and her cousin attempted to create their own hoop skirts and wear them to sunday school. mary, parents, and her siblings would spend the evening together.
in addition to the family members, there were enslaved african americans that this column. on average, they had five slaves that provided all of the household labor. it included three women and two men. we had a portrait of mary's stepmother's mother. she is said to be a formative influence on mrs. lincoln. she was well-educated, she spoke french fluently. she is also interesting with her views in regard to slavery. in her will, she chose to provide for the gradual freeing of her slaves after her death. this represents her political position of gradual emancipation. this is the dining room of the home. this is where they would have entertained other prominent families of the day, including politicians. one of the greatest politicians and a neighbor of the todds was henry clay. leader of the whig political party. her father was also a member of that political party.