LINCOLN, Mary Todd. Autograph letter signed ("Mary Lincoln"), to Leonard Swett, Chicago, 15 September . 2 pages, 8vo, mourning stationery, closed tears at folds, two small strips of tape along center fold.
"MY NOBLE HUSBAND'S NAME IS DISHONORED"
"IF THE COUNTRY HAD TRULY LOVED HIM, SUCH WANT WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN INFLICTED UPON HIS HOUSEHOLD." An angry Mary Lincoln is at her wits end from "the embarrassment to which I am almost daily subjected by the receipt of letters & calls from indigent persons, who are impressed with the idea that the family of the late beloved President have had ample means placed before them." To her great humiliation, she was almost as needy as the poor souls who wrote begging her for a donation, and she had "to turn aside from their wants, without a dollar I could justly give them." It was, she continued, "with an aching heart" that she reflected bitterly on how "the bread which my idolized husband so freely cast upon the waters to all sufferers who came near him, was not returned to his family by a country he so faithfully served."
She was unable "to meet the wants of our little household, even in the simplified way, for the coming winter," and was forced to put her house up for rent. "I have never been interested in any of my surroundings," she asserts, and only attempted "a passable appearance" at elegance and style during her time as First Lady out of "the pride & knowledge what was due my husband & our former station." But "this is all over" now as she faces the prospects of becoming a common landlady. "The families of soldiers & others who come to me for assistance will then be assured when I assert that my own means are limited & I have not the wherewithal to give them." In an emotional and recriminatory summation she declares, "Of course this is not as it should be. I feel in all this my noble husband's name is dishonored. If the country had truly loved him, such want would not have been inflicted upon his household..." Published in Turner & Turner, pp. 389-390.