LINCOLN, Mary Todd (1818-1882), First Lady. Autograph letter signed ("Mary Lincoln") to her friend Hannah Shearer, Executive Mansion, [Washington, D.C.], 6 October 1861. 4 pp., 8vo, page 4 written across, neatly matted with a photographic portrait and enclosed in a hinged mount in a good gilt-wood frame.
"WE ARE AS FAR REMOVED AS EVER FROM WAR. IF WE COULD ACCOMPLISH OUR PURPOSE WITHOUT RESORTING TO ARMS & BLOODSHED HOW COMFORTABLE IT WOULD BE"
A rich, newsy and revealing letter of the First Lady, six months after Lincoln's inauguration, to a close Springfield friend. Mary writes of the distant-seeming war, gifts from General McClellan, her dresses and the "beaumonde" who frequent the White House: "I had scarcely supposed, that so long a time would elapse, ere I should have written to you, but indisposition has prevented me. For the last ten days, I have been sick with chills, am now beginning to feel better. I am pleased to hear that you reached home in safety, I felt quite anxious to hear from you. The weather has again become quite warm & so dusty, there is no comfort in riding. We will welcome cool weather, dust, I presume we will never be freed from, until mud takes its place."
"We are as far removed as ever on this eastern shore, it appears, from war. If we could accomplish our purpose without resorting to arms & bloodshed how comfortable it would be. But that is impossible. Mr. Lincoln has gone out today, to pay a visit to Gen [Nathanial] Banks [the President, Secretary of War Seward and General G.B. McClellan visited Banks' regiment in Rockville]. Our friends Gov. Newell, Halstead & & are generally about here. The diplomatic corps, have returned to the city, quite a number of strangers are daily coming in & our 'blue room' [at the White House], in the evenings, is quite alive with the 'beaumonde.' Gen McClellan has just sent me in a box of grapes. They are delicious, I wish you were here, to share them with me. I often receive delightful fruit from New Jersey. Do write me, & tell me how you are coming in. You have so much more leisure than I have, why do you not write? I want to hear when any thing happens, make the Dr. write. I send you a few scraps of my dresses. I send you a sample of an evening silk, lights up beautifully, to be flounced. I will enjoy it, because it is a variety, not figured. Lizzie Grimsley [Elizabeth Todd Grimsley] I frequently hear from - she is well...[John Milton] Hay [Lincoln's personal secretary] has just returned from Ill[inois]. When you receive this, I want you to sit down & write me a long letter. With regards to the Dr & boys, I remain your attached friend Mary Lincoln."
Published in Life and Letters, ed. Turner and Turner, pp.108-109.