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The Lincoln Wedding


Since it’s President’s Day, I thought RDN should take a look at the wedding of Mary Todd and Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln met Mary Todd at a cotillion after she had moved from Kentucky to Springfield, Illinois to be with her married sister. Lincoln was 30 and she was 21. According to legend, he walked up to her and asked for a dance, saying, “Miss Todd, I want to dance with you in the worst way.”

Mary Todd, whose nickname was Molly, was the daughter of wealthy parents with political interests. She was well educated, having gone to a prestigious all-girls school. She was a staunch abolitionist and was labeled a traitor by her Southern Kentucky relatives (her father was a slave owner).

Lincoln and Todd “courted,” got engaged, and then broke up for a year or so and got back together. They opted not to have a long engagement and decided to marry fairly quickly after resuming their engagement.

The couple wanted a small wedding. Lincoln bought matching gold wedding bands with the words “Love is eternal” engraved inside. They were married on Nov. 4th, 1842 at the home of her sister and brother-in-law, Elizabeth and Ninian Edwards, Mary Todd’s legal guardian. About 30 friends and relatives attended and the Reverend Dresser officiated wearing Episcopalian canonical robes. Mary wore a white muslin dress with neither a veil nor flowers in her hair. It rained on their wedding day. Mary's bridesmaids were Julia M. Jayne (who later married Lyman Trumbull who became a U.S. Senator), Anna Caesaria Rodney and her sister, Elizabeth. Lincoln's best man was James Harvey Matheny, a close friend with whom he worked with at the circuit court office in Springfield.

A week after the marriage, on November 11, 1842, Lincoln wrote a letter to a friend, where he commented, "Nothing new here, except my marrying, which to me, is a matter of profound wonder."