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Cook County Donates Mary Todd Lincoln Commitment Papers to Lincoln Library

By Chris Bentley in News on Nov 1, 2011 7:00PM

2011_11_1_mary_todd_lincoln.png Two State Supreme Court justices unearthed court papers documenting Mary Todd Lincoln’s commitment to an insane asylum. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield will preserve the documents, which concern the former first lady’s 1875 commitment to the Bellevue Insane Asylum, in Batavia, IL.

The justices discovered the papers in the course of researching Lincoln’s insanity hearing for an historical recreation of the trial.

Lincoln was distraught after the assassination of her husband in 1865, and she did not move out of the White House until more than a month later. Following a prolonged fight with Congress over her presidential widow’s pension and the sudden death of her 18-year-old son Tad, her condition took a turn for the worse.

The papers submitted to the Lincoln library include a petition by her older son, Robert, to have Mary Todd Lincoln declared insane.

Myra Bradwell, one of the country's first women lawyers, eventually filed an appeal on the former first lady’s behalf. Mrs. Lincoln was released in 1876, but not before two suicide attempts. She died six years later in Springfield, at 63.