Citations of this article
Mendeley users who have this article in their library.


Few historical figures have created such a wide disparity in interpretation as Mary Lincoln. In the most extreme viewpoints, she has been portrayed as an almost demonic figure: a violent and corrupt shrew that made Abraham Lincoln's life a living hell. At the same time, others have portrayed her as a loving and affectionate wife and mother and a brilliant political partner for her husband. Some say her posthumous reputation has suffered due to the sexism and bias of male historians. Others say her own behavior is the cause of her poor historical reputation, adding that blaming historians is, at best, misguided. With all the recent work and increased attention on Abraham Lincoln, the passage of time, and the insights that advance in the study of women's history and psychohistory, we can now move beyond simplistic interpretations of one of the most famous First Ladies. "Who was the real Mary Lincoln?" is still very much an open question, which today's historians should at least attempt to resolve. Mary Lincoln deserves a more nuanced picture than the caricatures given by both apologists and critics heretofore.




Williams, F. J. (2012). Introduction. The Mary Lincoln Enigma: Historians on America’s Most Controversial First Lady. Southern Illinois University Press.

Register to see more suggestions

Mendeley helps you to discover research relevant for your work.

Already have an account?

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free