Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mary Todd Lincoln and Me: What We Have in Common

I have known more than a few women who have hidden their spending habits from their husbands or significant others. I have been guilty, how about you? In my case, I now know (30 years later) that it was a source of comfort for a marriage gone awry. I stayed home to raise my kids therefore I did not bring in any money (a fact my now ex never let me forget). I also believe I was behaving passively aggressive because my then husband did not value my role as wife and mother.
I have discovered that Mrs. Lincoln practiced excessive spending in her life also. She helped Mr. Lincoln understand the urgency of fee collection for his services when speaking and constantly promoted him wherever she went. Mary felt as though she was only one-step ahead of Mr. Lincoln’s discovery of her overspending. She would tell everyone that he would be president one day. “He is to be President of the United States some day, “she said.

While still new, the Republican Party nominated Mr. Lincoln for president in 1860. He won the election to the relief of Mrs. Lincoln. Mary immediately received criticism as she redecorated the White House. She thought the leader of our great nation deserved an appropriate setting; going way over budget in doing so.
Mary Todd Lincoln even made the newspapers. In an article, during a shopping trip to New York, she created quite a stir. She was there to buy items for the White House and for herself. Her shopping companion was her brother-in-law, Clark Smith. They hit the town when they shopped at all the New York department stores, purchased clothes and jewelry. She and Clark attended all the tea parties.

Mary became over anxious during Mr. Lincoln’s next run for president. She feared they would end up homeless and broke due to her over-spending. She began acting increasingly irrational in matters of money. All she could think about was if Abraham lost the election, her out of control spending would become known to him.

Mary Todd Lincoln, the wife of one of the greatest presidents, during a time of civil war had problems with money and hid it from her husband. I have been in the position of hiding from my husband my problem with overspending. It is the human connection over the years to do what we can to comfort ourselves from pain in our lives. Mary Todd Lincoln and me.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

"American Woman: What's Your History?"

For several years, my interest in American history has been emerging. My interest has narrowed to women’s roles in American history. I began to research noticing many of the historians were men. Recently I have been searching for women historians that feature their own gender. The amount of material is scarce in comparison to the female role in American history written by male historians.

In this blog, I will attempt to bring to light historical facts, themes, wives’ tales or even rumors, as well as humorous stories about the historical American woman written and researched by her contemporary counterpart. I say “counterpart” in as much as that is possible remembering that our female ancestors had few legal rights.

I want it understood that I am by no means a “feminist” as most people define the word in modern history. I am 56 years old and most of my life, self-declared feminists were, for the most part, staunch liberals. An organization, supposedly in support of ALL women cannot speak for me if the majority of their platform does not cover my beliefs. The same goes for the thousands of American women, with their own beliefs, wants and needs. We do not fit neatly in a box stamped “This is the way American women think”.

In many ways, we American women are alike. I’m sure most of us have our hopes and dreams; we do not wish harm to others even if we disagree. However, every one of us has the right to gain our happiness is our own way. Our journey to our dreams are just that, ours. No one else has the right to tell us how we are to take that trip
In this blog, I want to bring to light and write about women of other eras; but it will not be a soapbox debating “women’s rights”, etc. My point is to write how our “other selves” lived before us. I want to inject humor somewhat and find out if we as women have things in common despite the passing of time. I imagine that we do.