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.

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