Mary Todd Lincoln: The Controversial First Lady

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Mary Todd Lincoln was no Jackie Kennedy. Although Mary Lincoln is often portrayed as being consumed by aristocratic airs, she hardly fit in with the upper-class. She spent hefty sums of money on custom tailored dresses to “look the part;” but her fashion choices were often scoffed at, and she is far from being remembered as an iconic fashion figure.

But Mary Todd Lincoln is more complex than her fashion sensibilities. She was more than egocentric, frivolous, and mentally disturbed—the attributes she is commonly reduced to.

As Spielberg’s new film Lincoln hits the box office, Rumpus Saturday editor Michelle Dean, in her article Reconsidering Marytakes a closer look at President Lincoln’s controversial First Lady.


Pat Johnson is currently working on his master’s in Fiction Writing at San Francisco State University, and is the owner and editor of the satirical news website The New Porker. When Pat’s not reading or writing he’s likely squeezing a lime into a Tecate and headed to the dance floor. He also creates short films, documentaries, and sketch comedies. Pat is completing his first novel, The Virgin and Marilyn Monroe, and writing a book of Creative Non-Fiction short stories. More from this author →