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The new book Lincoln scholar Michael Burlingame An American Marriage: The Untold Story of Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd (Pegasus Books, 2021) explores an often overlooked aspect of the sixteenth president’s life, the tragic story of Abraham Lincoln’s marriage to Mary Todd.
Based on thirty years of research, Burlingame describes how as First Lady, Mary Lincoln accepted bribes and kickbacks, sold permits and pardons, engaged in extortion, and peddled influence. Unlike her husband, she was not profoundly opposed to slavery and hardly qualifies as the “ardent abolitionist” that some historians have portrayed. While she provided a useful stimulus to his ambition, she often “crushed his spirit,” as his law partner put it.
Michael Burlingame holds the Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies at the University of Illinois Springfield. He is the author or editor of several books about Lincoln, including An American Marriage; Lincoln Observed; The Inner World of Abraham Lincoln; and the two-volume Abraham Lincoln: A Life. Michael lives in Springfield, Illinois.
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