Tomb Case 2

MS-1870.07.16 – MTL to James H. Orne about travels and coming of Franco-Prussian War

Mary Lincoln in Europe

In the hours before his assassination, Abraham Lincoln told Mary Lincoln he wanted to travel after his presidency, including to Europe. Mary spent several years of her life as a widow doing just that, perhaps to honor her husband’s memory but also to escape the intrusive and judgmental eye of the American press.

Mary enjoyed two long-term residencies in Europe. This letter finds her over a year into her first trip through Europe in 1870, writing to friend James H. Orne from the region of Tyrol, then part of the Austrian Empire. She is getting ready to travel to England but political events have disrupted her plan. France had just declared war on Prussia and her luggage was stuck in Frankfurt due to potential troop movements. Despite this hiccup, Mary remained in Europe almost another year and returned again after her release from Bellevue Place in 1876.

Label Audio

Innsburck, Tyrol,

July 16th ‘70’

Hon. James H. Orne:

My dear Sir:

Your telegram has been this hour most gratefully received.

I had run down here with my young son, to give him a little holiday, but shortly after our arrival was notified from Frankfurt that the French were on the Rhine and if we wished to secure our baggage which had been deposited at the house of a friend, we must return & see after our effects—also, to entirely arrange our affairs in Germany, I was compelled four days since, in the absence of necessary funds, to send the cheque which you so kindly placed at my service to Frankfurt to be cashed, to settle little business matters there  You can well believe that when my funds will be placed before me, and we have quiet times again (for the agitation in Europe is very great, the obligation will be remembered.  The kindness of yourself & your family, will always be deeply engraven on our hearts.  In these tumultuous times, my great anxiety is to see dear Mrs Orne again.  With the most unbounded gratitude, I remain, always,

Most respectfully yours

Mary Lincoln

Letter Audio

Social Links