By the end of the Civil War, Mary had lost two of her four sons and witnessed the murder of her husband. She was emotionally shattered by these losses and carried that burden for the rest of her life. This letter finds Mary in Chicago only a few months after the president’s death, writing to Governor Richard J. Oglesby fervently advocating for Lincoln’s tomb to be placed in Springfield’s Oak Ridge Cemetery.

Mary ultimately succeeded in those efforts, arguing against sites in major American cities, like Chicago and Washington. Although Mary herself did not return to Springfield until much later in life, she believed Lincoln’s body belonged there not just because the town had fostered his political rise but also because Eddy Lincoln was already buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery. It was one of the many ways she worked to protect her husband’s legacy.

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Lincoln's Life in Letters Assassination Photos

Images for Lincoln's Life in Letters Mary Todd page

The documents highlighted in this exhibit are all drawn from our own collection. The originals are in our vault and the images were created by our Papers of Abraham Lincoln project. Please visit their website,, to see more documents written to and by Lincoln from all over the world. If you have a Lincoln document, or know someone who does, please reach out to us. We are always looking for new discoveries.

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