Lincoln's Life in Letters:
Mary Lincoln

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Near Chicago
June 11th

Gov Oglesbey–

From the day’s Chicago paper, I have clipped another interesting editorial, such articles injure those from whom they emanate, far more than myself. My wish to have the Monument, placed over my Husband’s remains, will meet the approval of the whole civilized world, & if not carried out, and a


favorable answer, given me by the 15th of this month,  I will certainly do as I have said. It is very painful to me, to be heated in this manner, by some of those I considered my friends, such conduct, will not add, very much, to the honor of our state– 

I enclose you a scrap, sent from Springfield. ^to the paper to-day^ doubtless emanating, from the fertile pen of E. L. Baker– 

Very Resp–
Mrs Lincoln

Mary Takes Charge

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.

Lincoln’s tomb in Springfield, Illinois. Constructed from white granite, the 117 foot tall obelisk is supported by a rectangular base and a semicircular entrance way. Flights of stairs lead to the terrace where pedestals decorate the corners of the obelisk with bronze sculptures of Civil War soldiers. The sculpture of Lincoln is elevated above the others at the base of obelisk.
The Lincoln Tomb.
Two uniformed men guard the body of Lincoln as he lays within his partially open coffin. Due to the exposure of the photo, Lincoln’s beard is the only recognizable feature facial. The Presidents coffin is ornamented with studs, stars, and white flowers.
Lincoln lying in state in New York City.
Mary Lincoln stands for a photo a year after the death of her son Willie. Mary is dressed in a black dress and petticoat. The jewelry decorating her ears, neck, waist and wrist contrasts her dark clothing. Her slumped shoulders and limp arm suggest the grieving mother’s immense sadness.
Mary Lincoln about 1863.
The future governor is formally dressed, wearing a white shirt underneath a dark waistcoat and bowtie. The shoulder bar on Oglesby’s military jacket indicates his rank as major general in the Civil War.
Illinois Governor Richard J. Oglesby. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.


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. To see more documents written to and by Lincoln from all over the world, please visit 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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