|This 1846 portrait was taken the year he was elected to Congress, in Springfield.|
|Southern Belle Mary Todd Lincoln in 1846.|
Whatever the cause, Lincoln, who regarded his integrity as "the chief gem of my character," felt that he had behaved dishonorably; for him, no sin could be worse. For the second time, a romance cut short led to a mental breakdown so complete that friends feared he might take his life. He wrote to his good friend Joshua Speed, "I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family there would not be one cheerful face on the earth."
But within a year, friends had intervened to broker a reconciliation. The wife of the editor of the Sangamo Journal arranged to have Todd and Lincoln run into each other "unexpectedly" in her home. Soon, they were meeting regularly (and secretly) there. On the morning of November 4, 1842, Lincoln, now 33, barged in on Charles Dresser, the local Episcopal minister (and Todd's brother- in-law) at breakfast and blurted out, "I want to get hitched tonight. "In a hastily-arranged ceremony that evening, the groom handed Todd a ring inscribed with the words LOVE IS ETERNAL.
Mrs. Lincoln's sights perhaps did not extend so far into the future. When friends asked why she had married so far beneath her station, Mary answered matter-of-factly: "He is to be President of the United States someday. If I had not thought so I never would have married him, for you can see he is not pretty."
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.