For more information, read Michigan Publishing's access and usage policy. Probably the most controversial—certainly the most newsworthy—issue in Lincoln studies today is the question of whether Lincoln was "gay" or had sexual relations with some of his male companions. That discussion began to simmer in the popular media in the mids but has been given greater credence and focus by the posthumous publication of C. Discussion of the topic in the popular press and on the Internet has not engaged the evidence in a meaningful way but has tended to repeat the same accusations and denials. Instead, this is precisely the kind of issue that Lincolnists should approach in a scholarly and thoughtful manner before inaccurate stories and unsupported conclusions become so widespread that they cannot be corrected.
But if you happen to fall hard for someone in Illinois while visiting from Kentucky, you probably want to be very sure that the object of your affection reciprocates your feelings before you uproot your dating. Born infriends daughter of a successful planter from Kentucky, Owens was 24 when she first met Lincoln in Abe, still nearly 30 years away from the presidency, was Lincoln, too. Owens had traveled from Green County, Kentucky, to visit her married sister Elizabeth Abell in New Salem, Illinois, where Lincoln was living at the time and employed as a postmaster.
It seems Elizabeth told her sister as much. If Lincoln did not fully expect to get hitched, he at least wrote to his friend Mrs. But if he ever did, he had certainly changed his mind when he and Mary Owens met again. After seeing her for the second time, he sent a scathing appraisal to Browning:.
But now, when I beheld her, I could not for my life avoid thinking of my mother. And this, not from withered features, for her skin was too full of fat to permit its contracting in to wrinkles; but from her want of teeth, weather-beaten appearance in general, and from a kind of notion that ran in my head, that nothing could have commenced at the size of infancy, and reached her present bulk in less than thirty-five or forty years; and, in short, I was not all pleased with her.
The anecdote about Lincoln writing to his female friend to talk trash—at length—about a woman he intended to marry gets left out of a lot of biographies. Rather than fessing up to his feelings and having a frank conversation with Mary, Lincoln fled New Salem altogether.
He moved to Springfield, Illinois, in to work as a lawyer. From there, he proceeded to write Mary Owens a series of letters trying to convince her that, while he was perfectly happy to marry her, it would definitely be no fun to be married to him. Do you think you could bear that patiently?
I have a very large room, and a very large double-bed in it; which you are perfectly welcome to share with me if you choose. Apparently, Mary thought so, too.
In the end, Mary ghosted him. A long life and a merry one attend you. This left Lincoln smarting.
Mary returned to Kentucky, where she wed a man named Jesse Vineyard inwhen she was The couple had two children. When the Civil War came, Kentucky initially declared itself a neutral territory—backing neither the Union nor the Confederacy.
I most emphatically, in this instance, made a fool of myself. I have now come to the conclusion never again to think of marrying; and for this reason; I can never be satisfied with any one who would be block-head enough to have me.
In letters to his accidental fiancée, the future president painted springfield, illinois, as a bummer.
He would meet Mary Todd a few years after, and marry her in —but not before trying to break off that engagement, too. Turns out he was more skilled at navigating national unions than personal ones. Follow us on Twitter to get the latest on the world's hidden wonders. Like us on Facebook to get the latest on the world's hidden wonders.
A brief reunion
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Become a Member. Lincoln wrote to Mary Owens to break off their partnership before it even really heated up. Lincoln told Mary Owens that life in Springfield would involve watching carriages go by without the money to ride in one herself.
Library of Congress Mary returned to Kentucky, where she wed a man named Jesse Vineyard inwhen she was Read next. For a time, wealthy divorce seekers headed to the frontier.
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Love and loss
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