ALLM celebrates 200th birthday of Mary Todd Lincoln

HARROGATE, Tenn. — The Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum (ALLM), located on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) in Harrogate, Tennessee, celebrated the 200th birthday of Mary Todd Lincoln with a tea party at the Cumberland Gap Convention Center on Dec. 13. Actors playing Mary Todd and her husband Abraham Lincoln mingled and posed for photos with those gathered to enjoy tea, desserts and sandwiches.

ALLM’s most impressive exhibits related to Mary Todd Lincoln include the tea set that she used in Springfield, Illinois, and the painting that depicts her as a young bride. The artist was Katherine Hardin Helm, the first lady’s niece and the daughter of a Confederate general during the war. Mary Todd Lincoln is worthy of celebration as one of the nation’s most famous first ladies.

“Would that the times allowed it, Mary Lincoln likely would have run for the presidency herself,” said Natalie Sweet, ALLM program coordinator. “Unfortunately for her at that time, the most political position that a woman could hold was that of first lady. Her sister recalled her saying before her marriage to Lincoln that she intended to marry a president one day, and so she did.”

The event included proper tea sets and strawberry desert as a special tribute to Mary’s love of hosting strawberry parties in Springfield, which was a popular tradition at that time. Younger guests enjoyed hot chocolate, which was also a favorite of Mary’s.

The Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum is located on the historic campus of Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee. Housing one of the top five Lincoln and Civil War private collections in the world, the Museum is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. For more information about this and other programs at the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum, call 423-869-6235.