The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 57, July 1953 - April, 1954 Page: 248
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Lincoln authority, the late James G. Randall, and sister of former
President T. S. Painter of the University of Texas. The woman
wronged is Lincoln's wife, Mary, and the villain is William H.
Herndon, Lincoln's law partner and biographer. The result is
not chaos but a concatenation of evidence leading to a completely
new and more favorable picture of the President's wife.
Along the way Mrs. Randall throws out many a legend, partic-
ularly the Ann Rutledge romance and Lincoln's failure to show
for his wedding. Instead, we get a piece-by-piece detailing of an
effervescent, well-bred young lady in love with a gauche, debt-
ridden young lawyer, whose people-to use a Southern epithet-
were "common" and whose future looked unpromising to almost
everyone except this girl who discerned mind and ambition be-
neath that ugly visage.
As we grow older, we seldom acquire new good habits, and the
old bad characteristics become intensified. In Mary Lincoln high
spirits devolved with age into neuroses, helped along by consistent
migraine headaches. For periods she would suffer mental derange-
ment, egged on by jealousy and a realization of her own short-
comings as a wife and First Lady.
But through it all Mary Lincoln remained a wife whose first
interest was her husband and his career. With a husband suffering
from an inherent sense of inferiority, and often gloomy to the
point of despondency, she provided the conatus to keep her
difficult husband striving, with results that are firmly secured in
Mrs. Randall has written a dual biography here, for Lincoln
must necessarily occupy a principal role. The author has a
woman's feeling for another woman's problems and psychology,
so that we get a story which no male historian could have written.
The book is absorbing and scholarly, one that can be read with
equal pleasure by sober Lincoln sages or by the lay reader. It is a
careful character study that contributes still more to our knowl-
edge of Lincoln and helps to correct a picture that long has been
JOE B. FRANTZ
The University of Texas
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 57, July 1953 - April, 1954, periodical, 1954; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101152/m1/298/: accessed August 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.