The Madness Of Mary Lincoln

Her son had her committed. She said it was so he could get his hands on her money. Now, 130 years after this bitter and controversial drama, a trove of letters—long believed destroyed—sheds new light on it.

In August 1875, after spending three months in a sanitarium in Batavia, Illinois, put there by her son against her will, Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of the martyred President, wrote: “It does not appear that God is good, to have placed me here. I endeavor to read my Bible and offer up my petitions three times a day. But my afflicted heart fails me and my voice often falters in prayer.

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Violence In America

What Human nature and the California gold rush tell us about crime in the inner city

VIOLENCE is the primal problem of American history, the dark reverse of its coin of freedom and abundance. American society, or a conspicuous part of it, has been tumultuous since the beginnings of European colonization.

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A Wedding Album

Of the three basic rites of passage— birth, marriage, and death—the most vital is marriage, according to a historian of wedding customs, because it is the only one at which we are fully present, fully aware. Marriage is certainly the rite of passage that has, through the ages, accumulated the greatest weight of ritual, superstition, and ceremony. Read more »

Take My Wife — Prithee

Happy marriages may have been all alike in the eighteenth century, but the unhappy ones
fought it out in the newspapers

Augoft 2d. 1771.

Whereas Hannah, wife

makes it her steady business to pass from house to house, with her buisey news, in tattling and bawling andlying, and carrying out things out of my house, things contrary to my knowledge— these are therefore to forbid all persons of having any trade or commerce with the said Hannah.

Richard Smith (legal notice appearing in The Connecticut Courant , August 6, 1771) Read more »

A Shooting And A Wedding.

An Unfortunate Affair at Fullerton Which at the End is Amicably Adjusted.

Joe Lyons, the nineteen-year-old son of Isaac Lyons of Orangethorpe, shot and seriously wounded Morris Smith, son of W. J. Smith of the same place, at Fullerton at about half-past 9 o’clock on last Thursday morning. Lyons had driven in from his father’s ranch in a cart and awaited the coming of Smith on the sidewalk on Commonwealth avenue near Smith’s butcher shop. The latter shortly after arrived, coming up on horseback through the alley leading out on to Commonwealth avenue in rear of Stern and Goodman’s store.Read more »

Love And Guilt: Woodrow Wilson And Mary Hulbert

On the afternoon of September 18, 1915, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States and a widower, wrote a brief note that he knew might change the rest of his life. The note, sent by messenger, was for Edith Boiling Galt, to whom he was secretly engaged. The President asked her to cancel her plans to have dinner that evening at the White House, and to allow him the unusual liberty of coming to her home to discuss a matter of grave importance.Read more »

The Bliss Business

Institutionalizing the American Honeymoon

On the theory, perhaps, that there is safety in numbers, it is possible to have a honeymoon in the company of five hundred couples doing exactly the same thing. In the Poconos of eastern Pennsylvania, a hilly region some thirty miles west of the Delaware Water Gap, there are eight hotels with names like Cove Haven and Paradise Stream, which have the appearance and facilities of regular resorts but which cater exclusively to honeymooners. Read more »

The Notorious Affair Of Mrs. Reynolds

According to Alexander Hamilton, he was with his family in Philadelphia on a certain summer day in 1791 when a young woman called at the door and asked to speak with him in private. He led her into a room apart from the rest of the house, where she introduced herself as Maria Lewis Reynolds of New York —Mrs. James Reynolds, a sister of a Mrs. G. Livingston of that state. Her husband, she said, had for a long time treated her very cruelly and now had left her and their young daughter for another woman.Read more »

Liberty And Disunion

Three Centuries of Divorce, American Style

Appearances may be deceiving, but marriage in the United States looks as if it is in trouble. More couples—primarily young—are living together without the formality of marriage, and more couples—somewhat older and sadder—are ending their existing marriages in the courts. Some see in this the onset of American morality’s decline and fall. “Are we the last married generation?” asked columnist Harriet Van Home in a 1969 essay.Read more »