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The Insanity File: The Case of Mary Todd…
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The Insanity File: The Case of Mary Todd Lincoln (urspr publ 1986; utgåvan 1993)

av Mark E. Neely Jr. (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygDiskussioner
822250,999 (3.58)Ingen/inga
In 1875 Robert Todd Lincoln caused his mother, Mary Todd Lincoln, to be committed to an insane asylum. Based on newly discovered manuscript materials, this book seeks to explain how and why. In these documents--marked by Robert Todd Lincoln as the "MTL Insanity File"--exists the only definitive record of the tragic story of Mary Todd Lincoln's insanity trial. The book that results from these letters and documents addresses several areas of controversy in the life of the widow of Abraham Lincoln: the extent of her illness, the fairness of her trial, and the motives of those who had her committed for treatment. Related issues include the status of women under the law as well as the legal and medical treatment of insanity. Speculating on the reasons for her mental condition, the authors note that Mrs. Lincoln suffered an extraordinary amount of tragedy in a relatively few years. Three of her four sons died very young, and Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. After the death of her son Willie she maintained a darkly rigorous mourning for nearly three years, prompting the president to warn her that excessive woe might force him to send her to "that large white house on the hill yonder," the government hospital for the insane. Mrs. Lincoln also suffered anxiety about money, charting an exceptionally erratic financial course. She had spent lavishly during her husband's presidency and at his death found herself deeply in debt. She had purchased trunkfuls of drapes to hang over phantom windows. 84 pairs of kid gloves in less than a month, and $3,200 worth of jewelry in the three months preceding Lincoln's assassination. She followed the same erratic course for the rest of her life, creating in herself a tremendous anxiety. She occasionally feared that people were trying to kill her, and in 1873 she told her doctor that an Indian spirit was removing wires from her eyes and bones from her cheeks. Her son assembled an army of lawyers and medical experts who would swear in court that Mrs. Lincoln was insane. The jury found her insane and in need of treatment in an asylum. Whether the verdict was correct or not, the trial made Mary Lincoln desperate. Within hours of the verdict she would attempt suicide. In a few months she would contemplate murder. Since then every aspect of the trial has been criticized--from the defense attorney to the laws in force at the time. Neely and McMurtry deal with the trial, the commitment of Mary Todd Lincoln, her release, and her second trial. An appendix features letters and fragments by Mrs. Lincoln from the "Insanity File." The book is illustrated by 25 photographs.… (mer)
Medlem:tinadiss66
Titel:The Insanity File: The Case of Mary Todd Lincoln
Författare:Mark E. Neely Jr. (Författare)
Info:Southern Illinois University Press (1993), 224 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
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Taggar:Ingen/inga

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The insanity file : the case of Mary Todd Lincoln av Mark E. Neely Jr. (1986)

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I picked this up while visiting Hildene, Robert Todd Lincoln's estate in Manchester, Vermont. Lincoln, the eldest and only surviving son of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, became quite prosperous in business as President of the Pullman rail car company. When his estate was turned over to a foundation in the 1970's a file of papers labeled MTL Insanity Papers was discovered in a safe in his study. Lincoln had preserved letters and legal documents about his mother being declared insane in 1875 and committed to an asylum in Illinois. The papers deal with the process of making the finding (through the opinions of experts) before a jury. The action also made Robert the conservator of Mary's money. Mary had continue after Lincoln's death to spend money wildly, often on buying sprees for clothes and jewelry that she never used. (She reminds one of the so-called "hoarders" shown on today's reality TV.)

The book delves into the historiography of previous efforts to describe the event and concludes that most were deficient in several ways, mostly portraying Mary as the subject of unfair treatment by the medical profession and legal processes. The author's conclude that Mary was indeed mentally unbalanced and that the efforts to protect her from herself and from dissipating her estate by continued compulsive spending were justified.

The story is a bit dry as it delves deeply into the legal proceedings that surrounded the affair. It's a quick read and does give insights into this complex person. ( )
1 rösta stevesmits | May 29, 2017 |
Parts of this book were interesting, but a good bit of it was dull, dry reading. I recently read a fiction book about Mary Lincoln's confinement to the mental hospital (Mary by Janis Cooke Newman) which got me interested in this book, but this true information was not nearly as interesting as the fiction account that I read. I skimmed over parts of this book and read the more interesting parts. ( )
1 rösta ladybug74 | Sep 13, 2009 |
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Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Neely Jr., Mark E.primär författarealla utgåvorbekräftat
McMurtry, R. GeraldJoint Author.huvudförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat

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Because Mary Todd married Abraham Lincoln somewhat in defiance of her family's hopes, she put her all into proving that she had made the right choice.
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In 1875 Robert Todd Lincoln caused his mother, Mary Todd Lincoln, to be committed to an insane asylum. Based on newly discovered manuscript materials, this book seeks to explain how and why. In these documents--marked by Robert Todd Lincoln as the "MTL Insanity File"--exists the only definitive record of the tragic story of Mary Todd Lincoln's insanity trial. The book that results from these letters and documents addresses several areas of controversy in the life of the widow of Abraham Lincoln: the extent of her illness, the fairness of her trial, and the motives of those who had her committed for treatment. Related issues include the status of women under the law as well as the legal and medical treatment of insanity. Speculating on the reasons for her mental condition, the authors note that Mrs. Lincoln suffered an extraordinary amount of tragedy in a relatively few years. Three of her four sons died very young, and Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. After the death of her son Willie she maintained a darkly rigorous mourning for nearly three years, prompting the president to warn her that excessive woe might force him to send her to "that large white house on the hill yonder," the government hospital for the insane. Mrs. Lincoln also suffered anxiety about money, charting an exceptionally erratic financial course. She had spent lavishly during her husband's presidency and at his death found herself deeply in debt. She had purchased trunkfuls of drapes to hang over phantom windows. 84 pairs of kid gloves in less than a month, and $3,200 worth of jewelry in the three months preceding Lincoln's assassination. She followed the same erratic course for the rest of her life, creating in herself a tremendous anxiety. She occasionally feared that people were trying to kill her, and in 1873 she told her doctor that an Indian spirit was removing wires from her eyes and bones from her cheeks. Her son assembled an army of lawyers and medical experts who would swear in court that Mrs. Lincoln was insane. The jury found her insane and in need of treatment in an asylum. Whether the verdict was correct or not, the trial made Mary Lincoln desperate. Within hours of the verdict she would attempt suicide. In a few months she would contemplate murder. Since then every aspect of the trial has been criticized--from the defense attorney to the laws in force at the time. Neely and McMurtry deal with the trial, the commitment of Mary Todd Lincoln, her release, and her second trial. An appendix features letters and fragments by Mrs. Lincoln from the "Insanity File." The book is illustrated by 25 photographs.

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