Was Mary Todd Lincoln insane?
That was the verdict of the Cook County Court. But was that a miscarriage of justice?
In 1875 Robert Todd Lincoln dragged his mother into court to have her declared insane, had himself named as conservator, and seized control of her assets.
Locked in an asylum, she smuggled letters to America’s most prominent reporters, politicians, jurists, and feminists, engineered her own release, and organized a trial declaring her competent. Then she took her money back and left for Europe. She never lived down the disgrace.
Drawing on newly uncovered primary documents, with unparalleled depth of scholarship and his trademark humor — and with a fresh sarcasm appropriate to the state of Lincoln Studies — best-selling historian Kevin Orlin Johnson sets the record straight about Mary Todd’s drug use, Robert’s kangaroo court, and the state of psychiatric science then and now.