Born in Lexington, Kentucky, the daughter of Robert Smith Todd, a banker, and Elizabeth Parker-Todd, Mary was raised in comfort and refinement. After her mother's death at age seven, her father remarried Elizabeth "Betsy" Humphreys-Todd in 1826.  Mary had a difficult relationship with her stepmother. Beginning in 1832, Mary's childhood home was what is now known as the Mary Todd Lincoln House, a 14-room upper-class residence in Lexington.  From her father's marriages to her mother and stepmother, she had 15 siblings.
Mary Todd attended fine schools, spoke French fluently, and studied dance, drama and music. She had a ready wit and sparking personality that made her quite popular. She had an explosive temper and a quarrelsome nature, however, and was mentally unstable. She suffered from agonizing migraine headaches. Some recent historians and physicians have suggested that she suffered from schizophrenia, and her name often appears on lists of famous persons with schizophrenia. However, such a diagnosis would have been impossible in her lifetime, and any diagnosis at this late date cannot be certain.
At the age of twenty, in 1839, Mary Todd left the family home and moved to Springfield, Illinois, where her sister Mrs. Elizabeth Edwards was already living. Although Mary was courted by the rising young lawyer and politician Stephen A. Douglas, she was unexpectedly attracted by Douglas's lower-status rival, and fellow lawyer, Abraham Lincoln. Elizabeth facilitated their courtship and introduced Mary to Abraham at a dance on December 16.
After a hesitant two-year courtship, Abraham Lincoln, age 33, married Mary Todd, age 23, on November 4, 1842, at the home of Mrs. Elizabeth Edwards in Springfield, Illinois. The Lincolns apparently had a comfortable marriage before the pressures of public life began to threaten her fragile mind. She became paranoid and irrationally jealous of those around the president. Abraham pursued his increasingly...
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