• Inside the Lincoln Sitting Room

    Lincoln Home

    National Historic Site Illinois

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    Please be advised that tours of the Lincoln home fill rapidly during our busy summer season. We suggest that you visit the Lincoln Home National Historic Visitor Center early in the day for your best opportunity to receive a tour of the Lincoln home.

Mary's Loyalty to the Union

Mary was occasionally accused of having greater loyalty to the Confederacy than to the Union. These accusations were based on the actions of her slaveholding Kentucky relatives. Lincoln offered a commission to the husband of one of Mary's half sisters, Ben Hardin Helm, only to have him reject it and then join the Confederate Army. He was one of six of Mary's relatives who served the Confederacy. When Helm died in battle, Lincoln provided a pass for his widow to cross the lines. He also granted passes to Mary's half sister, who was subsequently accused of smuggling medicines to the Confederacy. However Mary's loyalty was beyond question. She called the enemy "rebels" and "traitors". The influence of the abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, and that of her mulatto seamstress, Elizabeth Keckley, who became a confidante of hers, probably helped change the attitude of a woman who was raised on a slave plantation.

Source:The Lincoln Encyclopedia by Mark E. Neely, Jr., 1982.

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Did You Know?

Mary Todd Lincoln

Mary Lincoln never returned to the family home in Springfield after the death of Abraham Lincoln. She instead lived in Chicago and in Europe until returning to her sister's house in Springfield later in life. Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Illinois