Mary Todd Lincoln’s Commitment Papers

Original Cook County court papers that document former first lady Mary Todd Lincoln’s commitment to an insane asylum will be preserved at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. The papers are from 1875 and 1876 and are still on file with the Cook County circuit clerk. Among the pleadings and vouchers are: the petition by Mary Lincoln’s son, Robert, to have his mother declared insane; a subpoena and summons to have her appear in court; and a jury verdict decreeing her insanity.
Two state supreme court justices were researching Mary Todd Lincoln’s insanity hearing for a historical re-creation of the trial when they discovered the original papers in Chicago. Circuit Clerk Dorothy Brown agreed to transfer the 135-year-old records to the Lincoln museum for preservation.
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