One of six surviving children of the marriage of Robert and Elizabeth Parker Todd, Mary Todd was born on December 13, 1818, in Lexington, Kentucky. Her Scots-Irish ancestors had been among the founders of Lexington.
Mary Todd received her education locally and developed an interest in political people, perhaps through her friendship with Henry Clay, also a resident of Lexington. After moving to Springfield in 1839, she met Abraham Lincoln, to whom she was married on November 4, 1842. They had four children, all sons, of whom only Robert Todd Lincoln reached mature adulthood.
Mary Todd Lincoln`s most important impact on Abraham Lincoln`s political career came in 1849, when she adamantly opposed his taking the governorship of Oregon. During the Civil War, she incurred the dislike of many on account of her spending habits and her relatives in the Confederate Army. At the assassination, she was the first to realize what had happened and called for the crowd to stop John Wilkes Booth.
After the war, her behavior became erratic. In 1867, only a public outcry prevented her from selling her clothes and possessions to cover personal debts. A reluctant Congress granted her $3000 a year in 1870, which was raised to $8000 in 1880. She was briefly committed to a mental institution in 1875, but was released and spent most of her remaining years in Europe. She died in Springfield on July 16, 1882.