Mary Todd Lincoln's Mourning Skirt

This is a black silk skirt with flounces and ribbon ties. She wore this when her son Willie died in 1862 and again in 1865 after her husband was assassinated. Mrs. Lincoln gave this dress to her friend Mrs. James H. Knowlton of Chicago.

Eliza Gist Blair Funeral Dress

This black dress was worn by Eliza Gist Blair, the wife of Francis P. Blair, at the funeral of Abraham Lincoln. Her Husband, Francis P. Blair was a pioneer in the founding of the Republican party and served President Abraham Lincoln in an informal capacity many times. Francis Blair was father of Montgomery Blair, a member of President Lincoln's cabinet.

Blair took it upon himself to advise Lincoln. On April 17, 1861, just three days after the surrender of Fort Sumter, Lincoln asked Francis Blair to convey his offer to Colonel Robert E. Lee to command the Federal Army. The next day, Lee visited Blair across Lafayette Square from the White House. Lee blunted Blair’s offer of the Union command by saying: “Mr. Blair, I look upon secession as anarchy. If I owned the four millions of slaves at the South, I would sacrifice them all to the Union; but how can I draw my sword upon Virginia, my native State?

By 1862, Blair had told his slaves that they could "go when they wished." He said that "all but one declined the privilege," choosing to stay on as servants.

After Lincoln's re-election in 1864 Blair thought that his former close personal relations with the Confederate leaders might aid in bringing about a cessation of hostilities, and with Lincoln's consent went unofficially to Richmond and induced President Jefferson Davis to appoint commissioners to confer with representatives of the United States (although this may have been a result of internal pressure). This resulted in the futile "Hampton Roads Conference" of February 3, 1865. After the Civil War Blair became a detractor of President Andrew Johnson's reconstruction policy, and eventually rejoined the Democratic Party.

Mary Todd Lincoln Dress & Shoes

Mary Ann (née Todd) Lincoln (December 13, 1818 – July 16, 1882) was the wife of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, and was First Lady of the United States from 1861 to 1865.

A member of a large, wealthy Kentucky family, Mary was well educated. After living in the Todd House and a finishing school during her teens, she moved to Springfield, Illinois where she lived with her married sister Elizabeth Edwards. Mary was courted by Stephen Douglas before Abraham Lincoln, against whom her later husband notably debated. She and Lincoln had four sons together, only one of whom outlived her. Their home of about 15 years still stands in Springfield.

During her White House years, Mary Lincoln faced many personal difficulties generated by political divisions within the nation. Her family was from a border state where slavery was permitted. In Kentucky, siblings not infrequently fought each other in the Civil War and Mary's family was no exception. Several of her half-brothers served in the Confederate Army and were killed in action, and one full brother served the Confederacy as a surgeon.

Mary staunchly supported her husband in his quest to save the Union and maintained a strict loyalty to his policies. It was a challenge for Mary, a "westerner", to serve as her husband's First Lady in Washington, D.C., a political center dominated by eastern and southern culture. Lincoln was regarded as the first "western" president, and Mary's manners were often criticized as coarse and pretentious. It was difficult for her to negotiate White House social responsibilities and rivalries, in a climate of high national intrigue in Civil War Washington.

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