PDF (Mrs Lincoln and Mrs Keckly The Remarkable Story of the Friendship Between a First Lady and a Former Slave) By Jennifer Fleischner


Ical figures would have been a better tribute than the lackluster ending thaf actually seemed to add doubt in the person of Keckley rather than applauding her amazing Christian life This is one of the best historical novels I ve ever read Facts and details are supported by research and other period writings You get the whole picture or one that s pretty close to it about Mary and her miserable childhood a lot of what showed itself in her adult behavior I read about people from Springfield whose names are well nown here And Lizzy this book follows her from her humble beginnings to a triumph of freedom which she bought for herself She helped Mary during her white house days as well as the misery she endured after Lincoln s assassination Mary had no one other than her sister Elizabeth to call on for help Gratitude to the president for the emancipation of slaves chartered Lizzy to a life that was full and industrious This was a great tribute to the characters within the book This double biography studies the parallel lives of Mary Lincoln and the freed slave woman her became her seamstress when Mary became the First Lady or Mrs President as the title was at that time As other reviewers noted the friendship between these women was brief lasting only a few years after the President s murder However the book discusses not only their childhoods but gives the history of their families I have read several biographies of Mary Lincoln as well as than a few books on her husband I did not find any new information in this biography The story of Lizzy Keckly was as a bi racial slave woman informative and interesting I new of her role in Mary s life but this extensive study is helpful I especially enjoyed the short discussion of Victorian fashion and the techniue and role of the seamstress There were other side light in the book that offered a few of Victorian life and the slave culture that were enligheningMy problem with the book is that the author seems to respect Keckly enormously but not so Mrs Lincoln She draws conlusion that appear to be founded on opinion hers and letter writers of Mary s day or Herndon She suggests as other writers have that Mary s erratic behavior may have been influenced by undiagnosed diabetes but she neveer explains how this could have affected Mary She seems to have little patience with Mary s deep grief after the death of Willie She compares Mary s collapse at his death with Lizzy s stoicism at the news of her son s death in the War Perhaps I m too defensive of Mary Lincoln but I found myself twisting as I read wanting to argue for defend Mary I wanted to suggest that laudanum the going treatment for any woman s complaint which doctor s gave readily might be the cause tooThe author believes that Lincoln never loved Mary but married her out of sympathy or guilt for breaking with her two years prior to the marriage Perhaps there is truth to this conclusion but history can only surmise at this point How are we to judge the depths or condition of another s love How are we to determine in the 21st century what was felt between these two people in the 19th The truth is indeterminate but provides much room for discussion Mary Lincoln stands in comparison to her remarkable husband Few women at that time could have stood eually with him In constrast the story of Lizzy Keckly is powerful She was an amazing woman who was born a slave the unrecognized daughter of her master She lived within her own biological family serving them as a slave She eventually was able to buy her own freedom and became a successful business woman and a friend and confidant of Mary Lincoln But after the assassination she too took advantage of Mary and wrote a book about her years with Mary Lincoln that Mary saw as a betrayel one of many in her life A fantastic book that brings to life these two intriguing women I have long wanted to have a better understanding of Mary Lincoln and her relationship with Abraham Lincoln and I now feel that I do Now I m going to read Elizabeth Keckly s memoir I cannot wait to discuss this with my discussion group this week An interesting read and very DiscussableCons Way Too Much Historical Detail And Way too much historical detail and love history the book is about 325 pages long only the last 100 pages actually deal with the friendship between these two women and finally not real thrilled with all of the assumptions that the author makes such and such might have done this or the family might have done that Based on all of the research the author did she should have been able to make some judgments or come to some conclusions Still fascinating to read about a friendship that really should not have been based on the times and the history and background surrounding these two people I m giving this 3 stars but it just barely makes itUnfortunately the sub title of the book is very misleading Mrs Lincoln and Mrs Keckly don t even meet until page 200 on the eve of Lincoln s first inauguration Also unfortunately much of the remaining 125 pages involves Civil War politics I did want to now about the friendship of these women but perhaps the intricacies of that friendship cannot truly be All Roads Lead Home known and this was after all non fictionMary Lincoln was vain arrogant and selfish I did not like her very much and neither was she very well liked in her lifetime Lizzy Keckly on the other hand was a remarkable woman While still a slave she was respected and trusted in the white community so much so that white husbands could and did give her money to buy the yard goods and trimmings for sewing their wives dressesnowing that Lizzy would find a bargain and bring back all the change She was smart and she was literate She observed how free blacks owned property and ran businesses and she developed a plan for her own future She negotiated the price for purchasing her freedom The self reliance she always said she learned from slavery and for which she claimed to be grateful was perhaps little than the powerful instinct to let nothing interfere with her survival If she was the only person in the world at that moment thinking of Elizabeth Keckly s future it was enough as a slave she had felt isolated futureless unbidden by hope. Orge such an unlikely bond at a time when relations between blacks and whites were tearing the nation apart Beginning with their respective childhoods in the slaveholding states OF VIRGINIA AND KENTUCKY THEIR STORY Virginia and Kentucky their story us through the years of tragic Civil War the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the early Reconstruction period An author in her own right Keckly wrote one of the most detailed biographies of Mary Lincoln ever published and though it led to a bitter feud between the friends it is one of the many rich resources that have enhanced Fleischner's trove of original findingsA remarkable riveting work of scholarship that reveals the legacy of slavery and sheds new light on the Lincoln White House Mrs Lincoln and Mrs Keckly brings to life a mesmerizing intimate aspect of Civil War history and underscores the inseparability of black and white in our nation's herita. I bought this book upon visiting the Mary Todd Lincoln childhood home in Lexington KY along with my aunt and mother I ve also visited the Farmington home of Joshua Speed Abraham Lincoln s friend and read some of their correspondence thereI love stories of unusual friendships and this story of a president s wife s friendship with a former slave sounded promising When criticisms of Mary Lincoln broke down her other friendships she drew closer to her dress maker Mrs Lizzy Keckly an astute business woman in her own right and at that point a freed woman It was funny to read about Mrs Keckly coming into the White House during tense war room counsels for dress fittingsI also bought the book because I d heard stories of Mary Todd Lincoln being highly critical of Abe Lincoln and everyone else shrewish and even insane Someone had said that this book countered some of those claims and presented her in a favorable light So I wanted to read something to balance what I d heardThis was not a historical fiction novel or a fictionalized history nor does it read like one In the back there are thirty four pages of references notes taken from public documents and private correspondence and when a certain aspect was unknown the author Jennifer Fleischner said so rather than making something up She did sometimes list possibilities as she did when talking about Mrs Keckly s relationship with her son s father but no surviving record remained as to her true feelings about himStill there were many interesting worthwhile or troubling anecdotes and we can t help but feel for Lizzy Keckly during her slavery The story that stood out in my mind the most was about when she at age 5 was put in charge of the white family s baby She rocked him so hard that he fell out of the crib and she tried to scoop him back up with a shovel to return him to the crib That was when she was caught and whipped It s hard for most of today s readers imagining someone so young being in charge of an infant much less facing violence for not nowing what to do in that situationNone of the people in this book seemed very likable They tended to be highly critical of one another in their correspondence mostly for laughs While I enjoyed some of the snippets of the correspondence I do love a good correspondence story too some of it read appallingly like the gossip of those glamour tabloids or the euivalent of those times not really something I was interested inIf I had to pick a character that I liked it would ve been the bit character Elizabeth Blair Lee whose indness and verbal reassurances enabled her to eep friendships on both sides of the north south divide She had managed to remain friends with Varina Davis And she did so in spite of Mrs Davis s pronouncement that she was no longer associating with Republicans the party against slavery I liked that line because I love the few brave souls who are able to maintain friendships across the political aisle today Elizabeth Lee was good to Mary Lincoln after Abraham s death as well even if she could not stay as long as Mary wantedMrs Keckly the former slave also had to face a culture shift in coming north She could also recall the shock of coming north where people might mean well but were not by nature warm and impulsive For one ind word spoken two harsh ones were uttered I also loved Mr Lincoln s response to the criticism of the Lincolns hosting one of Mary s sisters grieving the loss of a Confederate soldier her husband Lincoln didn t bother trying to apologize for the man s politics or military choices but simply said Excuse me General Sickles my wife and I are in the habit of choosing our own guests That sounds like the same Lincoln who wrote With malice toward none with charity for allI didn t think that this book really improved the public image of Mary Lincoln s character very much Yes we pitied her the various bereavements and the hardships of her youth such as losing her mother But we still found her to be vindictive judgmental controlling critical and manipulative Well acuainted with retail therapy as it

s nown today 
known today Lincoln was also drastically over budget on her spending Plus it wasn t really retail oriented but the top of the top in costly fashion Mary was deceptive and unethical in hiding it as she was unethical in some of her political dealings on Lincoln s behalf He is too honest to take the proper care of his interests And yes she probably was insane as well I did like Mary s refusal to hide from shame howeverI thought it was funny that Mrs Lincoln saw another woman Mrs Horatio Taft wearing a bonnet with a purple ribbon that Mrs Lincoln wanted for her own bonnet and she had the boldness and audacity to ask for itIn this account Abraham didn t love Mary so much as she manipulated him into marrying her She d implied that he d promised her than he had in their correspondence although he didn t like her He d thought she was fat But being unused to the couettery of high society of the times he didn t now how to politely extricate himself from the situation and wanted to do the right thing by herWhen we d visited Joshua Speed s Farmington the correspondence and the history told of Lincoln s depression during that time and made it sound like He Was Depressed Because Of The Temporary Break In His was depressed because of the temporary break in his with Mary This book made it sound like he d been depressed not because their relationship had severed but because he felt like the right thing to do was to marry her and he didn t want to He d asked Joshua Speed about his own marriage and romance and Speed had indicated that things had gotten better after he d married Apparently that gave Lincoln the courage to do the same I pity the manOne report had Mary Lincoln chasing Abraham into the streets with a nife Abraham disarmed her and said Now stay in the house and don t disgrace us in the eyes of the world according to Stephen Whitehurst s interview with William HurndonI thought it was funny that Abraham Lincoln bought her a copy of Mary G Chandler s The Elements of Character hoping it would help his Mary to learn self control particularly of her temper There is no indication that Mary who understandably preferred novels. A vibrant social history set against the backdrop of the Antebellum south and the Civil War that recreates the lives and friendship of two exceptional women First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln and her mulatto dressmaker Elizabeth Keckly I consider you my best living friend Mary Lincoln wrote to Elizabeth Keckly in 1867 and indeed theirs was a close if tumultuous relationship Born into slavery mulatto Elizabeth Keckly was Mary Lincoln's dressmaker confidante and mainstay during the difficult years that the Lincolns occupied the White House and the early years of Mary's widowhood But she was a fascinating woman in her own right independent and already well established as the dressmaker to the Washington elite when she was first hired by Mary Lincoln upon her arrival in the nation's capital Lizzy had bought her freedom in 1855 and come to Washington determined to make a life for hers. Anyway ever read itParticularly in later years this deep seated insecurity and sense of powerlessness feelings that underlay what look like manic depressive mood swings form today s perspective drove her efforts at control especially over other people I had not realized that control issues were part of the manic depressive repertoire maybe so for some people than others but it does explain a few thingsI thought this was an interesting contrast on how the two friends Mrs Mary Lincoln and Mrs Lizzy Keckly dealt with grief just because people do react to grief differently Most of all she Mrs Keckly was struck by Mary s need to get rid of whatever Willie Mrs Lincoln s dead son loved by her intense almost supernatural dread of coming into contact with Willie s belongings a reaction so different from her own love of momentoes For Lizzy being in possession of the belongings of a lost loved one was like being in possession of one s past and identity contained in the material memories of one s most heartfelt attachments that not even slaveholders could repossess For Mary rage at the loss at the narcissistic injury that the other s death had dealt to her overrode all other feelings and ridding herself of the other s possessions while devoting herself to amassing an elaborate mourning wardrobe was her way of eradicating the injury and shoring up her damaged selfI liked the uote that He Lincoln still had to will himself out of depressions indeed his famous reliance on stories and anecdotes was a way to lift his moods I do love some of Lincoln s funny anecdotes and I like that he was able to lift his moods and cope by using them I also liked most of the stories in this volume about his playfulness with his own sons although perhaps he was too lenient with themI also liked Lincoln s uote when he met Mrs Keckly as she was fitting a dress to Mrs Lincoln I declare you look charming in that dress Mrs Keckly has met with successIt became clear from various discussions including those Mr Lincoln had with Fredrick Douglass that while Lincoln considered slavery an evil he was still uite prejudiced against the race He did not want to alter the social ineuality of the races merely the state of slavery Lincoln also blamed the war on the African Americans Fredrick Douglass found Lincoln s views incoherent although he did appreciate the respect the president showed him personally I would ve called Lincoln s views logically inconsistent But this book was a history of the views of the times not a rewritten history of the views we d wished people had and the people in those times were necessarily influenced by prevailing views to some degree even those people working for freedomIf I didn t like the accounts of Mary s critical nature distancing herself from all her friends and even at the end of her life her family I also didn t like Abraham s less than ideal support of the oppressed And SPOILER I was also appalled by Lizzy Keckly s betrayal of Mary Lincoln by writing her memoirs later in life betraying so many confidences Even if Mrs Keckly had good motives that was still a terrible breech of confidence That s why I said that none of the people in this book were really that likable which at times made for a difficult readSome of the political statements made could apply today Speaking of slaves Fredrick Douglass said They have no national purse no offices no reputation with which to corrupt Congress or to tempt men mighty in elouence and influence into their service Oh no They have nothing to commend them but their unadorned humanity They are human that s all only human I feel like the same could be said today of the unbornOr here human I feel like the
same could be 
could be today of the unbornOr here one of Lincoln s uotes on slavery It is the eternal struggle between two principles right and wrong throughout the world It is the same spirit that say You work and toil and earn bread and I ll eat it No matter in what shape it comes whether from the mouth of a ing who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race it is the same tyrannical principle I found that one interesting having seen similar uips about communism entering AmericaAnother one of Fredrick Douglass s uotes We are taught as with the emphasis of an earthuake that nations not less than individuals are subjects of the moral government of the universe and that persistent transgressions of the laws of this Divine government will certainly bring national sorrow shame suffering and death He thought that the nation practicing the evil of slavery had brought this horrific war upon itself It made me wonder whether he would think the same of other evils today pollution and the environment for example or cold heartedness towards those unable to care for themselves or even abortions of the unborn I can t believe I FINALLY got through this book I put it down twice deciding not to read it bc the author was horrible She s a historian and she was dry But when she finally got around to telling the story she was writing about it got very interesting the last 75 pages I don t now if I just wasn t in the mood to read this or if it got bogged down in the details and I got bored *WITH IT I WAS SO LOOKING FORWARD TO READING * it I was so looking forward to reading and it disapointed me The author is a colleague of mine and when I started reading the book I wondered whether or not I should put it on this list What if I didn t like it Could I write honest comments I need not have worried This is a very well researched and well written book a dual biography of two women one who grew up as a slave the other with a privileged but emotionally challenging background Their lives and eventual relationship makes fascinating reading and illuminates Lincoln the civil war slavery and emancipation from a different than usual angle casting new light on this incredibly important era and these vital issuesHighly recommended to lovers of history I did enjoy learning historical facts about both Elizabeth Keckley and Mary Todd Lincoln I wish that the author had wrapped up the novel as nicely as she had written the book I feel that her impressions take aways summary of the two strong histor. Elf as a free black and she soon had Washington correspondents reporting that stately carriages stand before her door whose haughty owners sit before Lizzy docile as lambs while she tells them what to wear Mary Lincoln had hired Lizzy in part because she was considered a high society seamstress and Mary an outsider in Washington's social circles was desperate for social cachet With her husband struggling to eep the nation together Mary turned increasingly to her seamstress for companionship support and advice and over the course of those trying years Lizzy Keckly became her confidante and closest friendWith Mrs Lincoln and Mrs Keckly pioneering historian Jennifer Fleischner allows us to glimpse the intimate dynamics of this unusual friendship for the first time and traces the pivotal events that enabled these two women one born to be a mistress the other to be a slave to .
Mrs Lincoln and Mrs Keckly The Remarkable Story of the Friendship Between a First Lady and a Former Slave