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Friday, March 31, 2006

Looking for Mrs. Lincoln

And finding her on the stage in Thousand Oaks, California.

This is the first I've heard of this. There's a new play entitled, "The Insanity Case of Mrs. A. Lincoln," written by one Richard Goodman. The Conejo Players of Thousand Oaks will put on the play from April 7 through May 6, 2006, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. According to the Thousand Oaks Acorn (Historical drama coming to local stage):

The cast of characters includes a group of strong-willed personalities, several who made names for themselves in 19th Century America. Robert Todd Lincoln had his mother certified legally incompetent and took responsibility for her financial affairs. She was committed to a mental hospital.
Goodman explores such issues as: Was she insane, the victim of poorly prescribed medication or was Robert a greedy, cold-hearted son ruled by a ruthless wife?
As the story unfolds, prominent attorneys, pioneering doctors and a Civil War correspondent share the stage with Mary Todd and her only surviving son, Robert.

I would love to see this play.

I've been fascinated by the commitment of Mary Todd Lincoln since about 1979, when I worked at Isham, Lincoln & Beale, in Chicago. There I met senior partner, Charlie Bane. He took a liking to me, and I to him. He's the one who got me to realize there was more to the Lincoln family and the Lincoln legacy than what we were taught in school.

By the time I came along, Charlie had pretty much left the demands of litigation behind. He had taken on the role of firm historian. As such, he was the keeper of the records for the firm. Whenever time permitted (which wasn't often), I would go into his office and together, we would pour over some legal files and correspondence from the 1800's.

Mostly bound volumes of copies of correspondence, taken individually, there wasn't much there that would knock your socks off. But, the collection as a whole, which lined the walls of his office, was just awesome.

The Lincoln in the firm name was, of course, Robert Todd Lincoln. The Isham name is intertwined throughout the Lincoln family. I never did figure out who Beale was. The firm was one of the most prestigious law firms, if not the most, in the world at that time. The firm has long since disbanded. And, Mr. Bane has passed away.

But, anyway. Some of those documents were directly related to Mrs. Lincoln's situation. I often wonder what became of those documents and if they're being properly taken care of.

Posted by Marie at March 31, 2006 11:53 PM