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Frazier Exhibit Recalls Troubled Times of Mary Todd Lincoln

A new exhibit at Louisville’s Frazier History Museum includes documents that recall a turbulent chapter in the post-Washington life of Mary Todd Lincoln.

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It’s the first public display of the papers related to the former first lady’s commitment to an Illinois mental institution, an action initiated by her son.

Frazier Curator of Collections Kelly Williams Wilkerson says the documents were purchased at auction last year from descendants of the family that once owned Bellevue Place, the sanitarium where Mary Todd Lincoln was sent for treatment.

“We have a court proceeding document, where Mary Todd was legally declared insane, and that gives way to a warrant that we have for her arrest and commitment at Bellevue Place. And we also have a ledger for Bellevue, where she’s signed into the institution, she said.

In the spring of 1875, Robert Lincoln, a 31 year old Chicago attorney, was at wit’s end about his mother. Mary Todd Lincoln, also living in Chicago, was suffering from hallucinations and delusions, shopped compulsively and walked around with thousands of dollars sewn into her petticoat.

Having lost three of her four boys to illness over the years, she lived in constant fear that something would happen to her eldest and only surviving son, although he was in no danger.  A telegram she sent to Robert was recounted in the PBS documentary “Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided.”

“Rouse yourself, and live for my sake. All I have is yours from this hour. I am praying every moment for your life to be spared to your mother,” Mary wrote.

“Robert consulted with seven of the best doctors in the Midwest, and they all told him that if he did not act, something horrible was going to happen,” says historian Jason Emerson, author of The Madness of Mary Lincoln.

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Here and Now

Today on Here and Now

The Dow Jones plunged almost 200 points yesterday amid investor anxiety that Congress won’t pass a bill to raise the debt ceiling by August 2nd. The market rebounded slightly, and today House speaker John Boehner is trying to rally his caucus around a plan to raise the debt ceiling in two stages—one immediately, the second in six months. John Bressnahan, senior congressional reporter for Politico, joins us to explain.

Norway’s intelligence chief has said there’s no proof that the man behind last week’s deadly Oslo bombing and camp shooting was part of a broader far-right extremist movement in Europe. But it has been widely reported that Anders Breivik posted on British nationalist websites, and he claimed to have 600 Facebook friends who were members of the two-year-old English Defense League. Breivik mentioned the EDL six times in his manifesto, and Breivik and the EDL apparently shared a view of Muslims that’s apparently become common in the European far-right, one that adherents say is not based on racism but is instead grounded the belief that Muslims are culturally incompatible withwesterners. So who and what is the English Defense League? And what’s the climate in Britain that given rise to them? New Yorker Staff writer Lauren Collins recently explored these issues in a piece she wrote for the magazine, and she’ll tell us what she learned.

And let’s say you’re one of the most famous actors in the United States and your career is wildly successful… and then your brother assassinates the president. Can you make a comeback, or is it curtains? We’ll find out in a piece on Edwin and John Wilkes Booth. (Photo: Edwin Booth as Hamlet, Library of Congress)

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Local News

Lincoln Birthplace Building To Close For Renovation

The Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park in Larue County will close one of its buildings for renovations later this month. The Memorial Building, which houses a traditional Kentucky frontier cabin, will be closed to the public from September 28 until February of 2010.

The renovations will include the replacement of the roof and windows, as well as the restoration of the original bronze doors and skylight. Lincoln memorial building

Spokesperson Doug Richardson says the 1.6 million dollar renovation is the first major work on the building since it was completed in 1911.

“Our goal is to have it as much as possible look the way that it did almost a hundred years ago when it was finished,” he said.

Abraham Lincoln was born near Hodgenville in 1809. His family moved to Indiana when he was seven.

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Local News

Louisville Lincoln Memorial To Be Dedicated Thursday

logo8_2A dedication ceremony will be held this week for a new Abraham Lincoln memorial at Louisville’s Waterfront Park.

The memorial includes a 12 foot sculpure of the 16th president and displays depicting the Kentucky native’s life, all created by local artist Ed Hamilton.

The memorial was commissioned as part of the Lincoln Bicentennial celebration. Ashley Cox with the Waterfront Development Corporation says it’s been many years in the making.

“Just for this memorial itself has been a four year process. “And probably from the time that (state) Senator Dan Kelly approached the waterfront development corporation about doing a memorial at Waterfront Park for Lincoln, that probably has been about ten years,” Cox said.

Senator Kelly is from Springfield, Kentucky, where the Lincoln family has roots.

The dedication ceremony will be held at 8:45pm Thursday at Waterfront Park. Gates open at 8:00pm.   It’s free and open to the public.

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Local News

New Lincoln Penny To Be Introduced Thursday

On Thursday, the second of four Abraham Lincoln bicentennial pennies will be unveiled in Lincoln City, Indiana.

To celebrate Lincoln’s 200th birthday, four pennies are being put into circulation. The first depicts Lincoln’s boyhood log cabin and was introduced in Hodgenville in February. The second penny shows Lincoln as a young man in Indiana and the third commemorates Lincoln’s days as a lawyer in Illinois. The final penny will depict an unfinished Capitol Dome and will be introduced in November.

U.S. Mint spokesperson Greg Hernandez says after all of the pennies have been printed, a new design for the back of the coin will be put into place.

“Obviously 2009 will be the four aspects of Lincoln’s life,” he says. “2010 will have a different tails going forward and obviously it’ll be up to Congress to determine what will be on the back of the Lincoln Penny for years to come.”

Hernandez says about 635 million of the first two Lincoln Bicentennial designs will be made.

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State of Affairs

The Inner Life of Lincoln


Thursday, February 12, 2009
The Inner Life of Lincoln
We know him as the Great Emancipator – leader who shepherded our country through one of the most tumultuous times in its history. But as it turns out, Abraham Lincoln might have experienced as much internal turmoil as he did political strife. Some experts speculate that Lincoln suffered from depression throughout his life. Thursday, on Abe’s birthday, we’ll talk with Joshua Wolf Shenk, author of “Lincoln’s Melancholy,” to learn more about what was going on under that famous stovepipe hat.

Listen to the Show

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Local News

New Penny To Be Introduced At KY Lincoln Celebration

Ceremonies will be held across the country tomorrow to mark the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln.

In Lincoln’s hometown of Hodgenville, a re-designed penny honoring the 16th president will be officially released into circulation.

Greg Hernandez, spokesperson for the U.S. Mint, says:

“On the tail side, there will be a log cabin image that will commemorate the birth and early childhood of Abraham Lincoln from 1809 to 1816. On the heads side, it will continue to have the familiar bust of president lincoln,” Hernandez said.

Governor Steve Beshear will be among the speakers at Thursday’s Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration in Hodgenville.

It was moved from the Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site to Larue County High School because of lingering damage from the ice storm.

(Photo courtesy of U.S. Mint)