Here and Now

Drone Technology Goes Global, Pakistan Charged with Supporting the Taliban, Mary Todd Lincoln’s Commitment Papers: Today on Here and Now

1:06pm: A BBC investigation finds that Pakistan is secretly supporting the Taliban, training fighters who attack American forces in Afghanistan. US military personnel have made similar charges against Pakistan recently. We’ll get the story.

1:12pm: The US is aggressively using drones against insurgents in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It’s also used armed drones in the hunt for Al Qaeda in places like Yemen. But the technology is now going global, as countries like China and Iran test them for their own use, and for sale. We’ll find out who else wants the technology.

1:35pm: The Frazier History Museum illuminates a darker period in the life of Mary Todd Lincoln — her commitment to a mental institution.

In-Depth News Local News

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.

Audio MP3

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.

Local News

Frazier Museum Purchases Mary Todd Lincoln Insanity Papers

by Gabe Bullard

The Frazier International History Museum in Louisville has purchased historic papers documenting Mary Todd Lincoln’s commitment to an Illinois insane asylum.

The papers were first found in 1933, and were put up for auction when the finder passed away. The Frazier paid $32 thousand for the documents at a Cincinnati auction Friday. Spokesperson Krista McHone says the papers will be part of a Civil War exhibition next year, and eventually added to the permanent collection.

“As many people have heard, we’re really trying to step away from being known as the gun museum and really become the region’s history museum,” she says.

The funds to purchase the papers came from the museum’s founder, Owsley Brown Frazier. McHone says the museum had hoped to spend only $25 thousand on the documents.