About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for An American Marriage: The Untold Story of Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd

Greetings from the National Archives’ flagship building in Washington, DC, which sits on the ancestral lands of the Nacotchtank peoples. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and it's my pleasure to welcome you to this virtual author lecture with Michael Burlingame, author of An American Marriage, a new book about Abraham and Mary Lincoln.

Before we begin, though, I’d like to tell you about two upcoming programs you can view on our YouTube channel.

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On Thursday, June 17, at noon, we’ll hear from Peter S. Canellos, author of The Great Dissenter. The “dissenter”—Justice John Marshall Harlan—broke with his colleagues on the Supreme Court and became the nation’s prime defender of the rights of Black people, immigrant laborers, and people in distant lands occupied by the United States.

And on Tuesday, June 22, at noon, author Les Standiford will tell us about his new book, Battle for the Big Top. Standiford reveals the stories behind the three men—James Bailey, P. T. Barnum, and John Ringling—who created the American circus.

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The actions of the great figures of history often seem preordained and almost always play out on the public stage. The human side—the daily life at home—is harder to uncover.

Michael Burlingame has set out to draw back the curtain on the domestic life of Abraham Lincoln. As President, Lincoln contended with political and military battlegrounds during the Civil War. His home life, says Burlingame, did not provide the relief he sought.

Drawing upon diaries, correspondence, memoirs, newspaper accounts, and federal records, Michael Burlingame explores the marriage of Abraham and Mary Lincoln and the burdens the couple bore.

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Michael Burlingame, holder of the Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies at the University of Illinois Springfield, was born in Washington, DC, and raised in nearby Arlington. His first book, The Inner World of Abraham Lincoln, appeared in 1994. Since then, he has written and edited over a dozen other Lincoln books, including Abraham Lincoln: A Life, a two-volume biography that won the 2010 Lincoln Prize and was deemed one of the five best books of the year by The Atlantic. This October, Pegasus Books will release his study, “The Black Man’s President”: Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and the Quest for Racial Justice. He is currently president of the Springfield-based Abraham Lincoln Association.

Now let’s hear from Michael Burlingame. Thank you for joining us today.