Editors Note:

Italicized areas have been drawn from outside sources. The Notes page references these sources.

 
           
           

           

The Demise of Mary Lincoln:

An Artistic Conspiracy
         
           
  Editors' Introduction
           
 

Mary Lincoln's was a life full of tragedy. When Mary was six her mother died; in a span of six months between 1849 and 1850, Mary's father, maternal grandmother, and four-year-old son Edward Baker Lincoln all died; eleven-year-old son Willie died in the White House in 1862; Abraham Lincoln was assassinated while Mary sat beside him holding his hand in 1865; and her youngest boy Thomas "Tad" Lincoln died in 1871 at age seventeen. (1)

The following collection documents correspondences between Mary Lincoln and our father, Barry Bauman. These letters along with some other Lincoln relics were shown to us some eight or nine days before our father's death, with the stipulation that we should write about them but not until our father should have passed on. Our father was most anxious that these letters be published because he felt that Mrs. Lincoln had been maligned and that the letters would explain much of the real Mrs. Lincoln to the world and place her in a more favorable light. (2)

The surviving letters were found in a trunk of documents in July 2011. (3) Mary Lincoln lived in a conspiratorial world. The information you are about to read records the astonishing facts surrounding one of these conspiracies. The letters are presented without quotation marks. Source material notes are placed individually at the bottom of each page and collectively, with the bibliographic references, on the Notes page. Navigation to the next page is located below right.

 
           
  William Bauman
Edward Bauman

February 2012
 
           
           

You Must Not Fail Me
                               
                             
 

 
                               
 

  Springfield, April 14th, 1928

 
                               
  My dear Sir,  
                               
 

On this harrowing anniversary, it is with feelings of more than ordinary portent, that I venture to address you this first note. My life was always so chequered; naturally so gay and hopeful as a young girl--my prominent desires, all granted me--my noble husband, who was my 'light and life,' and my highest ambition gratified--but ill luck presided at my birth. I lived in a conspiratorial world, a world that continued beyond my living days. (4)

I was accused, on account of my Southern birth, of being a Rebel at heart, of not sympathizing with my husband's views and principles. I was watched and spied upon--I seemed to be the scapegoat for both North and South. Northern critics said I was two-thirds slavery and the other third secesh. Your world has long forgotten there was a congressional committee called upon to investigate rumors of my treasonous acts. (5)

Yes, yes, Mr. Lincoln's life was always exposed. Ah, no one knows what it is to live in constant dread of some fearful tragedy. The President had been warned so often, that I trembled for him on every public occasion. I always had a presentiment that he would meet with a sudden and violent end. I prayed to God to protect my beloved husband from the hands of the conspirators, all to no avail. (6)

Even, my once beloved son, Robert Todd Lincoln, conspired against me. His application to try the question of my sanity, the writ of inquisition ordering my arrest, the verdict of the jury finding me insane, and his petition to be appointed conservator of my estate all bear the same date, May 19, 1875. I am brought to tears at his words on that infamous day, "I have no doubt my mother is insane." I have been a deeply wronged woman, by one, for whom I would have poured out my life's blood. But, God is just, retribution follows those who act wickedly in life. (7)

I did not live a single day without the beautiful & consoling belief that our beloved ones, whose home is in Heaven can, unseen by us, enter into our midst, witness the anguish we suffer and control us by their invisible presence. I now know this belief has been sanctified as I overlap with yourself. There is only a very slight veil that separates us from the loved and lost and to me there was comfort in the thought that though unseen by you, they are very near, and they are. (8)

I fear I am wearying you with so long a letter but perhaps, never in history, will such a conspiracy, again occur as ours--therefore there is no parallel--to our case. Consider this communication, as sacred as possible, breathe it not even to your wife.

Please say nothing about my return to any one. You must not fail me.--Answer immediately. (9)

 
                               
 

Mrs. A. Lincoln

 
                               
                               
                               

An Artistic Conspiracy

                               
                             
 

 
                               
 

  Springfield, May 15th, 1928

 
                               
  My dear Sir,    
                               
 

Your note is just received. Although, I am suffering, today, with one, of my severe headaches, by way of relieving your mind, hasten to reply. I understand your confusion--in time you will come to understand. (10)

Four decades passed, from my last trip to Springfield, before any one took interest in me. I was a forgotten soul, and then, over a three-year period, a series of publications, and events revived my lost memory. You must read these publications with due haste. (11)

1925--William E. Barton published The Life of Abraham Lincoln, in which he re-examined my insanity trial.

1926--My son, Robert Todd Lincoln, died in July.

1927--William E. Barton published The Women Lincoln Loved, in which he asserted the most perfidious lies.

1927--Myra Helmer Pritchard, the granddaughter of a guardian spirit, fought unsuccessfully to publish The Dark Days of Abraham Lincoln's Widow, as Revealed by Her Own Letters.

1928--Katherine Helm, the sweet and genteel daughter of one of my half-sisters, Emilie Todd Helm, published The True Story of Mary, Wife of Lincoln.

1928--Honoré Willsie Morrow published the praised Mary Todd Lincoln: An Appreciation of the Wife of Abraham Lincoln.

1928--Ida Tarbell wrote two widely read articles in the Ladies Home Journal in February and March titled: Mary Todd Lincoln: Wife of Abraham Lincoln.

And, even in your day, there is another forgotten soul, Mr. Francis Bicknell Carpenter. I first met him February 6, 1864--he always had the reputation of being a very honest man. I always felt great pride, in the success of his great painting the "Emancipation Proclamation." In 1865, he asked to paint my portrait, but, I had to decline for my nervous state, at that time, made it impossible for me to sit for a photograph. I would have liked to have obliged him. Instead, I referred him to the excellent painted likeness of me at Brady's in N.Y., taken in 1861, and enclosed herewith. In truth, he had already painted my likeness on two previous occasions. (12)

Francis B. Carpenter "Mary Lincoln" 1864
Indiana University Museum of Art
Bloomington, Indiana

F. B. Carpenter "Lincoln Family" Detail
New York State Historical Society
New York, New York  1865

 

I know, the above will be perplexing, but a storm is brewing on the distant horizon, a storm of money and greed. An artistic conspiracy is taking place and, I only pray, you will return good for evil. I will help you, and steer your life accordingly, but the days' work will be yours. I know I can trust your benevolent soul to assist my needs with these circumstances. Praying you will excuse, my troubling you, so much, on a subject, that is of such vital importance to us. (13)

 
                               
 

I remain very truly

ML

 
                               
                               
           

Principle Conspirator
                               
                             
 

 
                               
 

  Springfield, June 20th, 1928

 
                               
  My dear Sir,    
                               
 

With much pleasure I acknowledge the receipt of one of your acceptable letters, & notwithstanding many weeks have passed since writing you, I have frequently intended doing so, & you have been oftentimes in my thoughts. Although I am suffering with a fearful headache I fear I am in villanous hands. I am brought to tears when I think over the wrong and injustice that has been done me. (14)

I am very vehement against the greatest scoundrels of the age...The first of whom I pronounce a very profligate man. He will prove himself an ungrateful villain in this matter who does not know, what truth means. He was a wretched young man but old in sin and falsehoods--a "monster of mankind." The villain I speak of is Lew Bloom, but, as you will come to see, that is not his real name. (15)

Bloom has worn many nefarious hats. He was born August 8, 1859, in Philadelphia, although, his family soon moved to Reading. As a boy, he tried his hand as a jockey only to give it up at thirteen for a life as an acrobat, dancer, and clown in the circus. After several years, he returned to Reading, to become a boxer and manager of the depraved Bijou Saloon.

Always the clown, Bloom left Reading and went to New York to try his hand on the vaudeville theatre circuit. And where did he find his "success"? In the most lowly of roles, playing a tramp. He talked with a rasping whiskey voice, his fingers twitched, his eyes and mouth moved nervously, and his gaze shifted guiltily. After one performance, in 1885, he was arrested for coming to fisticuffs, with the theatre's manager.

 
                               
  Lew Bloom

"The Millionaire's Son Out of
Work," in Vaudeville. 1907
 
                               
 

He now swims in the cold waters of the art world. He befriended Albert Blakelock and bought forty paintings from him, only to sell them through New York dealers. He considers himself an art expert and collector. He even dabbles in oil painting. I will always remember, his statement after his arrest--"a fine martyrdom for the sake of art"--as if the man knows anything about art. (16)

This man will meet the doom which a just Heaven ever awards the transgressor. Even if Bloom succeeds in being a rich man, what advantage will it be to him, who has gained it in some cases most unjustly. Truly the Leopard cannot change his spots.

I write so rapidly I fear my letters are not so easily read. Please burn this letter, so hurriedly written that I dare not read it over. Write very frequently. (17)

 
                               
 

Mrs. A. Lincoln

 
                               
                               

Co-Conspirator
                               
                             
 

 
                               
 

  Springfield, December 21, 1928

 
                               
  My dear Sir,    
                               
 

For some time past, I have intended writing you, but each day has brought its own separate calls, causing a delay, which has been unintentional. I am coughing so badly that I can scarcely write. Sorry to learn of your circumstances. Your life will get better once the university is in your past. But, I must push forward and introduce you to the plot's co-conspirator. (19)

I have been impressed with the harrowing thought that Bloom had an understanding with the co-conspirator and he knew his man. This deceitful individual is Edward Milch, owner of New York's Milch Galleries, which he founded in 1912. In the early years, a large part of his business consisted of framing, cleaning, and restoration services, although he quickly saw that the real money was in the sale of American paintings. We all know, the love of money is the root of all evil. (20)

 
                               
 

Edward Milch 1931
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Washington, D.C.
   
                               
 

Several days ago, Bloom brought a painting to the attention of his co-conspirator and together they have unleashed a most deceitful plot. The painting in question is a portrait of myself and carries the signature and date, "F. B. Carpenter 1864." I enclose herewith an image of the painting. You may wonder why Bloom is forever the principle conspirator. The answer is simple--Bloom needed Milch, but, Milch didn't need Bloom. I fear between ourselves we have reason to distrust these men. (21)

These men were cold and unsympathizing strangers who never dreamed of my anguish. God is just and the day of retribution will come to all such, if not in your world, in the great hereafter, to which those hoary-headed sinners are so rapidly hastening, with an innocent conscience. (22)

I have determined to shed no more tears over all their cruel falsehoods, yet, just now, I feel almost forsaken by God and man,--except by the latter to be vilified. The serpents that have crossed our pathways, will be remembered by both of us with horror. We cannot mistake the trysting hour is near. (23)

   
                               
 

M.L.

 
                               
                               

The Affidavit
                               
                             
 

 
                               
 

  Springfield, Feb. 1, 1929

 
                               
  My dear Sir,    
                               
 

Your very welcome & agreeable letter of the 3rd of Dec. has just been received. Only now, can I show you, the below 1929 notarized document that was affixed to the back, of the painting. The document is damaged, but, readable. I know you have never seen this before. Your mission is to fill in the missing letters.

Say nothing, of what I have written you--to any one. (24)

 
                               
 

The Affidavit
 
                               
 

ML

 
                               
           

Unknowing Participants
                               
                             
 

 
                               
 

  Springfield, Feb. 13, 1929

 
                               
  My dear Mr Bauman,    
                               
 

It is impossible for me to express to you, the great pleasure your letter of the 9th of April, afforded me in this land so far removed from you, my heart and my thoughts revert continually to your little circle. I send you belated birthday wishes. (As you know, April 9th is also the anniversary of the signing of the articles of surrender at Appomattox.) How much I regret to say to you that I am suffering for the last two days with a severe headache, which the doctor tells me may settle in my head if I do not remain very quiet.

The plot is thickening quickly, and now, involves an unknowing participant. It appears as if the fiends have let loose. In yesterday's New York Times, their villanous aspersions, were unleashed. I send the vile falsehoods herewith. As you will see, this article became a mutating journalistic meme through time.

 
                               
 

 
 


February 12. 1929
 
                               
  Was there ever such cruel newspaper abuse lavished upon an unoffending woman as has been showered on my head? The conduct in New York is disgusting me with the whole business. Write immediately. (25)  
                               
 

I remain very truly

ML

 
                               
                               
                             
                             

 
                             

Springfield, May 20th, 1965

 
                             
My dear Mr. Bauman,  
                             
I am writing this morning with a broken heart after a sleepless night of great mental suffering. The same evil spirit, that originated the New York rumor, is evidently again at work, and in the most malignant form too...and is without doubt, just now being republished--with such eagerness in our public journals. From today's Chicago paper, I have clipped another interesting editorial, such articles injure those from whom they emanate, far more than myself....It is very painful for me to be treated in this manner. The conspiracy grows. (26)  
                             

 


May 16, 1965
 
                             
What freedom & insolence there is, in our American Press--I have always known what villanous & malignant falsehoods that "Tribune" article contained...Ignorance of their lying malice is best for me. When will their vile fabrications cease. I am sufficiently agitated already without reading such vile & wicked trash...I think myself that the most dignified course would be, by our friends, not to notice any article against me. But, alas, there are other unknowing participants. (27)  
                             

National Geographic
May, 1965

Mary Lincoln "Wife and Widow"
by Carl Sandburg. Frontis Page.
1932
 
                             

I tremble when my name is coupled with persons--whom I have never seen or never expect to do so--may not entirely ruin my prospects of any future comfort--for believe me--at present--I am in the most trying & humiliating position--which you will eventually fully know.

In grief, words are a poor consolation--silence and agonizing tears are all, that is left the sufferer. I could not be more traduced. Time brings to me, as yet, no healing on its wing and I shall be only too glad, when my mission which I know is completed. When you receive this letter, I hope you will at once write me. (28)

 
                             

Mrs. A. Lincoln

 
                             
 

Accessories A, B, C, and D
                               
                             
 

 
                               
 

  Springfield, Feb. 5, 1978

 
                               
  My dear Mr. Bauman:    
                               
 

I am not at liberty to divulge certain aspects of the conspiracy at this time, but I will relate to you that the painting in your lab was offered to a local restorer for treatment. While it would not be genteel for me to reveal or discuss her "abilities," I will divulge the reason the painting found its way to her studio. She happens to be the daughter of your boss. These individuals are Accessories, A and B, in this perfidious crime.

I have obtained her treatment letters from November 9, 1977 and January 12, 1978. These were written to William Alderfer, State Historian, for the Illinois State Historical Library and I submit the following specious excerpts from the 1978 letter.

 
                               
                               
   

The painting of Mary Todd Lincoln is nearing completion. It is looking quite nice, the cleavage having flattened out nicely. In this procedure of unveiling the original artist's intent, there have been a few changes in the sitter's accessories and appearance.

The two bracelets on each hand were altered in design.

There is a cross around the neck of the sitter that was painted out.

The last restorer added a bow which was not part of Carpenter's design.

There were other slight alterations in the body and face of Mary Todd Lincoln which added years and poundage to her presence. Now after these have been removed, her portrait has more character and is a clearer version of the original artist's vision of the subject.

As our policy, we believe that the original intent of the artist is what the painting should be brought back to. The only addition we plan on leaving is the pin of Abraham Lincoln on Mary's dress. We believe this to be a later addition, or if it was original it was completely destroyed in the past history of the painting.

   
                               
                               
 

Don't you see the nervousness here? The word "original," cited four times above, was used seven times in the letter. If the pin was non-original shouldn't it have been removed?--how can you infer that it was there "originally" and then "completely destroyed?"

As with the southern rebels, these two were confederates in the crime. They injure themselves far more than they could do me, by their lies and villany. God does not allow sin to go unpunished, they have a fearful account yet to render to their Maker.

I fear I am in villanous hands. (29)

 
                               
 

I remain very truly

M.L.

 
                               
           

                               
                               
 

 
                               
  Springfield, February 5, 1978  
                               
  My dear Mr. Bauman:    
                               
  I closed and sent off my letter before I had finished all I had to say. You are still a young conservator and there is much for you to learn. It will be many years before this will all come full circle, but I can not keep it from you any longer--the two paintings are one and the same. What enemies we do have to contend with. (30)  
                               
 

Milch Galleries 1929 Appearance

 

After Treatment 1978 Appearance

 
                               
 

God what a change! Did ever a woman have to suffer so much and experience so great a change? You would not recognize me now. (31)

When these individuals completed their work, they knew there was a problem, but decided, instead, to write a three-page letter to Alderfer justifying the painting's after-treatment appearance. This odious letter is dated January 12, 1978, and I offer the following villanous excerpts.

 
                               
                               
   

The work on the Mary Todd Lincoln portrait is progressing nicely.

Conservators now limit their inpainting to lost areas alone, and do not paint over the original paint.

In order to get back to what was left of the original artistic intent, we decided with your approval to go back to what was left of the original. The treatment removed the heavy handed restoration that was used on the face and arms and hair.

We found that the Chicago Historical Society had the fan that Mary Todd Lincoln is holding.

She never wore bracelets of the kind that were pictured. She wore heavily jeweled, ornate jewelry ensembles quite like the bracelets and earings that had been overpainted.

And although many an artist idealizes their sitter, and this is true even of what we have found under the overpaint on the face, there is more character in these original paint layers.

You mentioned that the brooch in this painting is known to have been worn by Mary Todd Lincoln. We have left it for it is an important part of the painting.

We feel with the removal of the previous restoration the painting is closer to the original intent of the artist based not only on our knowledge of paint films and former restoration work, but also due to our research on Mary Todd Lincoln and her tastes in fashion.

   
                               
                               
 

They want us to pass their imperfections lightly by, and excuse so miserable of a production. Severe retribution will yet visit these wretches. What a vile, vile set they are. If their day of reckoning does not come in this world it will surely in the next for their falsehoods. (32)

Please modify & improve many of my expressions--which I used concerning these villains--for instance when I referred to their falsehoods--you can express it--in a gentle yet sarcastic manner--also clothe the language more elegantly, only conveying the same strong meaning always...quote my letter as a very private one, written entirely for your own perusal, entre nous.

I fear you will not be able to decipher this scrawl, it is most hastily written, for I am quite an invalid person. (33)

 
                               
  Mrs. A. Lincoln  
                               
  "P.S"

I have sent you two photographs of myself. If you could favor me with one of yourself it would bring a particular pleasure for me. Trusting you will pardon the liberty I have taken, I remain very respectfully, Mrs. A. Lincoln. (34)
 
                               
           

                             
                             
 

                             
 

Springfield, February 7, 1978 

                             
  My dear Mr. Bauman:
                             
 

You know how innocent I have been of the intention of doing wrong. I am very miserable and broken hearted over all of this. My Gethsemane is ever with me. (35)

I write again for I failed to disclose the third and fourth accessories to this heinous crime. When the restorer wrote Alderfer about the Lincoln pin, he asked James Hickey, Curator at the Illinois State Historical Library, what should be done. Alderfer was told to leave the brooch, for it was a representation of my ivory miniature by John Henry Brown. (36) Below are the hand-written question that Alderfer made to Hickey and the answer.

                             
 

They want a decision from me. What should I tell them (or do you want to talk with them now. I'd appreciate that.)

Leave the brooch. John Henry Brown miniature painted on ivory which is now in the National Portrait Gallery.
                             
  Alderfer replied to the restorer's second letter on February 3, 1978. I enclose a copy of this letter.
                             
 

William Alderfer Letter
February 3, 1978
                             
 

I will not discuss this now. You will understand, in time, how William Alderfer and James Hickey perpetuated the conspiracy, and became Accessories C and D to this tearful situation. I know you don't understand what this has to do with you, but you will, in due course.

It will be many years hence before I correspond again. Please favor an understanding that time makes all things right. Affectionately. (37)

 
                             
  Mary Lincoln
                             
           

Springfield
                               
                             
 

 
                               
 

  Springfield, Sept 7th, 2010

 
                               
  My dear Barry Bauman:    
                               
 

I had scarcely supposed thirty-three years would elapse, ere I should have written you, but indisposition has prevented me. For the last ten days, I have been sick with chills, and am now beginning, to feel better. Where does the time go? When I last wrote, you were a conservator at the Art Institute, and now your work is offered complimentary. Please know, the work of love, you are now performing is recorded on High. (39)

I have been informed that Dr. James Cornelius, Curator for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, has asked you to examine four paintings next week. How I loved Springfield as a young girl. Leaving Kentucky and traveling there, at the age of twenty, was such an adventure for me. Now, I live there permanently, and I hope you will have an opportunity to visit, when you are in town. It would be such a pleasure, to see you, after so many years of correspondence.

You can scarcely imagine a place, improving more rapidly than ours, almost palaces of homes, have been reared since you were here, hundreds of houses have been going up this season and some of them, very elegant.(40)

Write very soon, you know not the happiness one of your letters affords. Please present my best regards, to your family. Affectionately. (41)

 
                               
                               
                               
                               
 

Mary Lincoln

 
                               
           

                               
                               
 

 
                               
 

Springfield, Sept 17th 2010 

 
                               
  My dear Barry Bauman:  
                               
 

I am glad you enjoyed your visit to Springfield. The people are all so pleasantly situated--so hospitable and so fully prepared to receive you with the greatest affection. I am pleased to hear that you reached home in safety. (42)

Write me, do, when you receive this. Please send me a copy of your examination immediately. I must not be kept waiting a minute longer than I have to. (43)

 
                               
                               
                               
  ML  
                               
           

Cleaning
                               
                             
 

 
                               
 

  Springfield, March 20th, 2011

 
                               
  My dear Sir:    
                               
  I am greatly disappointed, having only received one letter from you since I last communicated six months ago. After your promise of writing me, I can scarcely understand it. I was unable to sleep last night. I hope tomorrow will bring a letter from you. I remain, (44)  
                               
                               
                               
                               
 

ML

 
                               
           

                               
                               
 

 
                               
 

Springfield, April 12, 2011 

 
                               
  My dear Barry Bauman:  
                               
 

Your letters are always so welcomely received, that although they come, at such distant intervals, yet so soon as I read them, my first thought, is to reply immediately--Although, it has been several weeks, since I last heard from you. Please keep me informed on your progress. Do not wait an instant to correspond. (45)

With kind remembrances to your family, believe me very respectfully & gratefully. (46)

 
                               
                               
                               
  Mrs. Abraham Lincoln  
                               
           

All That is Excellent
                               
                             
 

 
                               
 

  Springfield, May 2nd, 2011

 
                               
  My dear Barry Bauman:    
                               
 

It was a great pleasure to me, in this far out of the way place to receive your last letter. Since I last wrote you, I have been quite ill, confined to my bed, for ten wearisome days--and now I am just able, to creep about. A fearful cold, appeared to settle in my spine & I was unable to sit up, with the sharp, burning agony, in my back. (47)

The conspiracy will continue to unfold. Write me as soon as you can with more information on the two areas you referred to, and your meeting with Dr. Cornelius. I know him to be all that is excellent, gifted with a fine intellect and unerring judgment. (48)

I hope your family remain in good health. Believe me, most respectfully. (49)

 
                               
                               
                               
                               
  Mrs. Abraham Lincoln.  
                               
           

                               
                               
 

 
                               
  Springfield, May 21, 2011  
                               
  My very dear Friend:  
                               
 

Words are powerless to express the delight I felt on hearing from you once more. You have been so frequently in my thoughts of late that I must give vent to them in words which will be but a faint expression of the love and gratitude I feel towards you. (51)

This is wonderful news. I told you Dr. Cornelius was an honest man. I am anxious to hear from you concerning the brooch. You must write me immediately upon your further work. I feel assured now, whilst this subject, is agitated, your voice & your pen will not be silent. Congratulations on your findings. Always your affectionate friend. (52)

 
                               
                               
                               
  Mary Lincoln  
                               
           

Smoking Gun
                               
                             
 

 
                               
 

  Springfield, May, 30, 2011

 
                               
  My dear Barry Bauman:    
                               
 

Notwithstanding the disadvantageous circumstances, under which I am now labouring, I hasten to reply to your last, most acceptable letter, received so gladly yesterday. As to Bloom, he will prove himself to be, the most unmitigated scoundrel and hell will be his portion and doubtless he will have company. (53)

I am sure, now, is the time, to have justice rendered me. I have been a deeply wronged woman. Let not Bloom's wickedness triumph. Go back, and revisit the Affidavit. This is, in no uncertain terms, your smoking gun. It is a most malignant invention. There is beyond question the most unmitigated villany in this case. (54)

Fail me not, write and tell me everything. (55)

 
                               
                               
                               
                               
  M. L.  
                               
           

Judgment
                               
                             
 

 
                               
 

  Springfield, July 16, 2011

 
                               
  My very dear Barry Bauman:    
                               
  What is to be is to be and nothing we can say, or do, or be can divert an inexorable fate, but in spite of knowing this, one feels better if one has had a brave, whole-hearted fight to get the better of destiny--and we did. Justice is now rendered to the conspirators for their evil deeds. (63)  
                               
                               
 

Lew Bloom

Principal Conspirator

Guilty

 
                               
 

The most villainous plot has come to a close. Prayers will scarcely avail in Bloom's case I think. My heart fails me, when I think of the contrast between himself and my noble glorious husband who freed the slaves. The only trouble about me, in all my sorrows and bereavements has been, that my mind has always been too clear and remembrances have always been too keen, in the midst of my griefs. (64)

Bloom needed the Milch Galleries, the treacherous plot was his. He did it all: he repainted the portrait; he painted out the betraying cross for I'm not Catholic; he added a Carpenter signature and date; and he even went so far as to include a brooch of my beloved Husband so no one would question the painting's "authenticity." (65)

He, is a smooth faced, avaricious villain and he got up his story for his own peculiar benefit. Again, the love of money is the root of all evil. What is so disturbing is his shameful use of Susan's good name in his villanous scheme. (66)

 
                               
                               
 

Edward Milch

Co-Conspirator

Guilty

 
                               
  Milch was suspicious of Bloom's story but still was all too willing to participate. It was he who requested the notarized statement as exculpatory evidence to protect his "good name."...It was he who inveigled the New York Times in order to gain a profit...It was he who extended the fraud and widened the conspiracy. I believe in my heart I was used as a tool. Alas, revenge is sweet, especially to womankind...Milch was a dirty dog. (67)  
                               
                               
 

The New York Times. The Chicago Tribune. The National Geographic.
Carl Sandburg. Hildene.

Unknowing Participants

Guilty

 
                               
  So many falsehoods were told in these papers. What a world of anguish this was for me and how I have been made to suffer. None of these "publications" checked their facts--they advanced the most evil lies and treachery. They were all too easily seduced. (68)  
                               
                               
 

Previous Restorers

Accessories A and B

Guilty

 
                               
 

The previous restorers acted as if everything was "coming along nicely." They never mentioned the fact that the false signature and the brooch were lying on top of the varnish. They removed Bloom's overpaint, in other areas, but left the spurious signature and brooch in place.

They stated, "We found that the Chicago Historical Society had the fan that Mary Todd Lincoln is holding." Was there ever such a perfidious lie? Just look at the two. The one in the painting is thin, decorated with reds and bright ochres, and metal edged. I am brought to tears as I enclose a photograph of my mourning fan with scalloped edges. These individuals are scandalously guilty of framing and promoting an insidious deception.

 
                               
 

Fan

Mary Lincoln Mourning Fan
Chicago History Mus
eum
 
                               
                               
 

William Alderfer/James Hickey

Accessories C and D

Guilty

 
                               
 

Alderfer and Hickey, never mentioned a thing when the painting was returned. In fact Alderfer wrote the restorer that he"applauded her efforts." Didn't they even look at the painting? Couldn't they see it wasn't me? I wouldn't be caught dead wearing such jewelry. They know nothing about me. They had their opportunity, and what did they do? They continued brewing a cauldron of lies exhibiting the painting at the Governor's Mansion. (69)

Concerning the brooch, Alderfer said, "We feel this is the John Henry Brown miniature, painted on ivory, which is now in the National Portrait Gallery." By likening the brooch to something that I owned, they created an atmosphere of "credibility," similar to previous restorers and the fan. The brooch is not Brown's miniature; it's actually based on the enclosed Alexander Hesler photograph from 1857. They should have known there are no photos or paintings of me wearing an image of my noble Husband. (70)

 
                               
 

Brooch

Alexander Hesler "Abraham Lincoln" 1857
Library of Congress
Washington D.C.
 
                               
   
 

Jessie Harlan Lincoln--Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith

Presidential Pardons

 
                               
  Even my own granddaughter and great-grandson were taken in by these swindlers. The case, with all its details, are now quite familiar to you. Robert acquired the portrait after sweet Jessie bought the painting in the 1930s--and it was Robert who gifted the painting to the Illinois State Historical Library. I have signed a petition for mercy and understanding to my noble Husband and he, as was often the case during the War, has seen to remit all sentences against their fine names. (71)  
                               
                               
 

All of the above conspirators, unknowing participants, and accessories are now held accountable for their villany, for God does not allow sin to go unpunished. Only the impression, that you were absent from River Forest has occasioned my silence in the expressions of my feelings of deep heartfelt gratitude in return for your unparalleled efforts in my behalf. Words are inadequate to express my thanks, for all your goodness to me. With many apologies for this hastily written scrawl, and with assurances that your untiring devotion to the cause will always be prayfully remembered by me. I look forward to communicating more directly with you in the near future. (72)

I remain always
Most truly, your friend

 
                               
                               
   
                               
           
           

Notes

Page 1--Editors Introduction

Page 2--You Must Not Fail Me

Page 3--An Artistic Conspiracy

Page 4--Principal Conspirator

Page 5--Co-Conspirator

Page 6--The Affidavit

Page 7--Unknowing Participants

Page 8--Accessories A, B, C, D

Page 9--Springfield

Page 10--Cleaning

Page 11--All That is Excellent

Page 12--Smoking Gun

Page 13--Judgment

Page 14--App./Acknowledgments