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The Insanity Retrial of Mary Todd Lincoln

The Insanity Retrial of Mary Todd Lincoln

Part courtroom drama, part medical inquiry, The Insanity Retrial of Mary Todd Lincoln brings the past into the present. In 1875, Robert Todd Lincoln, son of the late President Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd Lincoln, petitioned the court to commit his mother to an asylum on charges of insanity.

Hosted by Bill Kurtis, the trial is re-enacted with a modern-day judge, practicing attorneys, and mental health experts who use facts based on actual witness statements from the 1875 trial. They apply current Illinois law regarding mental health proceedings and current health treatment to the dramatic and heartbreaking story of the nation’s 16th first lady.

The program was videotaped at the Murphy Auditorium in Chicago in front of an audience – who serve as the jury.

Learn about the travails and tragedies of the former first lady and vote on whether the evidence presented is enough to involuntarily commit Mary Todd Lincoln for inpatient treatment of a mental illness.

Watch the show. Examine the evidence. Gain an understanding of the mental health of the former first lady. Decide for yourself.

What would you do?

Should Mary Todd Lincoln be involuntarily admitted for inpatient treatment of a mental illness?
Total votes: 119

Lincoln Family Photo Album

Robert Todd Lincoln was a veteran of the Civil War, a Chicago lawyer, U.S. Secretary of War from 1881-1885, and President of the Pullman Railroad.

Thomas “Tad” Lincoln. After his brother and father died in Washington D.C., Tad accompanied his mother to Europe. He died when he was 18.

Willie Lincoln. Willie was the 3rd son of President Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln. He died in the White House of typhoid fever. He was 11 years old.

President Abraham Lincoln

President Abraham Lincoln with his son Thomas “Tad” Lincoln.

Mary Todd Lincoln, and Thomas “Tad” Lincoln.

Mary Todd Lincoln. Many of her dresses were designed by her exclusive dressmaker Elizabeth Keckley, a freed slave. This photograph was taken by Matthew Brady, the most famous Civil War photographer.

Mary Todd Lincoln wore black almost exclusively after her husband was assassinated.

A sophisticated and educated woman, Mary Todd Lincoln was born in Lexington, Kentucky to a wealthy family