Lead: Already the subject of much public abuse, Mary Lincoln began to come unglued with the death of the couple’s young son, William.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: Not until Eleanor Roosevelt did a First Lady have to endure the carping of critics as did Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of the 16th President of the United States. She was vilified as being generous, stingy, energetic, retiring, patriotic and treasonous, all at the same time. But it was the death of her middle son, Willie, which set Mary Lincoln on the path to emotional disintegration. Willie contracted typhoid fever, and died in February 1862. Both of the Lincolns were shattered, but Mary seemed close to mental collapse. She had convulsions, stayed in bed for days, and began attending séances in hopes of making contact with him.