One hundred seventy years ago, Mary Todd married Abraham Lincoln, November 4, 1842.

Mary Todd weds Abraham Lincoln

Thus, Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd were married at the Edwards’ home on Friday evening, November 4, 1842. About 30 relatives and friends, all hastily invited, attended the ceremony which was conducted by Reverend Dresser who was wearing canonical robes. Mary wore a lovely white muslin dress. She wore neither a veil nor flowers in her hair.

Mary’s bridesmaids were Julia M. Jayne (in 1843 she married Lyman Trumbull who later became a U.S. Senator), Anna Caesaria Rodney, and Miss Elizabeth Todd. Abraham’s best man was James Harvey Matheny, 24, who was a close friend and worked at the circuit court office in Springfield. Matheny was asked by Lincoln to be best man on the day of the wedding!

Reverend Dresser used “The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony” from a book entitled The Book of Common Prayer According to the Use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States(Philadelphia, Carey & Hart, 1836). Standing behind Abraham during the ceremony was heavyset Judge Thomas C. Browne of the Illinois Supreme Court. Browne was a blunt man not accustomed to weddings. As Abraham was putting the wedding ring on Mary’s hand and repeating the words, “With this ring I thee endow with all my goods, chattels, lands, and tenements,” Browne impatiently blurted out, “God Almighty, Lincoln, the statute fixes all that.” After a brief delay following Browne’s interruption, the ceremony was completed as rain poured outside. Judge Browne was once impeached for feeblemindedness after a hearing in the Springfield courthouse.

A week after the marriage, on November 11, 1842, Abraham wrote a letter to a friend, Samuel D. Marshall. Most of the letter dealt with legal matters, but Abraham closed the letter with the following sentence: “Nothing new here, except my marrying, which to me, is a matter of profound wonder.”

The Day Miss Todd became Mrs. Lincoln

…Love Is Eternal…

The night of their marriage, Abraham Lincoln slipped on to Mary Todd’s finger an Etruscan gold wedding band.  Inside the ring, the words, Love is eternal, were engraved.

When historians refer to the wedding ring that Abraham Lincoln gave to Mary on November 4, 1842, they usually claim that the inscription read “Love is eternal.”  However, according to the Chicago Tribune edition of July 18, 1882, there were more than three words engraved.

Prior to her death, Mary removed her wedding ring from her finger.  On July 16, 1882, in her sister Elizabeth Edwards’ house, the same house where she had married Abraham Lincoln forty years before, she passed away.  The following day, some of Elizabeth’s friends found the ring and discovered that the inscription read, “A.L. to Mary, Nov. 4, 1842. Love is Eternal.”  The ring was subsequently placed on Mary’s finger, where it had been for forty years, and was buried with her remains in Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, Illinois.

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