- She worked as a volunteer nurse during the Civil War.
- Mary Lincoln was the first ‘first lady’ to invite African Americans to the White House as guests.
- She was a staunch advocate of the abolition movement, perhaps partially inspired by the fact that her grandmother ran a safehouse on the Underground Railroad and Mary had helped her in her youth.
- She took care to clean and fix-up the White House, even getting in trouble for spending too much money on interior design.
- Mary sparked some controversy during President Lincoln’s term and after his assassination for her alleged tantrum-like behavior. Her son, Robert Todd Lincoln, even went to the extreme of asking a court to determine his mother’s sanity in 1875, leading to her admission to Bellevue Place, a private mental institution in Batavia, IL, just west of Chicago. Mary, with the help of her older sister and the first woman to be admitted to the bar in Illinois, Myra Bradwell, requested a new hearing, leading to Mary’s release from Bellevue in September 1875.