Narrator: Late one August evening in 1864, Abraham Lincoln was riding from the White House to the Soldiers Home where he and Mary were spending their third summer. Lincoln was still convinced he was going to be defeated in the presidential election, now just weeks away.

Someone had fired a shot, Lincoln told his wife, but it must have been an accident -- maybe some hunter emptying his gun before going home.

Voice of Mary (Holly Hunter): "Mr. Lincoln's life is always exposed. No one knows what it is to live in constant dread of some fearful tragedy. The President has been warned so often, that I tremble for him I have a presentiment that he will meet with a sudden and violent end."

Slate: Part Six: Blind with Weeping

Narrator: In spite of the war, the presidential campaign of 1864 went ahead with all the usual excitement.

Mark E. Neely Jr., Historian: It's a full-blown American political campaign complete with barbecues, fireworks, parades. It looked almost like the nation hadn't fallen apart.

Narrator: With the survival of the nation still in the balance, Lincoln's faith in democracy remained unshaken.

Voice of Lincoln (David Morse): "It's the people's business -- the election is in their hands. If they turn their backs to the fire and get scorched in the rear, they'll find they've got to sit on the blisters."

Narrator: Lincoln believed that the people would vote against him unless his army began to win clear-cut victories. Then on September 2, 1864, he got a message from William Tecumseh Sherman. It would turn the election around. "Atlanta is ours and fairly won," it said.

David E. Long, Historian: Everybody sees the fall of Atlanta as signaling that the Confederacy is dying. People can see that the war is winding down, and if they will simply stay the course a little bit longer, that victory will be had.

Narrator: Election Day -- November 8. That evening while Mary Lincoln waited nervously inside the White House, Lincoln and his secretaries splashed across to the War Department to follow the returns. The first results gave Lincoln Philadelphia and Baltimore. Lincoln asked that the encouraging news be sent over to Mrs. Lincoln. "She," he said, "is more anxious than I."

As more and more good news rattled in, Lincoln and a few friends settled into a quiet, celebratory supper. "The President," his secretary remembered, "went awkwardly and hospitably to work, shoveling out the fried oysters."

Lincoln carried every state but three and won a popular majority of nearly half a million votes. Four years earlier, Lincoln had been little known and often laughed at. Now, with a clear mandate to fight on to victory, he resolved to fight another battle as well.

The Emancipation Proclamation had freed only those slaves living in rebel territory. Lincoln wanted an amendment to the Constitution banning slavery forever from every part of the United States.

Voice of Lincoln (David Morse): "If Negroes stake their lives for us, they must be prompted by the strongest motive -- even the promise of freedom. There have been men who have proposed to me to return to slavery the black warriors of Port Hudson. I should be dammed in time and eternity for so doing. The world shall know that I will keep my faith to friends and enemies, come what will."

Narrator: Lincoln was determined that Congress pass the amendment before Inauguration Day as a symbol of National Unity. He was certain of victory in the Senate, but first he needed a two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives.

David Herbert Donald, Biographer: Lincoln puts all the powers of his office and of his recent re-election behind this amendment. He called Congressmen into the White House, and then he began arm-twisting.

David E. Long, Historian: Probably promising some kind of Federal Patronage position, Postmastership, Customs Office.

David Herbert Donald, Biographer: Basically what he did was to work the Congressmen one by one by one until he got enough of a majority, and then he persuaded even some Democrats to say, "Look, this is going to be done next year if not this. Let's get on with it."

David E. Long, Historian: By three votes, the two-thirds majority is achieved. And the House chamber just breaks into a wild celebration.

James M. McPherson, Historian: Congressmen got up and cheered. The Galleries cheered with, by the way, blacks in the Congressional galleries for the first time. It was one of the greatest occasions in the history of Congress, and the House, in honor of what they called "this great historic occasion," voted to take the rest of the day off.

Narrator: The 13th Amendment pronounced a death sentence for slavery. Ratification by three quarters of the States seemed assured. The President was so pleased he insisted on signing the resolution -- even though his signature was not legally required.

Voice of Lincoln (David Morse): "The great job is ended. I... congratulate myself, the country, and the whole world upon this great moral victory."

Margaret Washington, Historian: For all of the hedging that he did about the Emancipation Proclamation, about black troops, it's ultimately Lincoln's skill and Lincoln's commitment that leads to the 13th Amendment.

Narrator: That night, a White House servant remembered, the President slept as he had not slept in months.

With the fall of Atlanta, the nature of the war changed. Sherman began burning homes and destroying crops as he marched through Georgia toward Savannah and the sea.

Donald L. Miller, Historian: It became a very different kind of war. War against civilians and not just soldiers. War waged on Southern farms, take from them what they have and feed your own troops with it, but what you can't take, burn and destroy.

Lincoln comes to the view that this is the only way the South can be conquered. He saw very clearly that we can't conquer the minds of these people. And the only thing we can do is make war so terrible, that they'll eventually give up.

Narrator: While Sherman cut a path through Georgia, General Phillip Sheridan stormed through Virginia's fertile Shenandoah Valley, plundering farms, torching barns, tearing up rail lines. At the same time, Northern troops began to come upon Union prisoners of war, many in desperate condition because the rebels had run out of food to feed them. Lincoln himself carried a photograph of one of them, ready to show it to anyone who objected to the harsh treatment his commanders were now meeting out to the South.

As the suffering continued, Lincoln read and re-read the tragedies of Shakespeare and turned to the Bible.

David Herbert Donald, Biographer: He had a Bible on his desk at all times. He knew it almost by heart, and during these terrible months, he read the Bible more carefully, more frequently than ever.

Margaret Washington, Historian: On one occasion Elizabeth Keckley saw him reading the Bible. And she found an excuse to go behind the sofa and to see what he was reading, and he was reading Job.

Narrator: Inauguration Day, March 4, 1865. All the bloodshed, all the agony -- Lincoln turned them over and over in his mind. At Gettysburg he had given the fighting a higher purpose. Now, in his Second Inaugural Address, he would try to find an explanation for the last four years of pain and suffering.

Charles B. Strozier, Historian: Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, was personally meaningful for him because it matters to him to explain things -- it matters to find the right words. But it also mattered for the country, this is why we had a war.

As Lincoln began to speak, the sun broke through the clouds.

Voice of Lincoln (David Morse): "Four years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it -- all sought to avert it. And the war came."

Narrator: Victory seemed close now, and he might have been expected to exult. Instead, he questioned:

Voice of Lincoln (David Morse): "Both sides read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes."

Margaret Washington, Historian: Lincoln felt that God had given both the North and the South this bloody retribution for the sins of the Nation. The sin of the Nation was 250 years of enslavement of African Americans. And God was punishing them for this.

Voice of Lincoln (David Morse): "Fondly do we hope -- fervently do we pray -- that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's 250 years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said 3,000 years ago, so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.'"

David Herbert Donald, Biographer: It is the Old Testament of a just and righteous God who wreaks on his enemies what they deserve. And this, in some sense, Lincoln found very consoling. "If this is what God wills, it is not just what I, Abraham Lincoln, willed. I am carrying out His wishes in seeing that this war is prosecuted to a very bitter end."

Margaret Washington, Historian: You always got the sense with Lincoln that he was wrestling with his own guilt -- that he was wrestling with death.

David E. Long, Historian: The death, the destruction, the apocalyptic nature of this war, is incomprehensible. He has to turn this over to God. When God wills that it ends, it will end and not until then. The Second Inaugural Address is a spiritual thing, but it is also a call for unity. "We are almost there. We are almost there. You know, God has brought us this far. Stay the course and when we're done, let us not exact recriminations on one another."

Narrator: The Union remained sacred to Lincoln. He wanted once again to make it whole -- to bring the South back. But he knew it would not be easy. Four years of bloody war had left many Northerners raw with anger, bitter and vengeful.

Even his own wife spoke privately of revenge. Mary Lincoln could not forgive the South for starting a war that had fractured the Union, turned her own brothers into her enemies, and threatened to overwhelm her husband.

Doris Kearns Goodwin, Historian: Mary wants to somehow make up for all that she has lost. And the only way to do that is to punish the South. She can't see what Lincoln has come to. She's taken a different path during the war than he has, and they both come out, sadly, in very different places.

Voice of Lincoln (David Morse): "With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan -- to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."

Narrator: As Lincoln finished his speech, he looked out over the enormous crowd. Standing alongside whites were African Americans, who had by now come to see the President as something like a savior.

John Hope Franklin, Historian: Lincoln must have been touched as he looked out to see the large number of blacks watching, listening, honoring him. Those were his constituents, you see, just as others were there as his constituents. And I think that by this time, having gone through what he went through, I'm not certain at all that he was making a great distinction between this group of constituents and the other.

Narrator: That evening, at the Inaugural Reception, police tried to bar the way of a black man who insisted on being admitted. Lincoln told them to let the man pass. Frederick Douglass was the first African-American ever to attend an Inaugural Reception, and the President greeted him warmly. What had he thought of the speech? "Mr. Lincoln," Douglass replied. "That was a sacred effort."

On March 23, the Lincolns boarded the River Queen at Washington and set out for Grant's headquarters at City Point, Virginia -- just 20 miles from the Confederate capital. The President was worn out, but he wanted to visit the army that now seemed so close to victory. Mary insisted on going too. She needed to be near him. She lived in fear, she wrote a friend, that "the deep waters through which we have passed will overwhelm me."

Three days later, Mary and Mrs. Grant were scheduled to join their husbands at a Grand Review of the Union army. As their carriage bumped slowly along deeply rutted roads, jolting the two women, Mary grew more and more agitated. Her pent-up anxieties and closely guarded fears were about to explode for all the world to see. By the time Mary reached the parade ground, her husband was already riding down the line of troops.

Mrs. Edward Ord, the Commanding General's wife was at his side -- in Mary's place. Mary erupted in fury, loudly accusing the innocent woman of flirting with her husband. Mrs. Ord burst into tears.

Doris Kearns Goodwin, Historian: There was not the slightest hint that the President was flirting with Mrs. Ord. It is true however that Mary worried about flirtations, even when they didn't exist.

Linda Levitt Turner, Biographer: Mary was an incorrigible flirt and I think she projected her own tendencies, which were just to make her feel better, make her feel younger, perfectly innocent, but she projected those fantasies in dead seriousness onto other women.

Narrator: Then Mary shouted at the President himself, demanding that he remove the woman's husband from his command. Mrs. Grant tried to restrain her, but Mary was out of control.

Linda Levitt Turner, Biographer: It was the first really open public display of their differences that they had ever permitted themselves since he became President.

Narrator: At dinner on board the steamer that evening, Mary resumed her tirade. Embarrassed guests tried not to look.

"Lincoln bore it," one remembered, "as Christ might have done, with an expression of pain and sadness that cut one to the heart, but with supreme calmness and dignity. He called her 'Mother,' with his old-time plainness... 'til she turned on him like a tigress; and then he walked away, hiding that noble, ugly face that we might not catch the full expression of his misery."

The Lincolns stayed on at City Point while the President conferred with his commanders. He ordered Grant and Sherman not to let the rebels get away this time. But he also urged them to offer the most generous terms of surrender:

Voice of Lincoln (David Morse): "Let them all go, officers and all, I want submission and no more bloodshed.... I want no one punished.... We want those people to return to their allegiance to the Union."

Narrator: After her humiliating outburst, Mary Lincoln did not leave her cabin for three days. The President explained she wasn't feeling well, then he sent her home to Washington. She later claimed her husband had had a dream that the White House had burned down and had asked her to go and see if it were true.

Lincoln remained behind. He did not want to miss the all-out attack on Petersburg that was about to begin. He hoped it would be the final battle of the war.

On April 2, at 4:20 in the morning, while Lincoln watched and listened from City Point, Grant hurled his army against the Confederate trenches. The rebel lines broke. Among the dead left behind were boys as young as 14. Richmond now lay undefended, and Union troops marched into the city. Lee headed west with what was left of his army, but this time, the Federals were right behind him.

The next day, Lincoln was in high spirits as he and his son Tad headed up the James River to Richmond. He could not resist having a look at what had once been the capital of the Confederacy.

David Herbert Donald, Biographer: It's a kind of a funny expedition. They start on a real ship, and then it has to be diverted. So then they put him on a tugboat and that pulls him a little further, and something happens to it, and so they put him on a little row boat and row him into Richmond. He tells a friend that "I'm reminded of a story from my patronage days of the man who came to me and said, 'I want to be Secretary of State,' and I said, 'I'm sorry. That job's already taken.' 'Well,' he said, 'you could make me Ambassador to England.' 'No. That job's already taken.' 'Well,' said, 'you could make me Consul to France.' 'No. That job's already taken.' 'Well,' said the man, 'you could at least give me a pair of old used trousers.' "It pays to be humble," said Lincoln in his rowboat as he arrives in Richmond.

Narrator: Much of the Confederate capital lay in ruins, destroyed by retreating rebels and looted by hungry mobs. As Lincoln made his way through the smoky streets, hundreds of former slaves surrounded him. Some knelt at his feet. Lincoln was embarrassed. "Don't kneel to me," he said. "You must kneel to God only and thank Him for your liberty."

While Tad waited outside, Lincoln entered the abandoned official residence of Jefferson Davis.

David Herbert Donald, Biographer: For a time he sits in Jefferson Davis' chair. And he sees finally total victory within his command. This was the triumphanal scene of his life.

Narrator: Five days later, on the evening of April 9, his Secretary of War brought him the telegram he had been waiting for. "General Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia this morning," it read. Four years of civil war had ended.

Voice of Mary (Holly Hunter): "The crowds around the house have been immense; in the midst of the bands playing, they break forth into singing. If the close of that terrible war has left some of our hearthstones very, very desolate, God, has been as ever kind and merciful in the midst of our heavy afflictions."

David Herbert Donald, Biographer: It's a day of tremendous rejoicing, there are barn fires, there are fireworks, there are rallies, there are songs, and people crowd up to the White House and they want to congratulate the President.

A mighty cheer went up when Lincoln appeared. Surprising everyone, he called upon the marine band to play the unofficial anthem of the Confederacy while Tad frantically waved a captured rebel flag from an upstairs window.

Voice of Lincoln (David Morse): "I have always thought 'Dixie' one of the best tunes I have ever heard. Our adversaries over the way attempted to appropriate it. I presented the question to the Attorney General, and he gave it, as his legal opinion, that it is our lawful prize."

Narrator: The next evening, a happy crowd gathered on the White House grounds. With Mary watching from a nearby window, Lincoln stepped forward to speak. Illuminated by a single flickering candle, his face was pale, Elizabeth Keckley recalled, but his "soul was flashing through his eyes." As Tad knelt out of sight at his father's feet to catch each page of the speech, Lincoln began to read:

Voice of Lincoln (David Morse): "Reuniting our country is fraught with great difficulty. Unlike the case of a war between independent nations, there is no authorized organized organ for us to treat with. No one man has authority to give up the rebellion for any other man... and we, the loyal people, differ among ourselves as to the mode, manner, and means of reconstruction."

David Herbert Donald, Biographer: It's not what the crowd wanted. They wanted a celebration of how great we are, what wonderful things had happened, how everything was going to be happy from now on out. Instead, Lincoln gives them a carefully reasoned speech about reconstruction, of "How we're going to rebuild this Union."

Narrator: With the North deeply divided as to how to reunite the country and how the former slaves were to be treated, Lincoln wanted to steer a cautious course.

James M. McPherson, Historian: He practices the art of the possible. Just as he had moved step by step on emancipation, that's what he was doing, I think, on reconstruction and on the question that became central to reconstruction -- what was then called Negro Suffrage.

Narrator: Lincoln told the crowd that he favored giving the vote to some freedmen -- "the very intelligent," he said, "and those who serve our cause as soldiers." No other President had ever dared suggest that any African Americans be allowed to vote.

David Herbert Donald, Biographer: He thought that blacks would become a kind of comfortable farming class in the South that could get along in a reconstruction southern society. Their future would depend on themselves and their own exertions. And you have to remember that he thought, "After all, I, Abraham Lincoln, have been a self-made man. These blacks can become self-made men, too."

Narrator: Listening in the crowd that evening was a young Confederate sympathizer who believed fervently that America "was formed for the white, not for the black man."

"Lincoln's talking 'nigger citizenship'," he muttered to a companion. "That is the last speech he will ever make." John Wilkes Booth was a well-known actor. Lincoln had admired his performance in Shakespeare's Richard III and once said he would like to meet him.

Two nights later, Lincoln had a dream. He seemed, he said later, "to be in some singular, indescribable vessel... moving with great rapidity towards an indefinite shore." It was a familiar dream -- he had had it before the great victories at Antietam and Gettysburg. "Always," he said, "it meant good news."

The next afternoon, April 14, was Good Friday, and Mary and Abraham Lincoln went for a carriage ride. The war was over. At last, the weary couple could relax, and rejoice.

Linda Levitt Turner, Biographer: They sat and talked about the future and Lincoln said, "Between the loss of our darling Willy and the war, we have both been very miserable. We have to be more cheerful." And all of the misery was going to go away and they would be happy again.

Narrator: "Dear husband," Mary told him, "you almost startle me by your great cheerfulness."

Linda Levitt Turner, Biographer: And she felt wonderful after this carriage ride and that happiness, that pleasure that all the horror was over was with them the night they went to the theater.

Narrator: That evening, the Lincolns attended Ford's Theater with a young major named Henry Rathbone and his fiancée, Clara Harris. The play was a knock-about farce called "Our American Cousin."

Actor (voice over): "Don't know the manners of good society, eh? Well I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, you sockdoligizing old-man-trap."

Narrator: The President seemed to enjoy it. Mary nestled against her husband.

Voice of Mary (Holly Hunter): "What will Miss Harris think of my hanging on to you so?"

Voice of Lincoln (David Morse): "She won't think anything about it."

Narrator: As Lincoln fell forward Mary screamed. John Wilkes Booth had shot the President of the United States.

The unconscious President was carried across Tenth Street into a rooming house. Mary sat by his bedside, imploring him to answer her, to take her with him, not to leave her alone. At 7:22 on the morning of April 15, 1865, Abraham Lincoln died. Others would now have to try to bind up the nation's wounds.

Lincoln's body rested in the East Room, where the Lincolns had so often received their guests. Mary remained upstairs in her bedroom, unable to see anyone, unable to attend her husband's funeral, inconsolable. Elizabeth Keckley stayed with her, listening helplessly to what she called "the unearthly shrieks, the terrible convulsions."

Linda Levitt Turner, Biographer: She was in a daze. She couldn't even speak. She couldn't even communicate. There was no getting close to her grief. Tad tried to comfort his mother, too, but her loud weeping frightened him. "Don't cry so Mama!" he begged her. "Don't cry or you will make me cry! You will break my heart."

On Wednesday, April 19, Lincoln's coffin was carried from the White House to the Capitol, past government buildings draped in black. It lay in state all night and all of the following day as long lines of citizens shuffled slowly by.

David E. Long, Historian: I don't think there's ever been such an outpouring of emotion in American history. Lincoln is shot within days after Lee's surrender. Victory is had, and the man who represents everything that that victory symbolizes is struck down.

Narrator: On April 21, Lincoln's final journey began. The mourning went on for 16 more days as his coffin was slowly borne home to Springfield along the same tracks that had carried him to Washington. Huge grieving crowds received the cortege in cities all across the country.

Doris Kearns Goodwin, Historian: One senses that the country understands that when he dies their anchor has been taken away. And they realize that something very special has passed out of their lives. And their reaction is extraordinary. So intensely felt, so deeply expressed.

Milburn Howard Jr., Knob Creek Farm: He was just a simple man with simple parents. And he made it all the way to the President of the United States.

David E. Long, Historian: He freed three and a half million people who had been born into permanent bondage.

Judge Frank J. Williams, Chair, the Lincoln Forum: He had an abundance of patience an iron strength of will and tenacity. He was the great hero who saved the union.

Narrator: A Brooklyn poet named Walt Whitman, who had often paused to watch as the President passed along the streets of Washington, captured the people's sorrow and his own:

"When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd,
And the great star early droop'd in the western sky in the night,
I mourn'd, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.
Here, coffin that slowly passes, I give you my sprig of lilac."

On May 3 the funeral train arrived in Springfield. The next day, at Oak Ridge Cemetery on the outskirts of town, Abraham Lincoln was laid to rest at last alongside his sons and Willy.

Mary Lincoln did not accompany her husband's funeral train to Springfield. She was unable to leave her room. For over a month, she remained there. Then heavily veiled and dressed in black, she left the White House for the last time.

"It was so unlike the day when the body of the President was borne from the hall in grand and solemn state," Elizabeth Keckley remembered. "Now, the wife of the President was leaving the White House, and there was scarcely a friend to tell her goodbye. The silence was almost painful."

That same day, the mighty Union army marched up Pennsylvania Avenue in celebration of its victory, while Mary Lincoln with her sons Robert and Tad boarded a train and headed for Illinois. Unable to face the memories that would have surrounded her in Springfield, she remained secluded in a Chicago hotel and gave herself over to grief.

Voice of Mary (Holly Hunter): "Day by day, I miss my beloved husband more and more. How I am to pass through life without him who loved us so dearly, it is impossible for me to say.... I must patiently await the hour when God's love shall place me by his side again. For I have almost become blind with weeping."

Linda Levitt Turner, Biographer: Her grief became her chief preoccupation. She reminded herself of it constantly. She would not let herself forget it. She would not let her friends forget it. She couldn't believe what had happened to her. Because, you must understand, that not only did she lose the man she truly loved, her great partner in life, but the man who had made her the First Lady of the land, the man who gave her status, the man who gave her importance, an identity.

Narrator: As Mary mourned, the life of the man she had loved was already becoming the stuff of myth and legend. No American President had ever been assassinated. And in a country in which 600,000 men had died in just four years, the death of this one man became transcendent. Lincoln was soon memorialized as a hero as great as George Washington himself.

Charles B. Strozier, Historian: Mary had to have basked in his reflective glory, and it had to have been part of what helped sustain her. But her life after his death is an unremitting series of pain and suffering and tragedy.

Narrator: For six years, Tad Lincoln was his mother's constant companion and only source of comfort as Mary moved restlessly from rented room to rented room. Then, in 1871, Tad contracted tuberculosis and died. He was only 18. Mary's fragile grip on reality finally slipped away.

She began to wander hotel corridors in her nightgown, was certain someone was trying to poison her, complained that an Indian spirit was removing wires from her eyes, and continued her frantic spending, purchasing yard after yard of elegant drapery when she had no windows in which to hang it. Then, on the evening of March 12, 1875, Mary Lincoln hurried into a Western Union office in Florida and sent a telegram to her only remaining son, Robert.

Voice of Mary (Holly Hunter): "My dearly beloved son Robert T. Lincoln rouse yourself -- and live for my sake. All I have is yours from this hour. I am praying every moment for your life to be spared to your mother."

Narrator: Carrying thousands of dollars in securities sewn into her dress, Mary hurried to Chicago to be at her son's side. She was convinced that he was dying.

But Robert was perfectly well. He was sadly accustomed to his mother's irrational behavior, but now he was convinced that she had lost her mind and went to court to have her committed. Mary was given no chance to prepare a defense. It took just three hours for the jury to find her "insane."

Charles B. Strozier, Historian: The question one asks about Mary is was she crazy? Was she a schizophrenic? You don't just develop schizophrenia in late middle age around the death of a child, but you can hallucinate and be psychotic without being schizophrenic. Her life was an unending series of losses, and at a certain point she broke.

Narrator: Mary found the verdict so painful she tried to kill herself by swallowing poison.

She was committed to Bellevue Place, a private sanitarium for disturbed but well-to-do women in Batavia, Illinois, where she was a model patient. After three months, she was released.

Charles B. Strozier, Historian: She was well treated, she was listened to. She could calm herself sufficiently to return to being fragile and troubled, but not being psychotic. But she turned on her son, Robert, the man who had committed her.

Mary Genevieve Murphy, Todd Family Friend: She felt indignant and infuriated. She just couldn't understand why he would do this to her. And she never really forgave him.

Mary Lincoln had lost everyone she ever really cared about: Willy, her husband, Tad, all taken from her. And Robert, her last surviving son, she now wrote out of her life. Mary Lincoln lived for six more years, wandering aimlessly from city to city.

In 1882, tired and ill, she returned to her sister's home in Springfield, and was given her old bedroom above the parlor in which she had married Abraham Lincoln 40 years before. She was 64, nearly blind now and partially paralyzed from a fall. She was careful to sleep on one side of the bed, she said, because she wanted to leave a place for her husband.

Voice of Mary (Holly Hunter): "Time does not soften my grief, nor can I ever be reconciled to my loss, until the grave closes over the remembrance, and I am again reunited with him."

Narrator: At 8:15 on the night of July 15, 1882, Mary Todd Lincoln died. After 17 years of waiting, she could at last rest in peace alongside her sons and her husband.

In the years that followed, Mary Lincoln was largely forgotten. Abraham Lincoln -- the frontier farmer's son, the prairie lawyer, the shrewd politician and stern commander-in-chief became America's secular saint.

His home in Springfield became something like a shrine. And it became hard to believe that a real flesh-and-blood couple once lived here, raised their sons, quarreled, mourned... and loved one another.

My American Experience

My American Experience photos

Share Your Story

Of America's first 25 presidents, who is your favorite? From George Washington to William McKinley, which of the new country's leaders most helped shape America in its first century of existence?