The Lincolns in the White House Four Years That Shattered a Family

Jerrold M. Packard

St. Martin's Griffin



Trade Paperback

304 Pages


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From the day of Abraham Lincoln's inauguration, a nation divided by savage conflict confronted the new president. As commander-in-chief for the next four years, he would preside over this war, one that killed more than 600,000 men and left incalculable American families without fathers, sons, and brothers. But what many do not know was that within the White House's walls, the Lincoln's family would soon find itself suffering turmoil mirroring that of the nation he led.

Savagely criticized for her extravagance by the American public and widely distrusted because of her southern roots, first lady Mary Lincoln's increasing instability would deeply strain her marriage and eventually end in her mental collapse. The couple was devastated when eleven-year-old Willie died in the White House of typhoid fever. Tad, the youngest son, remained the family joy despite his physical impairments. Though their son Robert's success at Harvard made his parents proud, his relationship with them was troubled; in later years he would become permanently estranged from his mother. The president's assassination brutally crushed Mary's always-fragile spirits. After leaving the White House and following Tad's early death, the former first lady retreated into increasing eccentricity and seclusion until her death in 1882.  With his research and an eye for historical detail, Jerrold M. Packard takes readers behind the scenes of one of America's most tormented first families. The Lincolns in the White House is a portrait of the family life of one of America's greatest presidents.


Praise for The Lincolns in the White House

"Readable, well organized, well researched, and smoothly written . . . Even those who know Lincoln well may learn something they did not know before."—The Washington Post Book World
"Registering external events as they intruded on the Lincoln household's affairs, Packard succeeds in this realistic and sympathetic rendering of the family's private and emotional life."—Booklist

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Jerrold Packard is the author of the best-selling Victoria's Daughters, and most recently American Nightmare. Mr. Packard lives in Vermont.
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  • Jerrold M. Packard

  • Jerrold Packard has written on a wide range of historical subjects. His books include Sons of Heaven, a history of the Japanese monarchy; Neither Friend Nor Foe, the story of the European neutral states in World War II; Farewell in Splendor, about Queen Victoria's last days and her death; and American Nightmare, which chronicles the century of Jim Crow in America. His Victoria's Daughters, a study of the lives of five royal women, was a national bestseller. Mr. Packard lives in Burlington, Vermount.