Ann Rutledge

Ann Rutledge

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Ann Rutledge was allegedly Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

's first love.


Born near Henderson, Kentucky
Henderson, Kentucky
Henderson is a city in Henderson County, Kentucky, United States, along the Ohio River in the western part of the state. The population was 27,952 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Evansville Metropolitan Area often referred to as "Kentuckiana", although "Tri-State Area" or "Tri-State" are more...

 Ann Mayes Rutledge was the third of ten children born to Mary and James Rutledge. In 1829, her father, along with John M. Cameron, founded New Salem, Illinois
New Salem (Menard County), Illinois
New Salem is the historically recreated townsite of Abraham Lincoln's, 19th century, frontier village in Menard County , Illinois, United States. During his 20s, in the 1830's, this was the homestead of the future U.S. President...

. Many of the facts of her life are lost to history, but many historians believe that she was the first true love of Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

. The exact nature of the Lincoln-Rutledge relationship has been fiercely debated by historians and non-historians for over a century. It is fairly well established the two were at least friends.

The story goes that Rutledge was engaged to marry John MacNamar, a dubious character who left for New York and promised to marry her upon his return. Rutledge and Lincoln met after this and supposedly fell in love while MacNamar was away and she promised to marry Lincoln after MacNamar released her. For a time Rutledge and MacNamar exchanged letters, but his letters became more formal and "less ardent in turn" and eventually ceased completely. MacNamar never returned before her death.

In 1835, a wave of typhoid hit the town of New Salem. Ann Rutledge died young at the age of 22 on August 25, 1835. This sad event left Lincoln severely depressed. Historian John Y. Simon reviewed the historiography of the subject and concluded, "Available evidence overwhelmingly indicates that Lincoln so loved Ann that her death plunged him into severe depression." An anonymous poem about suicide published locally exactly three years after her death is widely attributed to Lincoln.
Many years later, after his first election as President, Isaac Cogdal, Lincoln's old friend, ventured to ask whether it was true that Lincoln had fallen in love with Ann. "It is true- true indeed I did," Lincoln replied. "I loved the woman dearly and soundly: she was a handsome girl- would have made a good loving wife...I did honestly and truly love the girl and think often-often of her now."


Ann Mayes Rutledge was laid to rest in the Old Concord Burial Ground; however, the body was exhumed and then buried in the Oakland Cemetery in Petersburg, Illinois
Petersburg, Illinois
Petersburg is a city in Menard County, Illinois, on the bluffs and part of the floodplain overlooking the Sangamon River. It is part of the Springfield, Illinois Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 2,299 at the 2000 census, and 2,185 at a 2009 estimate. It is the county seat of Menard...

 when an undertaker became financially interested in the cemetery in 1890. At this time the cheap stone marker was replaced with a granite monument that included the lyrics of Edgar Lee Masters
Edgar Lee Masters
Edgar Lee Masters was an American poet, biographer, and dramatist...

 and reads:

Herndon's statement

After Lincoln's assassination in 1865, his friend and law partner William Herndon
William Herndon (lawyer)
William Henry Herndon was the law partner and biographer of Abraham Lincoln.-Biography:Born in Greensburg, Kentucky, Herndon and his family moved to Illinois in 1820, and they settled in Springfield when he was five. Herndon attended Illinois College from 1836-1837. In 1840 he married Mary J....

 first revealed the story of the supposed romance between Rutledge and Lincoln, much to Mary Todd Lincoln
Mary Todd Lincoln
Mary Ann Lincoln was the wife of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, and was First Lady of the United States from 1861 to 1865.-Life before the White House:...

's anger and dismay. However, Herndon despised Mary Todd Lincoln and may have fabricated or enhanced the story of a romance between Ann Rutledge and Abraham Lincoln to serve as a "thorn in the side" of Mary Todd Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln's surviving son Robert Todd Lincoln
Robert Todd Lincoln
Robert Todd Lincoln was an American lawyer and Secretary of War, and the first son of President Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln...

 was also upset by Herndon's claim. Most of Herndon's sources came from interviews with Lincoln's early friends in New Salem and Ann's relatives. The story was later repeated by Herndon in several lectures and books.

Historical criticism of alleged Lincoln-Rutledge relationship

Several historians have claimed that the evidence of a love affair between Lincoln and Rutledge is tenuous at best. In his Lincoln the President, historian James G. Randall
James G. Randall
James G. Randall was an American historian, specializing on Abraham Lincoln and the era of the American Civil War. He taught at the University of Illinois, , where David Herbert Donald was one of his students and continued his traditions. Born in Indiana, he took a B.A. degree from Butler College...

 wrote a chapter entitled "Sifting the Ann Rutledge Evidence" which cast doubt on the nature of her and Lincoln's relationship.

Lewis Gannett
Lewis Gannett
Lewis Gannett is an American writer.Gannett is the author of the books The Living One, Magazine Beach, The Siege, as well as two Millennium novels: Gehenna and Force Majeure.-External links:*...

, writing in the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, claims that "Nearly sixty years after James G. Randall delivered a seeming coup de grâce to the Ann Rutledge legend, the legend may be nearing a second death."
According to revisionist
Historical revisionism
In historiography, historical revisionism is the reinterpretation of orthodox views on evidence, motivations, and decision-making processes surrounding a historical event...

 historian Clyde Wilson, there is "no evidence whatsoever for the Ann Rutledge story."

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