Friday, January 6, 2017


JFK+50:  Volume 7, No. 2181


Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) JFK+50 begins the year 2017 with a review of "Jackie" starring Natalie Portman.  "Jackie" is a Fox Searchlight Pictures film directed by Pablo Larrain.

The screenplay was written by Noah Oppenheim.  Released on December 2, 2016, the movie has an "R" rating and lasts 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Moving forward in the film to a scene with Jackie in conversation with Nancy Tuckerman, Mary Gallagher, and Jackie's mother Janet.

Jackie says...

"Lincoln's widow* died destitute.  She moved back to Illinois (and) had to sell all her furniture.  She auctioned it off, piece by piece, just to keep a roof over her head."**

Nancy Tuckerman responds...

"That will never happen to you."

Jackie continues...

"The collectors we bought (the White House furniture) from....Bill (Walton) and I had to haggle for every sofa and every chair.  If I sell some of it back...maybe I can put Caroline and John through school."***

JFK+50 contacted James M. Cornelius, PhD., curator at the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum on the issue of Mary's financial status in the aftermath of her husband's death.

Dr. Cornelius says...

"In 1867, (Mrs. Lincoln) tried to sell loads of her clothing in New York to raise money (although) Robert Lincoln told her that his father left an estate of $100,000 ($3-$4 million today).  Mary was plenty comfortable although she had a $26,000 debt."

*Mary Todd Lincoln (1818-1882) was born in Lexington, KY.  She attended Madame Charlotte LeClere Mentelle's boarding school.  Most of her family were pro-Confederate during the Civil War. 

As First Lady, she made shopping expeditions to NYC and replaced broken furniture in the White House & refurbished its interior.  Mr. Lincoln was shocked at her spending, but her fear of poverty after his death had "little basis in reality."  She kept $57,000 worth of convertible government bonds in her nightgown.

MTL gave away everything connected with the President as she could not bear to be reminded of the past. Jackie Kennedy, who also saw her husband, as he was sitting beside her, shot in the head, could not bear to look at a photo or portrait of her husband's face.  MTL was judged insane in 1875 & was put in an asylum for several weeks. She was then determined to be sane & released.

**Although MTL left the White House with 50 to 60 boxes and "scores of trunks," only one piece of furniture, a small dressing stand used by Mr. Lincoln, was taken and that piece was replaced.

***Mrs. Kennedy makes it clear in her "Tour of the White House," that a law was passed during JFK's tenure, one that she supported, requiring all White House furnishings remain the property of the White House.  Prior to that law, an outgoing President & his family could "do whatever they wanted with it."

The law to which JK referred was a temporary one replaced by LBJ's Executive Order in 1964.  That EO created the Committee for the Preservation of the White House.


Dr. James M. Cornelius, Curator, The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield, Illinois.

"Jackie-Screenplay," by Script Pipeline,

"Mary Todd Lincoln,"

Mary Todd Lincoln
Photo by Mathew Brady