Lots of intelligent women

During the 1860s, women couldn’t vote, and they didn’t run for political office. Most of them didn’t have a career outside the home. But, some of them were well educated and had remarkable influence on the men in their lives. I am amazed at the number of intelligent, well educated women described by Doris Kearns Goodwin in her book Team of Rivals.

Mary Todd Lincoln is an excellent example. “Lincoln had always been attracted to intelligent women,” writes Goodwin, “and Mary was a woman of intellectual gifts who had earned ‘the highest marks’ in school and taken home ‘the biggest prizes.’ Endowed with an excellent memory, a quick wit and a voracious appetite for learning, she shared Lincoln’s love for discussing books and poetry….Also, like Lincoln, she was fascinated by politics….In an era when, as Mary herself admitted, it was ‘unladylike’ to be so interested in politics, she avidly supported her husband’s political ambitions.”

Frances Seward wrote many letters to her husband. “She offered advice on political matters, critiqued his speeches and expressed her passionate opinions about slavery.”

Kate Chase, daughter of Salmon Chase, “had acquired an excellent education, a proficiency in several languages, an ability to converse with anyone, and, her biographer observes, ‘a scientific knowledge of politics that no woman, and few men, have ever surpassed.’”


3 responses to “Lots of intelligent women”

  1. Interesting post. Regretfully most of the information I learned about Mary Todd Lincoln was of a fairly negative nature. I was pleased with Sally Field’s portrayal of her as a thoughtful, caring person with a sharp intellect in the movie Lincoln.

    1. Resolute_Woman Avatar

      Leslie, thank you for your comment. Mary Todd Lincoln was a very interesting woman. Like most of us, she was a complicated person with some issues and with good points and bad points. Joy

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