Mary Owens, left, and Lincoln (Photo Courtesy of Illinois State Historical Society/ Corbis)
Yes, as it turns out, not much has changed in the dating world since the 1800s. And before Lincoln was betrothed to Mary Todd -- who was known to be quite a beauty in her day -- he had to blow off another Mary... Mary Owens.
Lincoln is said to have jokingly agreed to propose to Ms. Owens, who he met briefly in 1833. Ms. Owens lived in Kentucky and her sister, who kept needling Lincoln about a courtship, told him she would bring Ms. Owens back to Illinois only if he agreed to marry her.
The year 1836 rolled up and so did Ms. Owens -- who thought she was engaged. Quite displeased with her appearance, a confounded Lincoln instantly regretted his promise and grappled with how to handle the situation. Lincoln later wrote: "...when I beheld her, I could not for my life avoid thinking of my mother ; and this, not from withered features, for her skin was too full of fat to permit of its contracting into wrinkles, but from her want of teeth, weather-beaten appearance in general, and from a kind of notion that ran in my head that nothing could have commenced at the size of infancy and reached her present bulk in less than thirty-five or forty years ; and, in short, I was not at all pleased with her."
Mary Todd (Photo Courtesy of FirstLadies.org)
Ms. Owens ended their engagement in the fall of 1837.
Two years later Lincoln met Mary Todd at a ball when he was practicing law and was part of the Illinois state legislature. When Todd was young she said she would one day marry a man who would become president of the United States and she felt she found that man in Lincoln. After an on-again-off-again engagement, the two wed in 1842.
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