11. Abraham Lincoln suffered physical abuse at the hands of his wife
Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd were married in November, 1842, and eventually the couple had four sons together, only one of which, Robert Todd Lincoln, would live to adulthood. Mary Todd was socially ambitious, a daughter of the south whose brothers served in the Confederate army. She was both verbally and physically abusive of her husband, beginning as early as the 1840s, when her violent fits of temper arose with alarming frequency. Lincoln’s law partner wrote of an incident in which Lincoln was attempting to lay a fire in their Springfield home when she struck him across the face with a piece of firewood, unhappy that he was taking so long to light the fire. She threw food at him during tirades at table, and once through a cup of coffee in his face.
Even in the White House Lincoln was not free from his wife’s burst of temper, which bordered on insanity according to some biographers. She launched several spending sprees, rehabilitating the White House and her wardrobe at the President’s expense, incurring his anger at the profligate spending, for which he could do little but admonish her, though he tightened his control of his accounts. His increased attention to her spending their savings led her to open credit accounts with merchants outside of Washington, away from the President’s increasingly watchful eye. A decade after Lincoln’s death, her only surviving son, Robert, had her committed to an asylum due to her erratic behavior. She began a letter campaign to publicly embarrass the family, which led her to be allowed to live in the home of a sister. Modern scholars have postulated that Mrs. Lincoln may have been bipolar, others have attributed her behavior to physical disorders, but there is no question that Abraham Lincoln endured life with an abusive spouse throughout their marriage.