“It’s an overcast morning outside President Lincoln’s Cottage, a national historic site in Washington, D.C., and Erin Carlson Mast is struggling to open a pair of huge, historic wooden pocket doors. ‘When we began the restoration these had been closed for over 100 years,’ Mast, the site’s executive director, tells NPR’s Steve Inskeep.
Abraham Lincoln and his family spent summers at this cottage in the 1860s, making use of a retirement complex called the Old Soldiers’ Home. It’s uphill from the White House and thus much cooler in the summer — in fact, too cold for some.
‘The one letter we know he wrote definitively from here, he’s writing to his wife, Mary, and says that the housekeeper and the cook have grown so cold at Soldiers’ Home and want to move back to the White House,’ Mast says. ‘And he just ends with the simple question, ‘Shall they?’ So he’s in no hurry to leave.’
The recipient of that letter, Mary Todd Lincoln, is one of several Civil War-era women at the center of Capital Dames: The Civil War and the Women of Washington, 1848-1868, a new book by Morning Edition contributor Cokie Roberts.
Sitting in the cottage at a marble-topped table, Roberts explains how these women — who couldn’t vote and were considered to be their husbands’ property — exercised power in Washington.”
Read the full article and listen to the segment online: http://www.npr.org/2015/04/10/398334446/meet-the-capital-dames-civil-war-washington-s-secret-power-brokers
Image by Ariel Zambelich for NPR.