In 1839 Miss Mary Todd, of Kentucky, arrived in Springfield to visit a married sister, Mrs. Edwards. At the instance of his friend Speed, who was also a Kentuckian, Lincoln became a visitor at the Edwards’, and before long it was apparent to
the observant among those in Springfield that the lively young lady held him captive. Engagements at that time and in that neighborhood were not announced as soon as they were made, and it is not at all impossible that Miss Todd and Mr. Lincoln were betrothed many months before any other than Mrs. Edwards and Mr. Speed knew of it.
At this time, as was the case till Lincoln was elected to the presidency, his one special rival in Illinois was Stephen A. Douglas. Mr. Douglas had more of the social graces than Mr. Lincoln, and it appeared to him that nothing would be more interesting than to cut out his political rival in the affections of the entertaining and lively Miss Todd, and so he paid her court.
A spirited young lady from Kentucky at that time in Illinois would have been almost less than human if she had refused to accept the attentions of the two leading men of the locality. Therefore Miss Todd, being quite human, encouraged Douglas, and again there was what nowadays would have been called a flirtation. This course of action did not spur Lincoln on in his devotion, but made him less ardent, and he concluded, after much self worriment, to break off the engagement, which he did, but at the same interview there was a reconciliation and a renewal of the engagement.
Lincoln’s marriage to Mary Todd occurred in Springfield, Ill., at the home of Mr. M. W. Edwards, where Miss Todd lived. She was the belle of Springfield. The marriage, although hastily arranged in the end, was perhaps the first one performed in that city with all the requirements of the Episcopal ceremony. Rev. Charles Dresser officiated. Among the many friends of Lincoln who were present was Thomas C. Brown, one of the judges of the state supreme court. He was a blunt, outspoken man and an old timer.
Parson Dresser was attired in full canonical robes and recited the service with much impressive solemnity. He handed Lincoln the ring, who, placing it on the bride’s finger, repeated the church formula, "With this ring I thee endow with all my goods and chattels, lands and tenements."
Judge Brown, who had never before witnessed such a ceremony, and looked upon it as utterly absurd, ejaculated, in a tone loud enough to be heard by all. "God Almighty, Lincoln, the statute fixes all that!" This unexpected interruption almost upset the old parson, who had a keen sense of the ridiculous, but he quickly recovered his gravity and hastily pronounced the couple man and wife.