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InMary Todd Lincoln was an old woman living on a hill on the outskirts of Springfield, Illinois. She kept her curtains drawn, never went outside, never received visitors. Neighborhood children pointed up at her window and hurried past, frightened by "the crazy lady" in the upstairs room.

Forty years before, Todd had married, in the parlor of this same house, a tall, awkward lawyer, and still wore his ring, inscribed with the words -- "Love is eternal. She had once said of her future husband: "He is to be President of the United States some day; if I had not thought so I never would have married him, for you can see he is not pretty. The film follows the couple from their strikingly different childhoods in the South to their years in the White House.

It uncovers their public ambitions and their private fears. It paints a vivid picture of a complicated marriage, of a couple who loved each other passionately, quarreled intensely, and who were frequently forced to mourn. And it describes the impact of Lincoln's brutal assassination on the nation and the sanity of his wife. As the first dual biography, A House Divided does much more than explore the personal story of one of the most intriguing couples to have lived at Pennsylvania Avenue, it also reflects on the time of the Lincolns' lives and the parallels with a nation at war.

Elected to the Oval Office only to see the nation split in two, Lincoln led a confused and frightened people through the most terrible conflict in their history.

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At the same time, his own household mirrored the fissures that tore the nation apart and divided families from Maine to Mississippi. The great emancipator was married to the daughter of a slave owner from Kentucky, a woman who was frequently accused of being a Confederate sympathizer and whose brother lost his life fighting Lincoln's armies. To help tell this story, Grubin has pulled together an impressive cast of leading scholars and cultural commentators.

Wilson, Judge Frank J. Williams, Mark E. Neely Jr. Electricians Theodore A. Mark A. Hogan Glenn R. Miller Russell Senato. Musicians Dan C. Smith Lincoln Collection James D. A David Grubin Productions, Inc. Narrator : Inan old woman was living on a hill on the outskirts of Springfield, Illinois. Forty years before, she had been married in the parlor of this same house to a tall, awkward lawyer, and still wore his ring, inscribed with the words "Love is eternal.

Voice of Lincoln David Morse : "My wife is as handsome as when she was a girl, and I a poor nobody then, fell in love with her, and what is more, I have never fallen out. Narrator : He had been a dirt farmer's son, determined to make something of himself in law and politics. Narrator: Their marriage survived sharp differences of personality and temperament, endured the deaths of children.

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They reached the White House as partners. But the Civil War that tore the country apart, divided them as well. In the end, an assassin's bullet plunged Mary Lincoln into grief and madness and made Abraham Lincoln, the obscure prairie politician who had pledged to love her forever, into a legend. Voice of a mother and child: In this temple as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union the memory Abraham Lincoln is enshrined Linda Levitt Turner, Biographer: If you go to the Lincoln memorial and you look at that figure seated on a throne in this marble temple.

I remember going as and thinking that's what God looked like.

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Narrator: The story of the 'real' Abraham Lincoln has receded so far into the nation's memory that what remains seems little more than a dream. The man Mary Lincoln knew and loved and mourned has faded into myth. He was born February 12,in a cabin in the Kentucky wilderness, but Lincoln remembered little of his life there, and what he did remember, he didn't care to talk about.

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Voice of Lincoln David Morse : "It is a great piece of folly to attempt to make anything out of my early life. It can be condensed into a single sentence from Gray's Elegy, 'the short and simple annals of the poor. Narrator: Lincoln's childhood world is mostly gone, except the land around Knob Creek and Sinking Spring Farm and the stories people still tell there.

Milburn Howard Jr. I listened to my aunts, my dad, everybody was some way or another talked about Lincoln all the time. My grandmother she was born and got to talk to a gentleman that his parents played with Abraham Lincoln and his sister when they lived here. And he told stories.

Different people around here kind of passed them down. They may be twisted one way or another, but they're fairly accurate we think. We can't be gospel because there were not very many records back then. Some said she used to sing him mournful Scottish ball. Lincoln himself once told a friend that she was "an intellectual woman, sensitive, and somewhat sad. I see her as a soft-spoken, reflective person.

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They claimed she was you know thin, she was tall, dark-haired. Those were descriptions that people that knew her gave. So you, you know, you assume then you get your own picture. David Herbert Donald, Biographer: They all agreed that she was, quote, "intellectual. I think it meant that she must have thought about things carefully and talked rather well. Charles B. Strozier, Historian: Her communication with Lincoln would seem to have been at an early age one of telling stories, it's certainly interesting that all of Lincoln's great writings were written to be read aloud.

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They're all basically oral communication Narrator: Abraham's father, Thomas, could barely read or write. One neighbor remembered him "as a plain, unpretending, plodding man. Year after year, Abraham watched his father work the fields, tied to the land, at the mercy of the seasons. You got to understand that there were several families all living on Knob Creek at the same time and they were all more or less equal.

They were poor but they were equal. And probably they didn't realize they were poor because that's the way that it was on the frontier. A boy would have a lot of responsibility then. I would imagine Lincoln would come back in this valley looking for berries, hickory nuts, walnuts, probably herbs, to make some of their medicine with. And ah, maybe swim and try to catch the chipmunks. I mean that's just what boys do. We run the hills. And he was there. I'm sure I stepped in his tracks many a time. Narrator: The Lincoln cabin stood alongside a wilderness road.

Abraham could listen to travelers tell stories of the wider world and see slaves driven South to be sold. David Herbert Donald, Biographer: His mother and father were much opposed to slavery. They belonged to a fundamentalist Baptist group that was anti-slavery, and he undoubtedly got from them a sense that slavery was wrong even before he'd ever seen slaves or knew about slavery. He said later on that "There's never been a time when I was not anti-slavery.

Narrator: When Abraham was seven and his older sister Sara was nine, the Lincolns packed their few belongings and set out in the dead of winter for Indiana. Thomas Lincoln had always disliked living in a slave state, and had grown weary of disputes over the ownership of his land. David Herbert Donald, Biographer: It was a frontier area, so unsettled that there was no real road to the plot of ground that Thomas Lincoln laid claim to.

He had to cut a path in effect for his family to follow. Narrator: When they reached their wilderness claim, the Lincolns huddled around a fire, their nearest neighbor was more than a mile away. Abraham later remembered his terror of the wild animals prowling the undergrowth, the howling of wolves, and the scream of panthers. Voice of Lincoln David Morse : "The clearing away of surplus wood was the great task ahead. I, though very young, was large for my age and had an ax put into my hands at once, and I was almost constantly handling that most useful instrument.

Narrator: Life on the Beautiful older ladies wants love Lincoln was punishing: the ceaseless work, the isolation, and always the threat of sickness and death. Beautiful older ladies wants love Lincolna mysterious illness spread across the Indiana countryside and found its way into the Lincoln home. Nancy Hanks Lincoln was just 34 when she died.

Abraham was nine. Strozier, Historian: He suffered deeply. This fed in his mind and spirit a kind of fatalism and a dark brooding. Narrator: He never got over the loss. For the rest of his life, Abraham would struggle with depression. Voice of Lincoln David Morse : "She was my angel mother. All that I am, or hope ever to be, I owe to her. Narrator: The same year that Abraham Lincoln's mother died, inMary Todd was born, on December 13 in Lexington, Kentucky, surrounded by luxury the young Lincoln could scarcely have imagined.

She's living in a mansion with several parlors and a dining room, separate bedrooms, servants quarters, a coach house, a beautiful garden in the back. She's got all the clothes that she needs.

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