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Letters to the Editor

Devil with a Blue Dress On

July 5, 2021

Dear Railsplitter: 

Below is a photo of Mary Lincoln in a photo taken March 4th, 1861 attired in the BLUE gown she wore later that night to the inaugural ball. It wasn’t WHITE then and it wasn’t white in 1930, regardless of what some misguided newspaper article stated. A minimal amount of research of period publications and diary entries from attendees describing her gown would debunk this often repeated myth about the white dress. 


Joseph Mason

Editor: It is truly amazing the amount of information one can deduce from an otherwise ordinary daguerreotype. Notwithstanding the fact that daguerreotypes were no longer being made in 1861 (even though I wasn’t alive back then, I am entitled to my opinion), I don’t think this is Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. It is actually Jefferson and Varina Davis and was taken on December 20, 1860, the day South Carolina seceded from the Union. Regarding the controversy over the color of Mary Todd Lincoln’s 1861 inaugural ball gown, does it really make any difference? A careful reading of the 1930 news photo and caption would show that no mention was made of the color. You thought they said white, but that’s what you wanted to hear (power of suggestion, my friend). We will discover the true color of the dress (I hope, for your sake and continued credibility that it is, indeed, blue) when it eventually comes on the market because, sooner or later, it has to surface and I WILL obtain it!! In the meantime, please share with us any other insights and discoveries you can divine regarding this remarkable photo. DA