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Mary Todd Lincoln's sanity, then and now: expert discussion Monday

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[April 13, 2012]  SPRINGFIELD -- Former first lady Mary Todd Lincoln's mental state will be the focus of a round-table discussion of mental health laws, then and now, by distinguished historians, legal experts and mental health professionals. The discussion will be on Monday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Room 212 of the Illinois Capitol Building in Springfield.

The event is free and open to the public, but advance reservations are required and may be made by calling 217-558-8934.

Best-selling author and attorney Scott Turow will moderate the two-part discussion, which will examine Mrs. Lincoln's mental condition from a historical and a modern perspective.

Mary Todd Lincoln was committed to a sanitarium in Batavia in 1875 after her son, Robert, succeeded in getting a jury to declare her insane under existing laws. Many historians have felt that the outcome of Mrs. Lincoln's "insanity trial" would have been much different if it were decided today.

Round-table discussion participants are Steven Beckett, University of Illinois College of Law; Catherine Clinton, author of "Mrs. Lincoln: A Life"; Jason Emerson, author of "The Madness of Mary Lincoln"; Judge Susan Fox Gillis, Cook County Circuit Court; Dr. Bennett Leventhal, University of Illinois Chicago; attorney Saul Morse of Brown, Hay & Stephens, LLP; Dr. Peter Alahi, University of Illinois College of Medicine; Nanette Larson, director of Recovery Support Services, Department of Human Services; attorney Kerry Peck of Peck, Bloom LLC; and Inez Toledo from the Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission.

The round-table discussion Monday is the first in a yearlong series of events produced and sponsored by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and the Illinois Supreme Court Historic Preservation Commission.

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Two retrials featuring modern attorneys and judges will also be held to determine Mary Todd Lincoln's mental state by today's standards. Those are scheduled for Sept. 24 in Chicago and Oct. 1 in Springfield.

The "Culture of Clothing," which will use Mrs. Lincoln as an example to look at women's roles and their changing clothing styles through history, will be presented Nov. 12 in Chicago and Nov. 19 in Springfield.

Dramatic performances featuring the interaction between Mary Todd Lincoln and Myra Bradwell, her advocate, will be scheduled in both cities.

Exhibits of Mrs. Lincoln's original extravagances will also be presented this year at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield.

For ticket information, visit the event website at

[Text from file received from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency]

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