The First Lady’s tenure at the White House was marked by mood swings, cattiness and excessive spending. In the letter, written on the occasion of the Lincoln’s first New Years Eve at the White House, Mrs. Lincoln scolds a certain Mrs. Harris for sending a lesser gift than she had expected. She writes: “I am surprised to find that you have sent me no flowers – the bonnet is perfectly useless. If you cannot do better, send me some white ones – like the one you sent in the bonnet,” and closes with, “I did not suppose you would treat me thus.”
The letter, revealing of Mrs. Lincoln’s temperament, is filled with sarcasm, condescension and hypersensitivity, supporting recent theories that Mrs. Lincoln may have suffered from bipolar disorder. Within the biography to be offered at auction, the letter strategically appears in a chapter devoted to the Lincoln’s early courtship. Other historical manuscripts in the rare tomes have likewise been carefully positioned to coincide with formative moments in the President’s life.