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Mrs. Lincoln Paid the Tab

By Patricia B. Mitchell

Mary Todd Lincoln in the White House

In 1862, when the Count de Paris and Count de Chambord visited Washington, Mary Todd Lincoln was urged by Secretary of State William Seward to entertain them in the White House. However, Mrs. Lincoln was trying to economize at the time and refused to make arrangements for a dinner unless the government paid for it. Seward, though, insisted that the Lincolns foot the bill (as was then customary), so Mrs. Lincoln decided to sell a large pile of manure which had been delivered for fertilizing the White House lawn. The proceeds paid for the dinner.