SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Abraham Lincoln is still known 130 years after his death as Honest Abe, but a new book about the 16th president suggests he had to do the honorable thing and marry Mary Todd because she may have been pregnant.
Author Wayne Temple speculates that Todd, out of fear of becoming a spinster as she neared age 24, seduced Lincoln during trysts at a friend's home, leading to her pregnancy and their hastily arranged marriage Nov. 4, 1842.
Their son, Robert, was born nine months to the day from the marriage.
Mr. Temple said his theory makes up "only a couple of pages" of "Abraham Lincoln: From Skeptic to Prophet," a 446-page, footnoted tome tracing Lincoln's religious beliefs that is being published by Mayhaven Publishing.
The author, a noted Lincoln scholar and chief deputy director of the Illinois State Archives in Springfield, acknowledges that nothing proves conclusively that Mary Todd was pregnant at the time of the wedding.
But Mr. Temple contended that, with the facts known about Lincoln's courtship, his reluctance about marriage, Mary Todd's desire to wed and the quick announcement of their union, "the situation seems to fit into the circumstances."
Lincoln scholars and researchers have long questioned the immediacy of the Lincolns' wedding and the timing of Robert Todd Lincoln's birth.
"I throw out the supposition that [Mary Todd] was a conniver and desperate to get married. That's what she came up to Springfield for," Mr. Temple said last week.
"We know something about Mary's almost obsession for getting married before turning 24. At that time, the public would almost have classified her as an old maid or a spinster. Once you were past 20, something must be wrong with you if you were attractive and had money but weren't married."
Mary Todd Lincoln turned 24 a month after the wedding. Lincoln was 33.
Lincoln, Mr. Temple writes, told a friend: "I shall have to marry that girl." On his way to the wedding, friends described Lincoln's appearance as that of "going to slaughter."