Ann Rutledge was Abraham Lincoln’s first love.
Her death at a young age caused Lincoln’s subsequent deep depression that made him think twice regarding his later engagement with Mary Todd. His grief forever altered his state of mind.
Ann’s death was his first serious bout of depression that would plague him for the remainder of his life, but was not his first meeting with death. He had already lost his mother at age 10, his sister at 19, and a beloved cousin. Lincoln always felt he knew death and heavy grief personally, often claiming to have dreams, or premonitions, specifically of water before a tragedy would strike.
Lincoln’s last letter to her was fearful and his suspicious mind is apparent.
MY DEARLY VALUED ANN It greatly pains me to hear from Nancy regarding your condition. I am sending with her — so you will know—when she gets back—that I will be over tomorrow early. I have been saying over and over to myself surely my traditional bad luck cannot reach me again through my beloved. I do long to confirm the confidence you have in heaven — but should, anything serious occur to you I fear my faith would be eternally broken. Mat told me you don't wish me to worry about the black cat crossing my path three times the other evening— I faithfully promise if you will hastily recover—to do away with any 'Jinks' you do not favor, allow me to express the hope that the close of day will find you much improved. My fervent love is with you
Yours affectionately ABE.
Ann is buried at Old Concord Burial Ground in Petersburg, Illinois. She lived in New Salem, IL which is a wonderful tourist spot if anyone finds themselves in the Springfield Area. I loved visiting there as a child and imagining how young Lincoln would have lived.
A granite stone near her grave reads:
“Out of me unworthy and unknown
The vibrations of deathless music;
“With malice toward none, with charity for all.”
Out of me the forgiveness of millions toward millions,
And the beneficent face of a nation
Shining with justice and truth.
I am Ann Rutledge who sleep beneath these weeds,
Beloved in life of Abraham Lincoln,
Wedded to him, not through union,
But through separation.
Bloom forever, O Republic,
From the dust of my bosom!”
This article is my main source and a wonderful article for additional reading.