Mary Ann Todd was born in Lexington, Kentucky, on December 13, 1818. She was the granddaughter of Levi Todd, one of the founders of Lexington, and daughter of Robert S. Todd, a prosperous business leader and active Whig. Mary attended two schools in Lexington over a period of nine years, making her one of the best-educated women of her generation. In 1839, Mary Todd joined her older sisters in Springfield, Illinois, where she lived with her sister Elizabeth (Todd) Edwards.
There she met Abraham Lincoln whom she married in 1842. They had four children: Robert Todd, Edward, William, and Thomas (Tad); all but the eldest, Robert Todd, predeceased her. Although Mary Todd Lincoln lived the normal domestic life of typical nineteenth-century, middle-class women, she always had a strong interest in political issues and in her husband's career.