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26

THURSDAY

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In the 1860s, being a presidential confidante and counsel didn’t inspire media frenzy or impeachable chicanery. Honest Abe served a term that historians continue to portray in Shakespearian terms—when men thought women couldn’t keep good counsel, so they kept their own too well. With a president who never attracted suspicion while contorting himself into peculiar positions just to read a book—never sitting up, always lying flat or leaning against a tree, Lincoln displayed some childlike need for comfort. Or so you’ll learn from Mary Todd Lincoln and her dressmaker’s point of view at today’s lecture, “The Dressmaking of Elizabeth Keckley: From Slave to White House Confidante,” by museum curators Claudia Brush Kidwell and Lori Kauffman. Now that nothing is private, the thought that two women stood alone in a room, stripped to their crinolines, bearing only pride and children, is rather precious. There will be no talk of stains and DNA tests at noon at the Museum of American History’s Presidential Reception Suite, 14th & Constitution Ave. NW. FREE. (202) 357-2700. (Ginger Eckert)