After her husband’s assassination, Mary Lincoln moved with her two sons, Robert and Tad, to Chicago, where she spent most of her time writing letters to various government officials seeking a government pension. She felt she deserved a pension as the widow of a fallen commander during a time of war, and regarded her situation as identical to that of the wives of fallen Army officers. But giving a pension to a president’s widow was unprecedented in American history. It was even more difficult in Mary Lincoln’s case because during her years as First Lady she had insulted and offended so many congressmen and senators, and had been the subject of so many malicious rumors and negative publicity about her supposed infidelity to both her husband and her country that congressional support for her request was practically nonexistent.
In 1868, Mary and Tad went abroad after first witnessing Robert's marriage. In Germany, Tad studied with a tutor and Mary continued her campaign for a pension, which she finally received in 1870.