Clara accepted her friend Mary’s invitation to double date on behalf of her fiancé, Henry. The two couples had shared evenings in the past, and they enjoyed each other’s company despite the fact that Mary and her husband were older than Clara and Henry. In this case, Mary invited the couple to see a show together.
To say that the double date proved memorable is an understatement, but let’s fast forward a couple of years. Clara and Henry married and, within five years, had three kids, two boys and a girl. Sadly, Henry developed mental and emotional issues. He had fought in the war, and today we would recognize at least a large part of his situation as being Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of all he had witnessed. He had been a front-line officer, you see, and had seen some of the fiercest fighting during the conflict and even rose to the rank of Major.
The couple had grown up with each other–literally. Both were from comfortably upper-middle class families from upstate New York. Henry’s widowed mom had married Clara’s widower dad when he was 11 and she was 13. The two formed a close friendship that blossomed into romantic love when they reached their early 20s. So, in many ways, the pair had been a couple much longer than other engaged young people their age.
A few years later and despite Henry’s continued mental deterioration, he managed to obtain a diplomatic post to Germany where the young family moved in the 80’s. Finally, Henry’s mental instability reached its climax. Wildly and paranoically suspicious of Clara, Henry attempted to kill their three children. Clara stood in the way of his anger and aggression, and Henry shot and killed her. He spent the rest of his life in a German mental institution, and the three children were sent back to the Untied States to be raised by an uncle. A sad ending to the couple’s realtionship.
Of course, some would point back to the double date the couple went on years before as being one of the main reasons for Henry’s issues and eventual mental breakdown. You see, the married couple Henry and Clara had been invited to go to the show with weren’t some ordinary husband and wife.
No, Clara and Henry had accepted an invitation to attend a showing of My American Cousin at Ford’s Theater that night with Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln.