Soviets put brutal end to Hungarian revolution A spontaneous national uprising that began 12 days before in Hungary is viciously crushed by Soviet tanks and troops on this day in 1956. Thousands were killed and wounded and nearly a quarter-million Hungarians fled the country. The problems in Hungary began in October 1956, when thousands of protesters took to the streets demanding a more democratic political system and freedom from Soviet oppression. In response, Communist Party officials appointed Imre Nagy, a former premier who had been dismissed from the party for his criticisms of Stalinist policies, as the new premier. Nagy tried to restore peace and asked the Soviets to withdraw their troops. The Soviets did so, but Nagy then tried to push the Hungarian revolt forward by abolishing one-party rule. He also announced that Hungary was withdrawing from the Warsaw Pact (the Soviet bloc’s equivalent of NATO). On November 4, 1956, Soviet tanks rolled into Budapest to crush, once and for all, the national uprising. Vicious street fighting broke out, but the Soviets’ great power ensured victory. At 5:20 a.m., Hungarian Prime Minister Imre Nagy announced the invasion to the nation in a grim, 35-second broadcast, declaring: “Our troops are fighting. The Government is in place.” Within hours, though, Nagy sought asylum at the Yugoslav Embassy in Budapest. He was captured shortly thereafter and executed two years later. Nagy’s former colleague and imminent replacement, János Kádár, who had been flown secretly from Moscow to the city of Szolnok, 60 miles southeast of the capital, prepared to take power with Moscow’s backing. The Soviet action stunned many people in the West. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev had pledged a retreat from the Stalinist policies and repression of the past, but the violent actions in Budapest suggested otherwise. An estimated 2,500 Hungarians died and 200,000 more fled as refugees. Sporadic armed resistance, strikes and mass arrests continued for months thereafter, causing substantial economic disruption. Inaction on the part of the United States angered and frustrated many Hungarians. Voice of America radio broadcasts and speeches by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles had recently suggested that the United States supported the “liberation” of “captive peoples” in communist nations. Yet, as Soviet tanks bore down on the protesters, the United States did nothing beyond issuing public statements of sympathy for their plight. 1842 Abraham Lincoln marries Mary Todd On this day in 1842, struggling lawyer Abraham Lincoln marries Mary Anne Todd, a Kentucky native, at her sister’s home in Springfield, Illinois. Mary Todd, whose nickname was Molly, was the child of wealthy parents and received her education in prestigious all-girls schools where she excelled in cultural studies and the arts. Her father socialized with the politically influential and, as a result, she acquired a keen interest in politics. Molly met Lincoln in 1840 when she was 21 and he was 31. She fell in love with the tall, gangly and kind Lincoln and, despite her family’s objections to his poverty and lack of political prospects, accepted his proposal of marriage. However, in early 1841, he inexplicably broke off their engagement. The split lasted until the fall of 1842, when they resumed their relationship. Some reports suggest they were reunited a year earlier but kept their relationship a secret. Regardless, after reuniting they wasted no time with a long engagement and were married on November 4. Mary Todd, even more so than her husband, was a staunch abolitionist. She supported his political career as he rose from the Illinois legislature to become one of the country’s most charismatic political orators to speak out against slavery. His views aroused the ire of southern slave-holding interests. Even early on in his career, Lincoln received death threats from pro-slavery southerners, and Mary Todd was labeled a traitor to her southern Kentucky roots. During the Civil War, she felt a deep sense of estrangement and tragedy; most of her male family members fought on the side of the Confederacy. To make matters worse, she was often criticized in newspapers and social circles for what was perceived as undue influence on her husband’s political appointments. One reporter went so far as to blame Mrs. Lincoln for causing the president’s health to deteriorate, giving him a gaunt frame and hollow cheeks. Those features were more likely caused by a debilitating wasting syndrome called Marfan’s disease and the burden of governing a nation at war with itself. During their marriage, a devoted Lincoln watched apprehensively as his dear wife developed illnesses and erratic behaviors, most likely in response to the death of their 11-year-old son Willie in 1862. She also suffered a head injury during a carriage accident in 1863 and thereafter complained of migraine headaches. Biographers and scholars have suggested that she suffered from severe depression and anxiety. (It is suspected Lincoln also suffered from depression.) On top of everything, after years of threats, her husband was indeed assassinated on April 14, 1865, while she sat next to him at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. It is perhaps not surprising in light of the deaths of her son and husband that Mary Todd developed a spiritualist philosophy that the living could communicate with dead. After Lincoln’s death, Mary Todd was forced to petition Congress for a widow’s pension. The death of a second son, Tad, in 1871 threw her over the brink into insanity and she was placed in a mental institution by her son Robert. After two attempts at suicide, Mary Todd was released into the custody of her sister Elizabeth. She lived with Elizabeth in Springfield, Illinois (where her husband and son were buried), until her death in 1882 at the age of 63.