Rachel Jackson

Seventh First Lady of the United States

Rachel Donelson Jackson was the wife of Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States. As a child, Rachel was brought to the homes of Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and Richard Henry Lee, all of whom were colleagues of her father in the House of Burgesses. Although she died before President Jackson took office, Rachel Jackson is considered an American First Lady.

Rachel Donelson was a child of the frontier. Born near present-day Chatham, Virginia in June 1767, she journeyed to the Tennessee wilderness with her parents when only 12. Her father Colonel John Donelson was a Revolutionary War soldier, member of the Virginia Assembly and co-founder of the new settlement of Fort Nashborough, later to be named Nashville, Tennessee.

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Elizabeth Grimke Rutledge

Wife of Founding Father John Rutledge

John Rutledge was a delegate to the South Carolina Assembly, the Stamp Act Congress, the Continental Congress and the U.S. Constitutional Convention, where he signed the United States Constitution. The Founding Father was also Governor of South Carolina from 1776-1782, Chief Justice of South Carolina and Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. His elder brother, Edward Rutledge, signed the Declaration of Independence.

Image: John Rutledge

Elizabeth Grimke was born November 29, 1741, in South Carolina, the daughter of Charleston lawyer Frederick Grimke and Martha (Emmes) Grimke. Elizabeth was the first cousin of John Faucheraud Grimke, father of the famous 19th-century abolitionist sisters, Sarah and Angelina Grimke.

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Lady Christina Stuart Griffin

Wife of Founding Father Cyrus Griffin

Image: Cyrus Griffin

Cyrus Griffin (1749 – 1810) was a lawyer and judge who served as the last President of the Continental Congress, holding office from January 22, 1788, to November 2, 1788. After the ratification of the new United States Constitution rendered the old Congress obsolete, he became a Federal judge.

Lady Christina Stuart was born in 1751 in Peebleshire, Scotland. Cyrus Griffin was born July 16, 1748 in Farnham, Virginia, the son of Leroy and Mary Ann Bertrand Griffin. Griffin studied law at the Temple in London and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, where he became close friends with Charles Stuart, Lord Linton, first son and heir of the Earl of Traquair. During the Christmas holiday, Charles invited him to his family’s estate.

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Mary Pinckney

Wife of Founding Father Charles Pinckney

Image: Charles Pinckney

Charles Pinckney (1757-1824) was an American politician who was a signer of the U.S. Constitution, Governor of South Carolina and a member of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. An ardent believer in the rights of man, he helped to establish a strong national government so that “the effects of the Revolution may never cease to operate,” but continue to serve as an example to others “until they have unshackled all the nations that have firmness to resist the fetters of despotism.”

Mary Eleanor Laurens was born April 27, 1770, at Charleston, South Carolina, the daughter of Eleanor Ball Laurens and Founding Father Henry Laurens. Charles Pinckney was born into the South Carolina low-country aristocracy on October 26, 1757, the son of Frances Brewton and Charles Pinckney. His father, a wealthy lawyer and planter, owned seven plantations scattered throughout the colony. Snee Farm, which the elder Pinckney purchased in 1754, was one of the family’s favorite country retreats.

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Elizabeth Phillips Gates

Wife of Revolutionary War General Horatio Gates

Horatio Gates was born in England in 1727. He received a lieutenant’s commission in the British Army in 1745. Gates went to Halifax, Nova Scotia in June 1749 and served as aide-de-camp to Colonel Edward Cornwallis, uncle of Charles Cornwallis. In 1752, Colonel Cornwallis returned to England, but Gates served as aide-de-camp to two successors. During this time, he met Elizabeth Phillips, but in order to marry her, he had to improve his prospects, so in January 1754, he returned to London.

Image: General Horatio Gates

There, Gates found that his connections were no help in the present political climate. By June, he had given up and was about to return to Nova Scotia. Then a position came available in a company stationed in Maryland. A captain was ill and wanted to sell his commission. Edward Cornwallis recommended Horatio Gates and Gates was able to purchase the commission.

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Mary Middleton Butler

Wife of Founding Father Pierce Butler

Image: Pierce Butler

Mary Middleton was born in 1750, the daughter of Thomas Middleton, South Carolina planter and slave importer. Mary’s uncle Arthur Middleton was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Mary’s grandmother Mary Brandford Bull willed her holdings, including Toogoodoo Plantation, to her four granddaughters. Three of the granddaughters died soon after receiving their inheritance and Bull’s vast fortune was all transferred to Mary.

Pierce Butler was born in Ireland on July 11, 1744, and came to America in 1768 as an officer in the British Army. He was a major in the 29th Regiment, which was sent to Boston in 1768 in an effort to suppress the growing colonial resistance against Britain. A detachment from his unit fired the shots during the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770, in which British redcoats killed five civilian men, thereby intensifying the confrontation between the colonies and England.

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Sarah Strong

Wife of Massachusetts Founding Father Caleb Strong

Sarah Hooker was born on January 30, 1758, in Northampton, Massachusetts, the daughter of Reverend John Hooker and Sarah Worthington Hooker. Caleb Strong was born in Northampton, Massachusetts, on January 9, 1745, the only son of Lt. Caleb Strong and Phebe Lyman Strong. Caleb’s ancestor, the Elder John Strong, who settled in Northampton in 1659, established a tannery and became a leading citizen in the affairs of the town and of the church. The Strong tannery was inherited by Caleb’s father.

Caleb Strong graduated from Harvard College with highest honors in 1764, then studied law with the eminent Judge Joseph Hawley. Strong returned to Northampton and opened a practice in 1772.

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Sarah Morris Mifflin

Wife of Founding Father Thomas Mifflin

Portrait of Sarah and Thomas Mifflin
By John Singleton Copley, 1773
The Mifflins were the only Philadelphians painted by John Singleton Copley, the greatest artist in the American colonies prior to the Revolution. Copley depicts not only the features and costumes of his sitters, but creates an image of marriage as an equal partnership – an innovative concept in American portraiture at the time. Sarah recalled that Copley required twenty sittings for the hands alone. In the portrait, Sarah is weaving a decorative fringe on a portable loom, which symbolizes their endorsement of the colonists’ boycott of highly taxed imported English goods.

Sarah Morris was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on April 5, 1747. Thomas Mifflin was also born in Philadelphia, on January 10, 1744, the eldest son of wealthy Quaker merchant John Mifflin and Elizabeth Bagnall Mifflin. Thomas attended Philadelphia’s grammar schools, and graduated at the age of sixteen from the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania).

Following in his father’s footsteps, Thomas Mifflin apprenticed himself to an important local merchant, completing his training with a year-long trip to Europe to gain a better insight into markets and trading patterns. In 1765 Mifflin returned to the colonies and founded an import and export business with his younger brother George Mifflin.

Thomas Mifflin married Sarah Morris on March 4, 1765. The young couple – witty, intelligent and wealthy – soon became an ornament in Philadelphia’s highest social circles. Sarah was an accomplished and supportive partner.

Military Career
Soon after the beginning of the Revolutionary War, Mifflin left the Continental Congress to serve in the Continental Army. Upon his appointment as a Major in May 1775, John Adams declared that Mifflin “ought to have been a general” because he was the “animating soul” of the revolutionary movement. Soon thereafter, the Quakers disowned him because his involvement with a military force contradicted his faith’s pacifist beliefs.

On June 23, 1775, Mifflin was appointed as General George Washington‘s aide-de-camp, but Mifflin’s talents and mercantile background led almost immediately to a more challenging assignment. In August, Washington appointed him Quartermaster General of the Continental Army. Washington believed that Mifflin’s personal integrity would protect the Army from the fraud and corruption. Mifflin struggled to eliminate the abuses that existed in the supply system.

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Rebecca Calhoun Pickens

Wife of Patriot Militia General Andrew Pickens

Image: General Andrew Pickens
Robert Wilson, Artist
At the Battle of Ninety Six
His blue coat identifies him as a Patriot.

Rebecca Floride Calhoun was born on November 18, 1745, at Long Canes Creek, Abbeville, South Carolina. She was the daughter of Ezekiel and Jane Ewing Calhoun. According to 800 Years of Calhouns, at the age of 15, during the Long Canes Massacre, Rebecca hid for three days in the long canes to escape the Cherokee who killed her grandmother, Catherine Montgomery Calhoun, on February 1, 1760.

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Mary Norris Dickinson

Wife of Founding Father John Dickinson

Image: Portrait of Mary Norris Dickinson
First Lady of Pennsylvania and Delaware
By Charles Willson Peale, 1772

Mary Norris was born July 19, 1740, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daugther of wealthy Philadelphia Quakers, Isaac Norris and Sarah Logan Norris. Her father was Speaker of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. John Dickinson was born in Talbot County, Maryland, on November 2, 1732, into the family of Judge Samuel Dickinson, his second wife Mary Cadwalader and assorted step-brothers and sisters.

The family moved to Poplar Hall, an elegant brick mansion in Delaware a few years later. John Dickinson elected to follow his father into the law. At eighteen, he began to study law in Philadelphia, and in 1753, his parents sent him to London to continue his legal studies at the Middle Temple.

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