Dolley Madison

First Lady and Wife of Founding Father James Madison Image: Dolley Payne Todd Madison First Lady of the United States 1809-1817 By Rembrandt Peale c. 1817 Dolley Payne was born on May 20, 1768, in the Quaker settlement of New Garden in Guilford County, North Carolina. Her parents, John and Mary Coles Payne, had moved there from Virginia in 1765. Her mother, a Quaker, had married John Payne, a non-Quaker, in 1761. Three years later, John was admitted to the Quaker Monthly Meeting in Hanover County, Virginia, and Dolley Payne was raised in the Quaker faith.

Theodosia Bartow Prevost Burr

Theodosia Burr

Wife of Vice President Aaron Burr In 1763 Theodosia Bartow married James Marcus Prevost, a British Army officer with whom she had five children. They lived in Bergen County, New Jersey, in a home they named the Hermitage. In 1776 James Marcus was called back to active duty in the Revolutionary War, while Theodosia tried to keep their home from being confiscated by the American government. Meanwhile she began a relationship with a young American officer named Aaron Burr. After her husband’s death in 1781, 35-year-old Theodosia Prevost, with five children, married 25-year-old Aaron Burr. Childhood and Early Years Theodosious Bartow died in a carriage accident in Shrewsbury, New Jersey, in 1746 at age 34, while his wife Ann was…

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Mary Todd Lincoln

First Lady of the United States 1861-1865 Mary Todd Lincoln supported her husband throughout his presidency, and witnessed his fatal shooting at nearly point blank range at Ford’s Theater on April 14, 1865. Mary’s life was difficult after her husband was assassinated; she suffered from depression and mental anguish, which led to her being hospitalized for a time. Image: Mary Todd Lincoln in 1846 Mary Todd was born on December 13, 1818, in Lexington, Kentucky, the fourth of seven children born to banker Robert Smith Todd and Elizabeth Parker Todd. Robert Todd provided his children from two marriages with social standing and material advantages. When Mary was seven, her mother died. Mary’s father remarried to Elizabeth Humphreys in 1826. This…

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Dorothy Hancock

Wife of Declaration Signer John Hancock Dorothy Quincy Hancock Portrait John Singleton Copley, Artist, 1772 Copley posed Dorothy with a hand to her face in a thoughtful pose. Her silk pink robe and matching stomacher are decorated by a large bow, and the sleeves end in triple ruffles. Her sheer apron is embroidered with large floral sprays. Her hair was probably combed over a roll, and atop this hairdo she wore a dress cap of lace, gauze and ribbon. Dorothy Quincy, born in Boston on May 10, 1747, was the youngest of ten children of Judge Edmund Quincy and Elizabeth Wendell Quincy. Dorothy spent most of her early years in Braintree, Massachusetts, in a lively household, where John and Samuel…

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Lucretia Garfield

Wife of Union General James A. Garfield Lucretia Rudolph was born on April 19, 1832, in Hiram, Ohio, the eldest of four children of Zebediah Rudolph, a prosperous carpenter-farmer, and Arabella Mason Rudolph. Her family were devout members of a religious sect called the Disciples of Christ. Lucretia’s father was a leader in both the business and religious communities. Her parents firmly believed in the importance of education, and insisted that their daughter attend school. Although Lucretia was a sickly child, she received a thorough education. She liked school and was a very good student, and at a young age she developed a love of literature that would last throughout her life. Education Lucretia attended Garrettsville Public Grammar School in…

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Martha Jefferson

Wife of President Thomas Jefferson Martha Wayles was born at The Forest in Charles City County – near Williamsburg, Virginia – on October 30, 1748. Her parents were John Wayles and his first wife Martha (Patsy) Eppes, wealthy plantation owners. Martha’s mother was the daughter of Francis Eppes of Bermuda Hundred, a huge Virginia plantation. Patsy died when her daughter Martha was only three weeks old. No record of her early years exist but in light of her father’s wealth and prominence, Martha Wayles was likely educated at home by traveling tutors in literature, poetry, French, and Bible study; she likely received considerable training in music. Certainly a young woman of her region, era, and wealth would also be trained…

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Abigail Adams

First Lady and Wife of Founding Father John Adams Abigail Adams (1744-1818) was the wife of President John Adams, the mother of President John Quincy Adams, and the second First Lady of the United States. As the Second Continental Congress drafted and debated the Declaration of Independence, Abigail began to urge John in her letters that the creation of a new form of government was an opportunity to make the legal status of women equal to that of men. The text of those letters became some of the earliest known writings advocating women’s rights. Young Abigail Adams Abigail Smith was born on November 11, 1744, at Weymouth, Massachusetts to the Reverend William and Elizabeth Smith. On her mother’s side, she…

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Eliza Johnson

First Lady of the United States Eliza Johnson was the wife of Andrew Johnson, who became the 17th President of the United States on the morning of April 15, 1865 – after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Due to ill health, Mrs. Johnson left the social duties of the First Lady to her daughter Martha Johnson Patterson, but was a close confidante to the President during his years in the White House. Eliza McCardle was born October 4, 1810, at Leesburg, Tennessee, the only child of John and Sarah Phillips McCardle. Eliza lost her father when she was still a small child, and was raised by her widowed mother in Greeneville, Tennessee. After her father’s death, Eliza McCardle helped her…

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Martha Washington

Wife of President George Washington Image: Martha Washington Michael Deas, Artist Although the title was not coined until after her death, Martha Washington was the first of the First Ladies of the United States. During her lifetime, she was known as Lady Washington. When George Washington took his oath of office in New York City on April 30, 1789, and assumed the new duties of President of the United States, his wife brought to their position a tact and discretion developed over 58 years of life in Tidewater Virginia society. Martha was a rather small, pleasant-looking woman, practical with good common sense. The oldest daughter of John and Frances Dandridge, Martha was born June 2, 1731, at her parents’ Chestnut…

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