Dolley Madison was one of the most well-known and important women in America at the time. Dolley Payne was born into a strict Quaker family. She was one of eight children in the family. Since she was a child, she was known for her beautiful looks, kind ways, and happy personality. Because of this, she got a lot of attention from people. Even though she had some bad luck early on, it didn’t stop her from marrying James Madison, who went on to be Secretary of State under President Jefferson and then President of the United States. During her time in the White House, she was known for her social skills, which helped make her husband more popular as President. This made her the first “First Lady” to play a dominant and defining role. She came up with the idea that the First Lady should be like the mother of the country. This is something she still believes in and works on. She was the White House’s hostess. She did this by putting on parties and setting the main role of the First Lady. But after her husband Madison died, she had to live in poverty. The sale of her late husband’s papers helped her a little bit.
Early years and childhood
Dolley Madison was born as Dolley Payne in New Garden, North Carolina, to John Payne Jr. and Mary Coles Payne. Her father was not a Quaker, but her mother was. But Payne was brought up in the Quaker faith.
She was one of the couple’s eight children, and she spent most of her childhood in Virginia, near her mother’s family. The family moved there when she was just one year old. She grew up on the plantation her parents owned in the countryside of eastern Virginia. It was a safe and happy place for her.
Her father had slaves, which was against the Quaker beliefs he later came to follow. So, when the American Revolutionary War was over in 1783, he set all of his slaves free.
The family moved to Philadelphia, where her father opened a business that failed in the end. Even though she grew up in a strict society with lots of rules, she was busy, happy, and had a warm heart.
A Later Life
In 1793, when she was young, both her first husband and her second child died. She didn’t let the emotional turmoil change her happy personality, though, and so she became known in Philadelphia as a young, pretty, and charming widow.
Congressman James Madison noticed her right away. He was blown away by her beauty and charm, so he asked her to marry him. In 1794, they were finally married. Because he wasn’t a Quaker and came from an Episcopalian background, she had to give up her Quaker faith.
After getting married, Madison left politics in 1797, after serving in the House of Representatives for eight years. But he didn’t stay out of politics for long. In 1800, after Thomas Jefferson became the third President of the United States, he was asked to be the Secretary of State for Jefferson’s administration.
The family moved to Washington, where her husband became Secretary of State and she became the de facto hostess at state dinners. Since Jefferson was a widower, she took on the role of First Lady when he was President.
She also helped make the White House look nicer and grow. The White House is where the President of the United States lives. During the process, she worked very closely with the architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe.
In the election for President in 1808, Madison was chosen as the candidate for the democratic party. He was finally chosen, and he served as president for two terms, from 1809 to 1812 and from 1812 to 1817. During this time, she became the First Lady of the United States.
In 1809, she threw the first party, which became known as the “inauguration ball.” After that, she was in charge of her husband’s social schedule. In the social world, she was well-liked for her grace and friendliness, which also helped Madison become well-known in general.
Because she was kind and polite, she was able to make even the worst situations better. She was known for making everyone feel welcome, even if they were enemies, hard to deal with, or warrior chiefs.
1814 was a very important year in her life. As the White House staff got ready to leave because the British were coming, she told them to save the painting of George Washington from the fire. She became a hero in her country because she saved the painting.
She ran away to Georgetown and then moved to Virginia by going across the Potomac. After the British left Washington and the threat was gone, she went back to the capital to meet up with Madison.
In April 1817, after Madison stopped being President of the United States, he and his wife moved back to the Montpelier plantation in Orange County, Virginia. They lived there until 1836 when Madison died.
In 1830, her son from her first marriage, Payne Todd, went to debtors’ jail. He hurt their finances by mismanaging not only his own business but also the Madison estate. To pay off his debts, James Madison’s family sold land in
Kentucky and put half of the Montpelier plantation up as a loan.
After her husband died, she spent a lot of time organizing and making copies of his papers. Congress agreed to pay $55,000 to edit and publish seven volumes of Madison’s papers, which include his unique notes on the 1787 convention.
She moved to Washington, DC, and left Todd in charge of the property of Montpelier and the plantation. However, the latter’s addiction to alcohol and illness left him unfit for the task.
She tried again to sell the President’s papers to get out of financial trouble, but no one was interested. Then, to pay off her debts, she sold Montpelier, its remaining slaves, and its furniture.
Personal History and Legacies
In January 1790, in Philadelphia, she got married for the first time to John Todd, a lawyer who was also a Quaker. John Payne and William Temple, their two sons, were a blessing.
When the yellow fever epidemic hit Philadelphia in 1793 and killed more than 5,000 people, her husband and younger son died.
Disheartened by the event that left her a helpless widow at age 25 with a son to support, she moved into a rooming house where Aaron Burr, a friend of James Madison’s and a fellow student, lived.
Aaron Burr brought them together. Even though Madison was 17 years older than Payne when they first met, they got along well from the start. Over time, their friendship turned into a courtship, and in September 1794, they got married. There were no kids in the family.
In 1849, at the age of 81, she died at her home in Washington. She was first buried in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C., but was later moved to Montpelier so she could be buried next to her husband.
Estimated Net worth
Dolley is one of the wealthiest and most well-known Political Wives. Based on what we know and what Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider say, Dolley Madison is worth about $1.5 million.
She was the first “First Lady,” and she started the idea that a First Lady should be like the mother of the country.