Dolley Madison: Wife of American Founding Father James Madison

Dolley Madison: Wife of American Founding Father James Madison

Dolley Madison was born in a Quaker community in North Carolina on May 20, 1768 to John and Mary Coles Payne. The family moved to a plantation in Virginia, and eventually to Philadelphia.

She is often credited with saving a portrait of George Washington when the British attacked the Capitol, including the White House, in 1814 when 4,000 British troops landed in Maryland during the War of 1812.

There she remained long enough to preserve the cabinet papers, the life-size portrait of George Washington and other White House treasures. Lost in the fire, was the collection of the Library of Congress which was housed in the White House's congressional library’s north wing.

She was introduced to James Madison through a mutual acquaintance, Aaron Burr, who’d become the third vice president. The two married after a brief courtship in September 1794.

Burr would later fatally shoot Alexander Hamilton in a duel on July 11, 1804 from which Hamilton would die the following day.

Her husband, James Madison, was elected as the fourth President of the United States in 1808 by Thomas Jefferson and is credited as the chief author of the Bill of Rights.

Dolley Madison presided at the first inaugural ball in Washington when James Madison became president in 1809.

She died on July 12, 1849, and was the first First Lady to host the Inaugural Ball.


Like this post? Stop by and read Martha Washington: Wife of American Founding Father George Washington." Martha Washington was the first First Lady of the United States. As first lady, she initiated a weekly reception on Friday evenings hosting members of Congress, visiting dignitaries, and men and women from the local community. She journeyed to Cambridge, Valley Forge, Philadelphia, and Morristown to support George Washington and the soldiers in their disease-ridden winter encampments.

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