Dolley Payne was born in a Quaker community in North Carolina on May 20, 1768 to John and Mary Coles Payne. The family soon moved to a plantation in Virginia, and eventually to Philadelphia.
She is often credited with saving the portrait of George Washington when the British attacked the Capitol, including the White House, in 1814 when (on August 17), 4,000 British troops began landing 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.
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