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Dolley Payne Todd Madison

Dolley Payne was born on May 20, 1768 to John and Mary Payne. They were Quakers and lived a disciplined life. The Quakers always dressed in black and gray clothing that was very plain.

Dolley's father freed his slaves in 1783. After he sold the slaves they moved to Philadelphia.

In 1789, Dolley married John Todd Jr. John was a lawyer.

Dolley Madison was taller than her husband James who was only 5' 4" tall. Dolley was 5' 6" tall.

They had two children.

Mr. Todd and one of the children died of yellow fever.

Later, while she was living with her mother, Aaron Bur rr introduced her to James Madison.

James was shorter than Dolly. She sometimes referred to James as the "great little Madison."

In 1794, James Madison started courting Dolley Todd.

The were married on September 15, 1794. Since she married an Episcopalian, the Quakers removed her from the church.

Custom at the this time required that a hostess if women were guest at dinner or a party. Thomas Jefferson's wife had died so Dolly severed as a hostess for his party's.

James Madison became Secretary of State and he and Dolley moved to Washington, D.C.

Dolley gave elegant parties and she was called the "Queen of Washington City." She wore feathers, jewels and lots of makeup.

Dolly was the first woman to see her husband sworn in as President.

Mrs. Madison had a green parrot as a pet while she was First Lady.

Dolley Madison introduced ice cream at the White House. (Some people claim Jefferson brought ice cream from France.)

Dolley held the first Easter Egg Roll at the capitol.

In 1844, Dolley Madison became the first person to send a personal message using the Morse telegraph.

When James became president, Dolley was called "Lady President."

Dolley purchased a piano for the White House.

When the British were about to invade Washington, President Madison told his wife to flee. Before she left the White House she took time to pack many of the country's valuables including a famous painting of Washington and the Declaration of Independence.

Dolly never lived in the White House again.

James Madison died in 1836.

Later Dolley was forced to sell their home, Montpelier, to pay off her son's gambling debts. She became very poor. The government later gave her a small pension to live on in her later years.

She died when she was 81 on July 12, 1849.


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Sources of Information:

Barden, Cindy,Meet the First Ladies, Lorenz Corp.
Gormley, Beatrice,First Ladies: Women Who Called The White House Home (First Ladies) , Scholastic Paperbacks, 1997
Smith, Carter, Editor,Smithsonian Presidents and First Ladies DK Publishing, New York, 2002

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