Description: MADISON, DOLLEY PAYNE TODD. (1768-1849). First lady; wife of the fourth president of the United States, James Madison. Free Frank. (“Free D.P. Madison”). 1p. Oblong 12mo. (Orange Court House, Virginia, February 25, N.y. [circa 1837]). A franked address panel removed from a letter sent to her niece, companion and biographer MARY ESTELLE ELIZABETH CUTTS (1814-1856), on the verso of which Dolley has penned, “Since writing the within I conclude to request you will show it to Mr. Preston.” ********** It was Aaron Burr who, in 1794, introduced the recently widowed Dolley Payne to James Madison, “The Father of the Constitution” and author of the Bill of Rights. Despite his not being a Quaker, and a 17-year age difference, Dolley married the Virginia Founding Father and congressman several months after they first met. James retired from politics in 1797, only to become Thomas Jefferson’s secretary of state three years later. As Jefferson was a widower, Dolley acted as his hostess, and helped furnish the newly constructed White House while becoming known for her generous hospitality. Upon her husband’s election as president in 1808, she became the country’s official first lady and set the standard for that role. During the British burning of the White House in 1814, she heroically saved a portrait of George Washington by ordering the canvas removed from its frame. ********** Mary Cutts was the daughter of Dolley’s youngest sister Anna and her husband, Massachusetts Congressman Richard Cutts. Following James Madison’s death in 1836, Mary served as Dolley’s companion and authored her biography, entitled The Queen of America. ********** The postmark of Orange Court House indicates that Dolley sent our letter while living at the Madison plantation Montpelier, located several miles outside of town, where she resided beginning in 1797 and, after the conclusion of her husband’s second term, until 1837, when she moved back to Washington. In 1844, she sold the plantation to pay off her profligate son’s debts. ********** Written on lined paper. Lightly folded and in fine condition.
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