The Fisk Metallic Case

On 12 July 1849, at the age of 81, Dolley Madison died at her home on Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C.  A few close friends and relatives attended her at the end, including her nephew James Madison Cutts, who wrote: “Mrs Madison expire[d] at half past 10 O’Clock…July 12th 1849. without…
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Easter at the White House

Behind the current media accounts of the annual Easter Egg Roll and the First Lady, lies a legend that the event is nearly as old as the nation. It is a piece of folklore that grounds the celebration as a national holiday with roots that go back to our founders,…
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Happy Birthday, Dolley

Dolley Payne Todd Madison was born on 20 May 1768. A renowned hostess, Dolley was gracious and outgoing, warm and friendly, and never forgot a face. But there is no evidence that she ever threw a birthday party during the years she was living in Washington, D.C. as wife of…
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In the words of Lila Graham Alliger Woolfall

We recently happened upon a collection of essays by Lila Graham Alliger Woolfall, first published in 1898 under the title "A Pocket History of the Ladies of the White House," and five years later as "Presiding Ladies of the White House," with a section at the end entitled 'Official Etiquette.'…
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Eliza Collins Lee to Dolley Madison

Two days before Dolley Madison became First Lady, she received the following note from her dear friend Eliza Collins Lee, on 2 March 1809: "My dear friend ’Tis but on events most productive of Great pain, or pleasure to you that I am induced to intrude upon your time, sensible…
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The Inauguration of 1809

On 5 March 1809, the day after James Madison’s inauguration, Margaret Bayard Smith described the scene at the inaugural ball the night before: “It was scarcely possible to elbow your way from one side to another, and poor Mrs. Madison was almost pressed to death, for every one crowded round…
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Giving Tuesday

#GivingTuesday brought to mind Dolley Madison's own philanthropic activity back in 1815. Soon after the War of 1812, Dolley was asked to support the proposed Washington City Orphan Asylum. Marcia Van Ness, wife of a former congressman from New York and local real estate developer, and Elizabeth Riley Brown, wife…
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