Born on May 20 in what is today Guilford County, North Carolina, where her parents, John and Mary Coles Payne, had moved three years earlier to the Quaker settlement of New Garden.
The Paynes return to Virginia.
John Payne manumits his slaves and moves his family to Philadelphia where he opens a business manufacturing laundry starch
John Payne’s business fails. Mary Coles Payne opens a boarding house.
Dolley Payne Todd gives birth to her first child, John Payne Todd, on February 29. John Payne dies on October 24. Dolley’s sister, Lucy, marries George Steptoe Washington, nephew of President George Washington
Birth of Dolley Payne Todd’s second child, William Temple Todd. Outbreak of yellow fever in Philadelphia kills her husband’s parents, her husband, and her second child in October. Dolley removes to the outskirts of the city, and only returns with her son Payne and sister Anna to Philadelphia in December. Mary Coles Payne closes her boarding house and moves in with her daughter Lucy Payne Washington, bringing with her her two youngest children, Mary and John Coles Payne.
Dolley Payne Todd, now a young widow, meets James Madison (JM), congressman from Virginia, in May. The two marry on September 5 at the home of Lucy Payne Washington. That December the Society of Friends reads her out of the Meeting.
Two of her older brothers, William Temple Payne and Isaac Payne, die
JM retires from the U.S. House of Representatives and brings his family (Dolley, Anna, and Payne Todd) back to Montpelier, the Madison plantation in Orange County, Virginia.
Mary Payne, youngest sister of Dolley Payne Todd Madison (DPM), marries Virginia congressman John G. Jackson. Thomas Jefferson is elected president of the United States.
Jefferson appoints James Madison his secretary of state. James Madison’s father dies in February and in June the family moves to Washington, D.C
DPM plays host for presidential dinners, and becomes embroiled in the “Merry Affair” in which diplomacy gets played out through social customs and diplomatic protocols.
Anna Payne marries Richard Cutts, Massachusetts congressman, on March 30.
DPM suffers from an ulcerated knee and spends three and a half months in Philadelphia being treated. JM’s absence from her in October and November is the couples’ longest separation. JM enrolls Payne Todd in Bishop John Carroll’s school in Baltimore.
Mary Coles Payne dies.
Mary Payne Jackson dies.
JM inaugurated fourth president of the United States and DPM becomes Washington’s first First Lady. With the architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe and his wife, Mary Latrobe, DPM begins decorating the White House. She establishes her protocols as social mistress of the administration. George Steptoe Washington dies.
Lucy Payne Washington marries Thomas Todd, Associate Supreme Court Justice, on March 29. It is the first wedding held in the White House. Payne Todd graduates from St. Mary’s College in Baltimore; the Madisons hope to send him to Princeton, JM’s alma mater. June 18, JM sends war message to Congress.
JM inaugurated for his second term as president of the United States. The Madisons send Payne Todd to Europe as secretary to the American peace mission to Britain. JM becomes seriously ill
August 24, the British burn the White House. DPM saves the silver, official papers, the red curtains, and Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of George Washington.