Dolley Madison’s Wednesday Squeezes

Presidential History Blog

It did not start out to be a major event – but it became the benchmark of Washington society for nearly two decades.

Washington 1801:

Portrait of First Lady Martha Washington Martha Washington, the “first” First Lady.

Martha Washington and Abigail Adams, were both in their late fifties when they became First Ladies. They had entertained graciously, albeit very formally, in New York and Philadelphia, as befitting what they believed was their age and position.  Neither had sought, wanted or particularly enjoyed their tenures.

abigail adams-2 Abigail Adams, the “second” First Lady, took her entertainment style from Lady Washington.

But when Thomas Jefferson became President in March, 1801, the capital moved to Washington, DC.  It was a tiny village, muddy, damp, unpaved, unfinished, with houses and businesses far-flung. Along with the new President came James and Dolley Madison. Jefferson and Madison had enjoyed a 25-year close friendship, and Jefferson insisted that his friend and political ally become…

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