Designed by graphic artist Meneese Wall, this beautiful portrait and accompanying biography recognizes First Lady Dolley Madison.
Dolley Payne was born on May 20, 1768, in North Carolina. She married Philadelphia lawyer John Todd on January 7, 1790, and gave birth to two sons, John Payne and William. In August 1793, John Todd and little William died in a yellow fever outbreak. The following year she met and married James Madison. They lived in Philadelphia and at Madison’s Montpelier plantation in Virginia, before Madison's appointment as secretary of state took them to Washington, D.C. During this time, Dolley Madison often took on the role of White House hostess for President Thomas Jefferson, receiving his guests at dinners and events. Once James Madison became president in 1809, Mrs. Madison continued to preside over the city's growing social scene until August 1814 when the British burned the White House. At the conclusion of Madison’s presidency in 1817, the couple retired to Montpelier. Following her husband’s death in 1836, she found herself in difficult financial circumstances. After selling her husband’s papers and Montpelier, she moved back to Washington, D.C., in 1844 where she continued to entertain prominent members of society. Dolley Madison died on July 12, 1849, at the age of eighty-one.