National Historical Publications & Records Commission

Selected Letters of Dolley Madison

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Dolley Madison, 1804, by Gilbert Stuart. Courtesy White House Historical Association.


University of Virginia

Additional information at and at

Dolley Payne Todd Madison (1768 –1849) was the spouse of the fourth President of the United States, James Madison, and arguably the most important First Lady of the 19th century. She was notable for her social gifts and helped define the role of the First Lady. Her success as a hostess contributed to increasing the popularity of Madison as president. She also aided in the completion and furnishing the interior of the newly constructed White House and is known for saving a portrait of George Washington during the British invasion during the War of 1812. The Madison lived in retirement at Montpelier in Virginia, but when James Madison died, she returned to Washington, where she lived supported by friends. The NHPRC funded The Selected letters of Dolley Payne Madison, a single volume edition. The Dolley Madison Digital Edition will be the first-ever complete edition of all of her known correspondence. As of July 2018 it is complete through 1848, with a total of 2672 documents.


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