Dolley Payne Todd Madison (May 20, 1768 – July 12, 1849) was the spouse of the fourth President of the United States, James Madison, and was First Lady of the United States from 1809 to 1817. She also occasionally acted as First Lady during the administration of Thomas Jefferson, fulfilling the ceremonial functions more usually associated with the President's wife, since Jefferson was a widower.
Spelling of name
In the past, biographers and others stated that her real name was Dorothea after her Aunt, or Dorothy and Dolley was a nickname. However, the registry of her birth with the New Garden Friends Meeting lists her name as Dolley and her will of 1841 states "I, Dolley p. Madison". Based on manuscript evidence and the scholarship of her recent biographers, Dollie, spelled with an E, appears to have been her given name.
Early life and first marriage
Dolley Payne was born on May 20, 1768, in the Quaker settlement of New Garden, North Carolina, in Guilford County. Her parents, both Virginians, had moved there in 1765. Her mother, Mary Cole, a Quaker, married John Payne, a non-Quaker, in 1761. Three years later, he applied and was admitted to the Quaker Monthly Meeting in Hanover County, Virginia, and Dolley Payne was raised in the Quaker faith.
Dolley was one of 8 children, four boys (Walter, William Temple, Isaac, and John) and four girls (Dolley, Lucy, Anna, and Mary). In 1769, the family returned to Virginia. As a young girl, she grew up in comfort in rural eastern Virginia, deeply attached to her mother's family.
In 1783, John Payne emancipated his slaves and moved his family to Philadelphia, where he went into business as a starch merchant. By 1789, however, his business had failed. He died in 1792. Dolley's mother initially made ends meet by opening a boarding house. A year later she moved to western Virginia to live with her daughter Lucy, who had married George Steptoe Washington, a nephew of George Washington. Mary Coles Payne took her two youngest children, Mary and John, with her. By then, Dolley Payne had married Quaker lawyer John Todd in January 1790. Their son, John Payne Todd, was born in 1792 and William Temple Todd in 1793. Her sister Anna lived with the Todds as well.
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