Martha Washington

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Martha Custis Washington
1st First Lady of the United States
In office
April 30, 1789 – March 4, 1797
Preceded by None
Succeeded by Abigail Adams
Personal details
Born June 2, 1731(1731-06-02)
Chestnut Grove Plantation, New Kent County, Virginia
Died May 22, 1802(1802-05-22) (aged 70)
Mount Vernon, Virginia
Spouse(s) Daniel Parke Custis (1749-1758)
George Washington (1759-1799)
Relations John Dandridge (father) and Frances Jones (mother)
Children Daniel Parke Custis, Jr., Frances Custis, John Parke "Jacky" Custis, Martha Parke "Patsy" Custis
Occupation First Lady of the United States
Religion Anglican

Martha Dandridge Custis Washington (June 2, 1731 – May 2, 1802) was the wife of George Washington, the first president of the United States. Although the title was not coined until after her death, Martha Washington is considered to be the first First Lady of the United States.

Early life[change | edit source]

She was born Martha Dandridge on June 2, 1731, at Chestnut Grove Plantation near Williamsburg, Virginia.[1] Her education consisted of the womanly arts such as needlework and playing musical instruments. Later in life, she would learn to manage a plantation.

Marriage[change | edit source]

At 18, she married Daniel Parke Custis, a tobacco planter 20 years her senior. She bore him four children. Only two, John "Jacky" and Martha "Patsy", survived to young adulthood. She was widowed in 1757 at age 26. In 1759, she married George Washington, a colonel in the British army. Their marriage was one of mutual affection and respect, but not one of passion. The Washingtons had no biological children.

Personal life[change | edit source]

During the American Revolutionary War, Martha visited the cold and starving Continental troops spending the winter at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. She donated as much food as possible, and sewed clothing for the soldiers. She nursed those who were ill or dying. She urged local women to do the same. Her commitment to the welfare of the veterans of the Revolution would remain lifelong. They addressed her as "Lady Washington."

First Lady[change | edit source]

Washington was unanimously elected president in 1789. Martha served as First Lady from April 30, 1789 to March 4, 1797. She found the job unpleasant. She complained of the journalists who followed her everywhere (even to the circus with her grandson), and of the many restrictions placed upon her as First Lady (she was not allowed to accept dinner invitations, for example).

Personal life[change | edit source]

She set many of the customs and standards that were observed by future First Ladies. She retired to Mount Vernon with her husband after serving her country.

Death[change | edit source]

She died in Mount Vernon on May 22, 1802. Her obituary (death notice) was widely printed in regional newspapers. She is buried in the vault at Mount Vernon. She was the first historical female figure to be depicted by the United States government on postage stamps and currency.[2]

Gallery[change | edit source]

References[change | edit source]