Wife of the First President of the United States
1732 – 1802 A.D.
Martha Washington, wife of the first President of the United States, was born in the county of New Kent, colony of Virginia, and was the daughter of Col. John Dandridge.
At seventeen years of age, or in 1749, Miss Dandridge was married to Col. Daniel Parke Custis. The fruits of this marriage were four children, two of whom died early, while a daughter and son survived. Martha dying at Mt. Vernon in 1770, which John perished of camp-fever at the siege of Yorktown, 1781. On the decease of her husband, about 1755, Mrs. Custis found herself at once a very young, and among the wealthiest widows in the colony.
It was in 1758 that she met Col. George Washington, who seems to have fallen in love with the charming widow at first sight; after a short engagement, the marriage took place on January 6, 1759, and Col. and Mrs. Washington removed to Mount Vernon on the Potomac, and permanently settled there.
The marriage was a happy one, though childless. During the years of the war for independence, Lady Washington, such being the appellation she always bore in the army, preserved her equanimity, together with a degree of cheerfulness that inspired all around her in those trying times. She frequently accompanied the general in his campaigns, and witnessed the siege and evacuation of Boston. After the peace of 1783 Mrs. Washington lived at Mt. Vernon until 1789 when the general assumed his office as the first president, and Martha Washington her place as the first mistress of the White House, where during the next eight years she presided with dignity and grace.
In 1799, two years after their retirement to private life, George Washington died of a cold in Mt. Vernon, and three years later Martha succumbed to a fever, and lies buried beside her distinguished husband.
An early writer says:
“Few females have ever figured in the great drama of life, amid scenes so varied and imposing, Identified with the Father of this Country in the great events which led to the establishmet of a nation’s independence, often at his side in that awful period, Martha Washington’s cheerfulness soothed his anxieties, her firmness inspired confidence, while her devotional piety enabled her to discern a ray of hope amid the darkness.
Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.