Some mistakenly refer to her as Dorothy
. Her namesake has been endlessly debated by different companies which sell baked goods and snack cakes. She was the wife of President James Madison
and the darling
of social culture from Philadelpha
to Washington D.C.
in the mid-1800
s. Her name was Dolley Payne Todd Madison. She always asked people to just call her Dolley
. Born to Virginia settlers John and Mary Coles Payne
, Dolley spent most of her childhood in the Virginia Colony and when she was about twelve her family moved to Quaker
country in Philadelphia
. Her environment was one of restrictive and devout social fabric
. Still, she was always looking for a party.
In 1790, lawyer John Todd Jr. became her first husband, but he died by 1793 of yellow fever, leaving Dolley alone with her son. She didn't mourn long however, for by the early fall 1994, she was betrothed to James Madison. Though he was an episcopalian and she a quaker, and though he was almost two decades older than she, Dolley competently filled the role of wife to a politician who would support her man through eight years as Secretary of State and then his term in the Oval Office in 1809. She was the first First Lady to preside at a Washington Inaugural Ball. She was the key figure in civilized society, and helped to manage the affairs of the White House even before her husband took office.
During the War of 1812, Dolley was forced to flee the White House for it was being invaded by British forces. Before leaving, she insisted a number of priceless heirlooms be taken, placing the historical significance of material possessions in the White House before her own well-being. Among the treasured possessions she ordered secured included a painting of George Washington. When she was able to return to the White House, it had been set afire and laid barren. However though the White House was in need of renovation, she still successfully entertained her husband's appointments with equal skill and vigor. The President's mansion became wherever his First Lady held court, and didn't require a building.
After his term as president, the Madisons retired to her childhood home of Virginia. Her second husband and the USA's fourth president died in 1836. Unable to retain their estate, Dolley returned to the nation's capitol in late 1837 and friends insured she was cared for despite her more meager means. Though age and weakened finances diminished her position in society, she was still honored and loved by all who met and knew her. Her quiet optimism and sparkling blue eyes laughing in the face of uncertainty was a timeless beacon of courage and serendipity. After her death, her name became the key issue of an ongoing debate between corporations who insisted upon placing her name to their products and services, most notably the Dolly Madison Bakery and their various snack cakes. This issue has been brought before both Canada and United States supreme courts, and the questions of copyright litigation as of 1998 were still under appeal.