Dolley Madison
The person that I am doing my "I Am Project" on is Dolley Madison, First Lady; married to James Madison the 4th president of America. Prior to research I only knew that Dolley Madison was a First Lady that acted in a courageous manner during the War of 1812, although I did not know at that time, what it was that she had done. Whilst I was conducting research on Dolley Madison to find more information I had several questions that seemed interesting to me such as:

- How / When / Why did Dolley Madison change? As it states that she had a strict Quaker upbringing (as her father was a Quaker) and so was taught and brought up to be plain etc. However as an adult she was well known for her gaudy clothes and outgoing / sparkling personality. What is it that brought on this change? However on the websites that I conducted my research on there was no description of this, as this part of her life is not mentioned/
- How and why did she stay behind during the War of 1812? Because she stayed behind when the British invaded Washington D.C. and did not leave until vital state documents were saved and even rescued a picture of George Washington. When she stayed behind how much danger was she in? Also what could you compare this to in the modern day?
- What did people thing about her when she continued to go to parties etc. after her husband had died? After her husband died she continued on with her social life and attended many social functions. It was at a party that she met her next husband James Madison. But I think that because of this her reputation must have suffered for some time, because it is not the sort of behavior that you would usually expect from sombody who just lost their husband.

My primary historical question is:

"How did Dolley Madison cope with the death of her first husband?"


Primary Sources




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Letter written by Dolley Madison

  • "I would rather fight with my hands than my tongue."
  • "It is one of my sources of happiness never to desire a knowledge of other people's business."
  • "Disaffection stalks around us."