Woman of the Century/Martha Washington
WASHINGTON, Mrs. Martha, wife of George Washington, first President of the United States, born in New Kent county, Va., in May, 1732, and died in Mount Vernon, Va., 22nd May, 1802. She was a daughter of Colonel John Dandridge, a wealthy planter. She was educated by private teachers. She was an accomplished performer on the spinet, and her education covered all the branches usually learned by the young women of her day. In 1747 she was introduced to the vice-regal court. during the administration of Sir William Gooch. In June, 1749, she became the wife of Daniel Parke Custis, a wealthy planter. They settled in Mr. Custis' home, the "White House," on Pamunkey river, where they lived a life of refinement in the Virginia fashion. Four children were born to them, two of whom died in infancy. Mr. Custis died in 1757, leaving his widow one of the wealthiest women in Virginia. In the following year Mrs. Custis met George Washington, then a colonel, and in May, 1758, they became engaged. They were married in January. 1759, after Colonel Washington returned from his northern campaign. After their brilliant wedding, they settled in Mount Vernon, and for seventeen years they lived in the style of aristocratic English people, entertaining much and taking UK-lead in all social affairs. Mrs. Washington sympathized with her husband in his patriotic resistance to British oppression and injustice. After he was made commander-in-chief, her life was full of care In 1775 she joined him in Cambridge, Mass., and afterward accompanied him to New York and Philadelphia, and joined him in camp wherever it was possible. During the severe winter in Valley Forge she shared the privations of the soldiers and worked daily from morning till night, providing comforts for the sick soldiers. During the war she discarded her rich dresses and wore only garments spun and woven by her servants in Mount Vernon. At a ball in New Jersey, given in her honor, she wore a homespun suit. She left the camp for the last time when General Washington was stationed in Newburg, N. Y., in 1782. When she became mistress of the executive mansion in New York City, she was fifty-seven years old, and was still a beautiful woman of dignity and sauvity of manner. Her social regime was brilliant in the extreme. During President Washington's second term they lived in Philadelphia. She disliked official life and was pleased when, in 1796, President Washington refused a third election to the presidency. They retired to Mount Vernon, where they lived the rest of their days. Before her death she destroyed her entire correspondence with her husband, not wishing that their confidences should be seen by other eyes.