First Ladies – Dolley Madison


Dolley Payne Todd Madison


  • Born at Guilford County, North Carolina, May 20, 1768
  • Married John Todd, January 7, 1790
  • Had two son, John Payne Todd, (1792-1852), William Isaac Todd, (1793)
  • John Todd died on October 14, 1793 in a yellow fever epidemic. Their son died on the same day.
  • Married James Madison on September 15, 1794
  • They lived in Washington DC 1801-1809 when James Madison was Secretary of State under Thomas Jefferson
  • During this time Thomas Jefferson asked her to aide him by being the hostess at dinners and receptions.
  • First Lady from March 4, 1809 to March 3, 1817
  • She aided James Madison in organizing his papers that he used while creating the US Constitution for public release.
  • In 1844 she moved to Washington DC to live in a home across from the White House. First Ladies, Julia Tyler and Sarah Polk, as well as the hostess for the invalid first Mrs. Tyler, her daughter-in-law Priscilla Cooper Tyler all sought her advice on their role as a First Lady.
  • Her last public appearance was at James K Polk’s last White House reception.
  • She died on July 12, 1849
  • Interesting facts
    She took a public role in fundraising for the exploration of the Louisiana Purchase by Lewis and Clark.
    Her popularity from being hostess during Jefferson’s presidency added to the recognition of her husband by members of Congress whose elector votes selected the president.

    Focus while in the White House
    She saw that the public was her constituency as much as they were to her husband. She is the first First Lady to take a role in public projects. She was a supporter and helped to found a home for orphaned girls.


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