Dolley Madison

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Before Dolley Madison became famous for her marriage to President James Madison, the spectacular parties and the political rallies, she lived with her family in a Quaker settlement in New Garden, North Carolina. Dolley Madison was born May 20, 1768 to John Payne Jr. and Mary Coles Payne. Dolley had four brothers and three sisters. It was a full house but Dolley liked having siblings.

While Dolley was still in her teens and after the Revolutionary war in 1783 the family freed their slaves and sold their plantation based on religious beliefs, and moved to Philadelphia. There Dolley's father started his own business. Dolley was not as happy without servants and a large plantation. Also, because of unpaid debt for her father's new business, the family was shunned by the Quaker community and leaders. This was the first time the beautiful Dolley began to question her place in the Quaker society. She was very attractive and charismatic, and women in this kind of community were not supposed to draw attention to themselves.

Dolley's father was very happy when he was able to arrange the marriage of his daughter to Mr. John Todd, a Lawyer in Philadelphia. Dolley was not thrilled with the arrangement but knew that Mr. Todd was a good man. Even more important was her desire to be obedient to her father. Not long after the marriage Dolley had her first of two sons, Payne and William. The marriage did not last long before tragedy struck. A yellow fever plague struck Philadelphia, and all though Dolley took her children and moved to the outskirts of town, the whole family got sick. After Dolley had recovered she found herself grieving from the death of her husband and her youngest son, William.

Now that she was single and raising her young son many men in the community were drawn to her beauty. She began to dress in a more popular fashion and this drew the eye of a well known politician, James Madison. James ask Senator Aaron Burr, who had stayed with the Payne's, to...
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