Martha Washington: First Lady of the United States (1789 – 1797)
Born: June 2, 1731 at Chestnut Grove, Virginia
Died: May 22, 1802 (aged 70) at Mount Vernon, Virginia
Spouse: Daniel Custis (m. 1750 – 1757), George Washington (m. 1759 – 1799)
Children: She had 4 children with Daniel Custis
Facts about Martha Washington
Unlike most women in Virginia in the early 1700’s, Martha learned to read and write. When she married for the second time to George Washington, she was one of the wealthiest women in Virginia. She outlived all of her children. Martha was the Nation’s first First Lady.
Moreover, the plantation were Martha lived with Daniel Custis was called the “White House” plantation. One of her most important steps was to initiate a weekly reception, held on Friday evenings, for anyone who would like to attend.
Furthermore, she helped organize a huge donation campaign known as “the offering of the Ladies” which mostly went towards clothing for the colonial soldiers. She personally donated $20,000 dollars, a huge sum for that day, of her own money. Also, at receptions and social events in her home, no politics were permitted.
During the war, Martha would travel to visit George at the Continental Army’s winter camp. She spent the winter months working as George’s secretary and entertaining important guests. She freed George Washington’s slaves almost one year after his death.
Mrs. Washington is the only woman (other than allegories of Justice, Liberty, etc.) depicted on the face of a United States Banknote.
Martha Dandridge Custis Washington Childhood
Martha Dandridge was born on June 2, 1731 on her parents’ plantation Chestnut Grove in the British colony, Province of Virginia. She was the oldest daughter of John Dandridge (1700–1756), a Virginia planter and immigrant from England, by his wife Frances Jones (1710–1785), who was of American birth and English, Welsh, and French descent. Martha had three brothers and four sisters.
In addition, some of Martha Washington’s favorite childhood activities included dancing, riding horses, tree climbing, sewing and playing the spinet. Also, she later enjoyed reading and writing, which many women of her time did not learn to do.
Martha may have had an illegitimate half-sister, Ann Dandridge Costin who was born into slavery; Costin’s enslaved mother was of African and Cherokee descent, and her father was believed to be John Dandridge. Finally, Martha’s father may also have fathered an out-of-wedlock half-brother to Martha named Ralph Dandridge, who was probably white.
Where is Martha Dandridge Custis Washington buried?
Following her death, Martha is interred in George Washington’s tomb vault at Mount Vernon. In 1831, the surviving executors of Washington’s estate removed the bodies of George and Martha Washington and those of other members of the family from the old vault to a similar structure within the present enclosure at Mount Vernon.
How did Martha Dandridge Custis Washington die?
Two and a half years after the death of her husband, Martha died on May 22, 1802 at the age of 70, at Mount Vernon, Virginia.