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Martha Washington
Date: 1731 - 1802
Remarks: A native Virginian, Martha Dandridge at age 27 married George Washington in 1759, following the death of her first husband, Daniel Parke Custis in 1757, who had left her a sizable fortune and with whom she had four children; only two of these children survived infancy. Martha and George did not have children together, but her children and later her grandchildren were an important part of their lives. George even adopted two of her grandchildren. Martha's great concern throughout her marriage to Washington was the comfort and happiness of her family. She dutifully followed him to the battlegrounds of the Revolutionary War and to the Presidency. As First Lady of the new nation, Martha was revered as a tactful, discrete, and gracious hostess during her husband's eight years in office. Indeed, she insisted that her title as "First Lady" be simplified to "Mrs. Washington." Her love of private life equaled her husband's, yet, as she wrote to her friend Mercy Otis Warren, "I cannot blame him for having acted according to his ideas of duty in obeying the voice of his country." As for herself, she wrote, "I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances." After Washington's presidency, the couple retired to Mount Vernon, their estate in Virginia.