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Encounters 20, A Final Assessment

March 15, 2017

Her face does not appear on any dollar bill, nor does her name grace any city or town, but no first lady can replace Martha Washington as the 1st First Lady. As reluctant as she was to enter the public domain, she carried the burden as well as anyone possibly could, not on the coat tails of her husband, but as an intelligent caring helpmate. How could any man or president want a better partner?

Was it love at first sight? Probably for her, but too much is made of fancy. (see 10) While still a teen, Patsy Dandridge met and married the older Daniel Custis and bore four children, witnessing the deaths of two  infants. When Daniel died after seven years of a happy marriage, she took the domestic reins in her capable hands, managing the estate she and her remaining children inherited. A wealthy widow, she had many suitors and was expected to choose one

George was infatuated with a lady, Sally Fairfax, married to a neighbor and friend. Sally enjoyed the flirtation and encouraged it, but they both knew the relationship could go nowhere without alienating society. Probably he realized it was time to grow up and give up Sally.

He met and courted the pretty wealthy widow. She had all the characteristics a man needed to be happy in a marriage, and he was smart enough to encourage her as a full partner…none of this 18th century “women are less” garbage. Fully appreciated, she followed him to the ends of the earth; Philadelphia, New York, and New England, keeping him warm, well-fed, and happy.

Circumstances! Like a cheerleader, she appreciated his capabilities. A revolution, a new government and a presidency, her husband was needed in the games. She knew she was essential to his well-being. Her contributions to history are intricately tied to his accomplishments. Yet, she brought her own dignity and charm to her role as wife of the President of the United States.

Martha Washington, the first of 45 first ladies, each woman whether daughter, sister, or wife contributed to the first man. How important these women are!

I am indebted to biographer Paricia Brady, and her book Martha Washington, An American Life and to Wikipedia for the information in these blogs.

I hope what has interested me has interested you.     Please stay tuned for new topics.


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