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|Martha Washington aka Martha Dandridge|
|First Lady of the United States|
April 30, 1789 – March 4, 1797
|Succeeded by||Abigail Adams|
|Born||June 2, 1731(1731-06-02)
Chestnut Grove, New Kent County, Virginia, U.S.
|Died||May 22, 1802(1802-05-22) (aged 70)
Mount Vernon, Virginia, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Daniel Parke Custis (1750-1757)
George Washington (1759-1799)
|Relations||John Dandridge and Frances Jones|
|Children||Daniel Parke Custis, Jr., Frances Custis, John Parke "Jacky" Custis, Martha Parke "Patsy" Custis|
|Occupation||First Lady of the United States|
Martha Dandridge Custis Washington (June 2, 1731 – May 22, 1802) was the wife of George Washington, the first president of the United States. Although the title was not coined until after her death, Martha Washington is considered to be the first First Lady of the United States. During her lifetime, she was known as "Lady Washington".
Martha Dandridge was born at 10:35 a.m. on June 2, 1731 on her parents' plantation Chestnut Grove in the British colonial Province of Virginia. She was the oldest daughter of Virginia planter and immigrant from England John Dandridge (1700–1756) and Frances Jones (1710–1785) of English, Welsh and English descent. Martha had three brothers and four sisters, the others being John Dandridge (1733–1749), William Dandridge (1734–1776), Bartholomew Dandridge (1737–1785), Anna Marie "Fanny" Dandridge Bassett (1739–1777), Frances Dandridge (1744–1757), Elizabeth Dandridge Aylet Henley (1749–1800), and Mary Dandridge (1756–1763). She may have had an illegitimate half-sister (date of birth unknown), who was a slave: Ann Dandridge Costin was one-quarter African, one-quarter Cherokee Indian, and half-white. There is further evidence of an illegitimate half-brother Ralph Dandridge (date of birth unrecovered), who was probably white.
On May 15, 1750 at age 18 she married Daniel Parke Custis, a rich planter two decades her senior. They lived at White House Plantation on the south shore of the Pamunkey River, a few miles upriver from Chestnut Grove. She had four children by Custis. A son and a daughter, Daniel (1751–1754) and Frances (1753–1757), died in childhood, but two other children, John (Jacky) Parke Custis (1754–1781) and Martha ("Patsy") Parke Custis (1756–1773) survived to young adulthood. Daniel Custis' death in 1757 left Martha a rich widow, with independent control over a dower inheritance for her lifetime and trustee control over the inheritance of her minor children.
Martha Dandridge Custis, aged 27, and George Washington, aged nearly 27, married on January 6, 1759 at the White House plantation. It seems likely that Washington had known Martha and her husband for some time. In March 1758 he visited her at White House twice; the second time he came away with either an engagement of marriage or at least her promise to think about his proposal. She was, at the time, also being courted by the wealthy planter Charles Carter.
Their wedding was a grand affair. The groom appeared in a suit of blue and silver with red trimming and gold knee buckles; the bride wore purple silk shoes with spangled buckles. After the Reverend Peter Mossum pronounced them man and wife, the couple honeymooned at White House for several weeks before setting up housekeeping at Washington's Mount Vernon estate. Their marriage appears to have been a solid one, untroubled by infidelity or clash of temperament.
Martha and George Washington had no children together, but they raised Martha's two surviving children. Her teenage daughter, named Patsy, died during an epileptic seizure, which led John (Jackie) to return home from college to comfort his mother. John later served as an aide to Washington during the siege of Yorktown in 1781, and died during this military service, probably of typhus. After his death, the Washingtons raised two of John's children, Eleanor Parke Custis (March 31, 1779 - July 15, 1852), and George Washington Parke Custis (April 30, 1781 - October 10, 1857). They also provided personal and financial support to nieces, nephews and other family members in both the Dandridge and Washington families.
MORE INFO Click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martha_Washington
After the Washingtons returned to Mount Vernon, their granddaughter Nelly married George's nephew, Lawrence Lewis. Nelly's first child, Frances Parke Lewis, was born at Mount Vernon. Less than three weeks later, George Washington died, December 14, 1799, after suffering a severe cold. Martha moved out of their bedroom and into a third floor garret room and lived in seclusion, seen only by a few of the remaining slaves and Nelly and her family. Martha Washington burned all but two of the letters she and her husband had exchanged.
Martha Washington lived until May 22, 1802. Martha Washington is buried with her husband in a tomb at Mount Vernon.
George Washington Parke Custis' daughter, Mary Custis Lee, married Robert E. Lee. A part of the Custis estate which had passed through George Washington Parke Custis to his son-in-law was confiscated by the federal government during the Civil War, though the United States Supreme Court eventually found that the government had to reimburse the family.
When a ship was named the USS Lady Washington in 1776, it became the first US military ship to be named for a woman and was the only ship the Continental Navy named for a woman.
In 1901, Martha Washington became the first woman whose image was depicted on a US postage stamp.
READ MORE Click here: http://womenshistory.about.com/od/1stladywashing/p/biography.htm
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