Strength and Honor: The Life of Dolley Madison

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Strength and Honor: The Life of Dolley Madison

Author: Richard N. Cote
Publisher: Corinthian Books
Copyright: 2005
Pages: 444
Cover Price: $ 29.95

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Born a sprightly Quaker farm girl in the North Carolina wilderness, Dolley Payne became a wife, a mother, and soon a grieving young widow as yellow fever decimated her family. Then fate led her to James Madison, father of the Constitution, a future president, and the dearest love of her life. "Our hearts understand each other, " she wrote to him in 1805. Her enthusiasm was infectious. When eminent statesman Henry Clay exclaimed, "Everybody loves Mrs. Madison," she responded, "That's because Mrs. Madison loves everybody " Dolley's immense warmth, effervescence, tact, and popularity were acknowledged even by her husband's political opponents. In 1808, Federalist presidential candidate Charles C. Pinckney lamented, "I was beaten by Mr. and Mrs. Madison. I might have had a better chance had I faced Mr. Madison alone." The personal heroism she displayed when the British attacked Washington during the War of 1812, and the courage and integrity that characterized her entire life, made her an extraordinary role model.

By the time of her death at the age of eighty-one in 1849, she was one of the most-acclaimed, most-loved women in nineteenth-century America. Based on more than 2,000 of Dolley Payne Todd Madison's letters, this intimate portrait explores the mind, heart, and brave journey of a vivacious, dedicated woman, who triumphed over adversity, poverty, and tragedy to help build the new American republic and define the role of First Lady of the land.

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Background Information

Quakers, also known as Friends, are a religious group that arose in England whose adherents are noted for their simplicity of living and pacifism. North Carolina, part of the Deep South, was the scene of important battles in the Revolutionary and Civil wars. Dolley Madison was a young widow when she married James Madison. She is best remembered for saving important items from the White House before the British burned it. Henry Clay of Kentucky was known as the Great Compromiser for his efforts to preserve the Union during the national controversy over slavery. The War of 1812 began in 1812 and ended with the Battle of New Orleans some time after the signing of peace in Paris.