“I give my Hand … “

Dolley Payne Todd Madison is the topic for the third episode in the C-SPAN series First Ladies which airs today, March 11, at 9pm ET. Dolley Payne, a Quaker, was married to lawyer John Todd, Jr. in 1790. Sadly she lost her husband and baby William in the yellow fever epidemic that struck Philadelphia in 1793. Left with a son, John Payne Todd, Dolley, age 26, was courted by James Madison, age 43. Her aunt Catharine T. Coles assured her that Madison

thinks so much of you in the day that he has Lost his Tongue, at Night he Dreames of you & Starts in his Sleep a Calling on you to relieve his Flame for he Burns to such an excess that he will be shortly consumed … he has consented to every thing that I have wrote about him with Sparkling Eyes.

On September 16, 1794, Dolley told her friend Elizabeth Collins Lee in Virginia of her impending marriage.

As a proof my dearest Eliza of that confidence & friendship which has never been interrupted between us I have stolen from the family to commune with you—to tell you in short, that in the cource of this day I give my Hand to the Man who of all other’s I most admire—You will not be at a loss to know who this is as I have been long ago gratify’d In haveing your approbation—In this Union I have everything that is soothing and greatful in prospect—& my little Payne will have a generous & tender protector.
A Settlement of all my real property with a considerable Adition of Money is made upon him with Mr. M—’s approbation. …
But how shall I express the anxiety I feel to see you? That friend whose goodness, at many interresting periods I have greatfully experienced would now rejoice us by the sight of her. …
Adeiu! Adeiu.
Dolley Payne ToddEvening.
Dolley Madisson! Alass!

Quoted material appears on page 190 of In the Words of Women. The portrait is by Gilbert Stuart (1804) and is part of The White House Historical Association (White House Collection).

posted March 11th, 2013 by Janet, CATEGORIES: Children, Courtship, Death, Epidemics, Marriage

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