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March 20 1812: Dolley Madison Writes to Her Sister Anna

Dolley Madison had three sisters, Anna, Lucy and Mary. She was especially close to Anna who she called her "sister-daughter". On March 20, 1812, Dolley Madison is writing to Anna about the upcoming marriage of their sister Lucy to Thomas Todd, an Associate Supreme Court Justice. Lucy had first married Major George Steptoe Washington, a nephew of George Washington, who had died on January 10, 1809. Lucy will marry Thomas Todd on  on March 29, 1812 in the first wedding to take place in the White House. Nine days earlier, Dolley Madison writes to Anna the following letter [1]

20th. March [1812]

My beloved sister

Before this reaches you Lucy will be married to Judge Todd of Kentucky! Yes, sudden as it is, we must be reconciled to it from her choice of a Man of the most estimable character, best principles, & high talents. He is a widower with five children, one daughter married. The others provided for and not to live with them, residence in Lexington, very near our old fd. Taylor, where there is fine society good schools for her children, in short my dear Anna, tho it breaks my heart to find myself left far from my sister I rejoice at the Husband she will have & the Brother we shall acquire. As a supreme judge he is oblidged to come h[ere] for 2 months every winter & he binds himself to bring her to her fds. when she pleases to come. They have appointed tomorrow week to be married & to go of for Hairwood next day, stay a week & with the Children, proceed to Lexington. Lucy is in deep distress & you may supposes that my grief is not slight. My nights are miserable & so are my days. Jno. is still in his old habits, & will do nothing for himself. He can do nothing but cry & I can scar[cely] refrain [him,] 'or can I realize the event, it has been so expidiciously effected. I can say little else to you at this moment. All is bustle here electioneering yet. De Wit &. &. & The Smiths & I know not who all, intend to break us down. The Federalists affronted to a Man. Not one (I mean of the 2 houses of Congress) will enter Ms door since the communication of (Henry) to Congress except Le Roy Livingston who considers himself attatched by his appt. of Colo. to the Gov. Genl. Dearborn has had a fall which, tho not serious, confines him to his house. I wish you were here [at] this momet. P M is still waiting for her Father Adeiu, I will send you something in a day or 2 & [   ] you shoes & other things from france. I will say little about the extravigance of Mr. Lee the duties charges &&.

1. Parts of the letter are not legible. The transcription is by Mary Cutts at Dolley Madison Project found here. The portrait is by Gilbert Stuart from around 1804 The digital copy is from Wikipedia entry for Dolley Madison

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