||Martha (Dandridge) Washington is a spouse of a US President/Vice President|
Join: US Presidents Project
Martha Dandridge was born June 13 [O.S. June 2] 1731 on the Chestnut Grove Plantation in New Kent County, Virginia.
Martha Washington died 22 May 1802 at Mount Vernon, Fairfax, Virginia  and is buried at Mount Vernon.
She is named for her cousin Martha Dandridge (born 1721).
Martha had no formal education to speak of, but she was trained in the home in sewing, music and how to run a household. It is believed that an indentured servant to the Dandridge family, Thomas Leonard, taught her other things such as plantation management, crop sales, animal husbandry, and homeopathic medicine.
In 1750, She married first to Daniel Parke Custis, with whom she had four children. Two (Daniel and Frances) children died when they were three and four years old respectfully. Her husband died in 1757. When Martha became a widower of Daniel Parke Custis, she became one of the wealthiest women in her part of Virginia.
At White House and in Williamsburg, Custis and his wife enjoyed the life of a wealthy and elite Virginia planter family. They had four children, all given the middle name Parke in order to preserve their eligibility to inherit as descendants of his great-grandfather, Daniel Parke, a member of the Council who had died in 1679. Custis's first son and first daughter died early in childhood. His younger son, John Parke Custis, lived to adulthood and became heir to the Custis wealth and its entangled lawsuits; his second daughter, Martha Parke Custis, died at age seventeen after an epileptic seizure.
When she was 27 years old, Martha Dandridge Custis married Colonel George Washington(1732–1799) on January 6, 1759 at the "White House in New Kent, Virginia,". Colonel George Washington was the commander of the First Virginia Regiment in the French and Indian War, former member, House of Burgess, Frederick County (1758). He would become the first President of the United States of America.
Although there is no known “pre-nuptial” as modern times would equate it, the great inheritance which would come to Washington as a result of his successful courtship of Martha Custis is widely believed to have been a factor in his interest in marrying her.
They lived at estate "Mount Vernon," initially leased from his half-brother Lawrence's widow, and inherited upon her 1761 death.
By first marriage:
By second marriage: None
April 30, 1789 - March 4, 1797 57 years old
Martha did not attend George's first inauguration held in New York; however, she was present at his second held in Philadelphia. She did not particularly care for her role as First Lady, but she was known for holding official receptions every Thursday afternoon at the Executive Mansion.
She was known to financially support and intercede when necessary on the behalf of Revolutionary War veterans who were in need.
Upon Washington's death on December 14, 1799, the slaves owned by the Washingtons were promised their freedom upon Martha Washington's death. Making clear the tremendous personal sacrifice that the federal government asked of her in requesting that she permit the remains of the first president to be eventually interned at the U.S. Capitol Building, she wrote to President John Adams that she would acquiesce with her sense of public duty.
Her home, Mount Vernon, Virginia
1802, May 22
70 years old
Excerpt from an obituary published in the Virginia Gazette on 29 May, 1802:
Burial vault, Mt. Vernon, Virginia
Martha Dandridge Custis Washington (June 2, 1731-May 22, 1802): Widow of George Washington, buried at Mount Vernon Estates.
As the first First Lady, Martha Washington was forever iconized in all forms of commemoration alongside the image of her husband. For many generations, framed pictures of both George and Martha Washington were hung in American classrooms, Martha Washington’s patience, steadiness, optimism and loyalty held up as ideal virtues. Among the numerous engravings and illustrations made to commemorate the life of George Washington, his wife was also almost always depicted alongside him. She was also the first historical woman figure to be depicted by the federal government on postage stamps and currency.
|1731 Birth||1750 Marriage to Custis||1759 Marriage to Washington||1789 1st Lady||1797 End of Presidency||1799 Widowed||1802 Death|
Thanks to Keith Corbett for starting this profile. Click the Changes tab for the details of contributions by Keith and others.
Have you taken a DNA test? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.