Martha Washington

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  • Born: June 21, 1731
  • Married: May 22, 1802
  • Children: 4 (Daniel, Frances, John, Martha)

Previous Occupations

(None)

Brief Biography

Oldest daughter of John and Frances Dandridge, she was born June 2, 1731, on a plantation near Williamsburg. Typical for a girl in an 18th-century family, her education was almost negligible except in domestic and social skills, but she learned all the arts of a well-ordered household and how to keep a family contented.

As a girl of 18--about five feet tall, dark-haired, gentle of manner--she married the wealthy Daniel Park Custis. Two babies died; two were hardly past infancy when her husband died in 1757.

From the day Martha married George Washington in 1759, her great concern was the comfort and happiness of her husband and children. When his career led him to the battlegrounds of the Revolutionary War and finally to the Presidency, she followed him bravely. Her love of private life equaled her husband's; but, as she wrote to her friend Mercy Otis Warren, " I cannot blame him for having acted according to his ideas of duty in obeying the voice of his country." As for herself, "I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances."

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