Monday, March 01, 2010

PBS American Experience: "Dolley Madison"

On Monday, March 1, 2010, some PBS stations presented the “American Experience” documentary “Dolley Madison”, about the “first” First Lady, and wife of the fourth president.

The link with videos is here.

Dolley is credited with having made Washington an important city socially. She was First Lady when the British burned Washington, including the White House, in 1814. Only a huge thunderstorm quenched the fire. Many in Congress wanted to move the capital to Philadelphia, but Dolley was instrumental in keeping the capital here and rebuilding Washington.

After James Madison’s death, Dolley fell into debt, and had to sell of Montpelier, bit by bit, to pay off debts, mismanaged by her son of a first marriage. She even had to sell off slaves, against her husband’s will. Eventually she would move back to Washington and spend the last twelve years of her life in a changed city, as the time of the Civil War would approach.

Picture: I visited Montpelier in April 2006, during its restoration. It is reachable off US 29 north of Charlottesville.

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