DOLLEY MADISON by Lynda Pflueger


Courageous First Lady
Age Range: 11 - 13
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This latest entry in the Historical American Biographies series is a one-dimensional treatment of the wife of the fourth president of the United States. Pflueger (Stonewall Jackson, 1997) begins by describing how Dolley Madison courageously refused to leave Washington, D.C., in August 1814 when British troops were approaching, intent on saving her husband’s presidential papers and a valuable portrait of George Washington. That vignette is the last evidence—and discussion—of her courage. Dolley was raised as a Quaker and sent to a Quaker school, which was unusual for girls at that time. At her father’s bidding, she married a lawyer, John Todd, but Todd and one of two sons died during a yellow fever epidemic. She was 26 when she married James Madison (he was 43) and became “the sixth member of her family to be disowned by the Society of Friends” for marrying outside her faith. Dolley began wearing stylish clothes to please her husband and also entertained often; Pflueger sums up Dolley Madison’s importance as “our nation’s greatest hostess. She defined the role of First Lady for future presidents’ wives and inspired them with her gracious manners and patriotism.” But what about her father’s bankruptcy and outcast status, or that Dolley’s son was in debtor’s prison, an alcoholic who forged a will in an attempt to contest Dolley’s? These details are glossed over and will leave readers wondering about the superficial treatment of an obviously complex person. (b&w reproductions, maps, chronology, notes, glossary, further reading, index) (Biography. 11-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-7660-1092-9
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: Enslow
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1998


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