By Dana Edwards, JMI Intern and Creator of the 2009 National History Fair Dolley Madison Documentary
Many young adults do not feel comfortable voting due to a lack of knowledge and understanding of political issues and how they affect them. In order to meet the responsibilities of citizenship, it is extremely important for Americans to be familiar with basic historical information regarding the development of our government and political system as well as current events. Dolley Madison has much to teach us in this regard despite the fact that as a woman, she was not allowed to vote or have a direct voice in American politics. Realizing the importance of preserving pieces of our infant nation’s fledgling history for future generations, Dolley courageously saved many documents and historical artifacts when evacuating the White House during the War of 1812, including the famed Gilbert Stuart painting of George Washington. As a skilled diplomat and hostess, Mrs. Madison established many American customs and legacies now utilized in today’s politics, including learning to work through diverse issues in a bipartisan manner, and set the social standards for future First Ladies to follow.
Dolley’s influence had an immense impact on the lives and policies of the politicians of her day and helped to create American History. She knew all of America’s Founding Fathers: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and, of course, James Madison. According to Holly Shulman, Dolley Madison historian from the University of Virginia, if Mrs. Madison had lived during our current time, she would have more power than current female politicians such as Hillary Clinton.
Dolley Payne Todd Madison
May 20, 1768 – July 12, 1849