Who was Martha Washington?
Martha Dandridge was born on June 2, 1731, in New Kent County, Virginia. She grew up in a traditional 18th-century household and received an education that focused on domestic skills and academics. When she was 18, she married Daniel Parke Custis, a wealthy plantation owner who was significantly older than her. Together, they had four children, but two of them died in infancy.
In 1757, Martha became a widow when Custied died, leaving her with substantial wealth and the responsibility of caring for their two surviving children. It was during this time that she caught the attention of a rising military and political figure named George Washington.
Martha and George Washington were married on January 6, 1759, marking the beginning of their lifelong partnership. As George’s military and political career progressed, Martha supported him both privately and publicly. During the American Revolutionary War, she joined him at military encampments such as Valley Forge, Morristown, and Newburgh.
After the war and the ratification of the United States Constitution, George Washington was elected as the First President of the United States. Martha, known as the First Lady, embraced her role as a gracious hostess and supported her husband during his presidency. She lived with him in New York City and then Philadelphia.
Following his second term as president, Martha and George retired to Mount Vernon. Unfortunately, President Washington passed away in 1799, leaving Martha a widow for the second time. She outlived her husband by a few years and passed away on May 22, 1802, in the presence of her granddaughter.
Why is Martha Washington important to the history of the United States?
Martha Washington is important to United States history because of the role she played as the wife of George Washington, the first President of the United States. During the American Revolutionary War, she supported her husband, joining him at military encampments and helping provide comfort to the soldiers. As the nation’s first First Lady, she established the social customs and expectations for the position.