What painting did dolley madison save

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what painting did dolley madison save

Dolley Madison Saves George Washington by Don Brown

Dolley was a farm girl who became a fine first lady when she married James Madison. She wore beautiful dresses, decorated her home, and threw lavish parties. Everyone talked about Dolley, and everyone loved her, too. Then war arrived at her doorstep, and Dolley had to meet challenges greater than she’d ever known. So Dolley did one thing she thought might make a difference: she saved George Washington. Not the man himself, but a portrait of him, which would surely have been destroyed by English soldiers. Don Brown once again deftly tells a little known story about a woman who made a significant contribution to American history.
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Dolley Madison - Mrs. President - History

Dolly Madison rescued Gilbert Stuart's Washington Portrait from the White House and Dolley Madison's heroic effort to save the celebrated painting. How did Stuart turn the creation of Washington portraits into such a thriving business?.
Don Brown

Dolley Madison

On this day in , first lady Dolley Madison saves a portrait of George Washington from being looted by British troops during the war of He asked her to gather important state papers and be prepared to abandon the White House at any moment. The next day, Dolley and a few servants scanned the horizon with spyglasses waiting for either Madison or the British army to show up. Dolley wrote to her sister on the night of August 23 that a friend who came to help her escape was exasperated at her insistence on saving the portrait. Since the painting was screwed to the wall she ordered the frame to be broken and the canvas pulled out and rolled up.

The Burning of Washington—one of the most note-worthy episodes of the War of —took place years ago, on August 24, After capturing the capital city, the British famously burned many of its most important buildings, including the White House. Rescuing the painting was no simple feat. The eight-foot tall portrait was bolted to the wall of the dining room, making it difficult to move or transport. After the American forces announced their retreat from their position at Bladensburg, Maryland, Charles Carroll rushed to the White House to hurry the first lady to safety. Carroll, has come to hasten my departure, and is in a very bad humor with me because I insist on waiting until the large picture of Gen. Washington is secured, and it requires to be unscrewed from the wall.

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The United States had begun the conflict on June 18, , with no Army worth mentioning and a Navy consisting of a handful of frigates and a fleet of gunboats, most armed with a single cannon. A huge British naval squadron blockaded the American coast. Madison fell ill with malaria and the aged vice president, Elbridge Gerry, grew so feeble that Congress began arguing about who would become president if both men died. The only good news came from victories over lone British warships by the tiny American Navy. Although she was born a Quaker, Dolley saw herself as a fighter.

She was noted for holding Washington social functions in which she invited members of both political parties, essentially spearheading the concept of bipartisan cooperation, albeit before that term was in use, in the United States. While previously, founders such as Thomas Jefferson would only meet with members of one party at a time, and politics could often be a violent affair resulting in physical altercations and even duels, Madison helped to create the idea that members of each party could amicably socialize, network, and negotiate with each other without resulting in violence. Dolley also helped to furnish the newly constructed White House. When the British set fire to it in , she was credited with saving the classic portrait of George Washington ; she directed her personal slave Paul Jennings to save it. He became a fervent follower and they reared their children in the Quaker faith. In , the Paynes had returned to Virginia [5] and young Dolley grew up at her parents' plantation in rural eastern Virginia and became deeply attached to her mother's family.

The story of First Lady Dolley Madison heroically saving a portrait of George Washington as she was being exiled from the White House during the War of has been circulated for centuries. Madison actually instructed an enslaved servant, year-old Paul Jennings, to save the painting. The painting was 8 feet by 5 feet, so getting it off the wall was no easy task. Instead, he had to splinter the wood and cut the canvas out. It worked, and the painting was successfully smuggled out of the White House. All of that risk, all of that effort—and it turns out that the work was a mere copy.


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