Tags: Presidential History | martha washington | causes | first lady

Martha Washington: The Causes That Defined President George Washington's First Lady

By    |   Thursday, 18 Jun 2015 06:51 PM

As the first "first lady" of the United States, Martha Washington’s partnership with her husband, George Washington, set a standard upon which the women who followed her would build.

She served her post with dignity and was popular, not only for her service to war veterans, but also as a model of grace and generosity for the nation.

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Martha was a young and wealthy widow with small children when she married George Washington in 1759. Though she would have been a good catch for many men, due to the extensive land holdings Martha had inherited from her deceased husband, the Mount Vernon website noted the match with Washington was one of love and trust.

During the Revolutionary War, Martha supported her husband, and she understood George Washington’s command over the Continental Army thrust her into a public role. During winter breaks in the fighting, Martha would take the time to join her husband at camp for extended periods of time, the Mount Vernon website said. George Washington considered her presence vital to the war effort, boosting his own morale and that of the whole camp. She suffered alongside the soldiers at Valley Forge, working for provisions during the freezing difficult winter.

When George Washington became the first president of the newly formed United States, Martha Washington moved to the country’s temporary capital in New York City. She transitioned to city life and a new set of social pressures. Her cause was to develop a template of behavior that might influence the first ladies who would come after. To that end, she set a precedence of entertaining in weekly receptions and events to welcome dignitaries, the website said. She intentionally brought together political adversaries in social settings.

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The National First Ladies Library said that, even before her official role as "First Lady" began, soldiers called Martha Washington, "Lady Washington" due to the generosity she showed them during the Revolutionary War. While she handled the pressures of official duties connected with being the wife of the President of the United States with grace, she was reportedly lonely in New York and was happy when the capital moved to Philadelphia on 1790.

Among her long-term causes was that of the Revolutionary War Veterans. After forging a relationship with many veterans during the war, Martha Washington continued to advocate for war veterans in need, even providing financial assistance.

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As the first "first lady" of the United States, Martha Washington’s partnership with her husband, George Washington, set a standard upon which the women who followed her would build.
martha washington, causes, first lady
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2015-51-18
Thursday, 18 Jun 2015 06:51 PM
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