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"...tells Martha′s story with a seductive mix of relish, insight and scholarship..." (Camden New Journal, 15 August 2002)
"Martha Dandridge Custis Washington was at the center of attention her whole life; mistress of large plantations, married to two of the most influential and wealthy Virginians, and as Lady Washington, the General′s wife and First Lady. Unfortunately, with only a few of her actual letters extant, much of what we know about Martha Washington is from inference. Bryan mines the whole spectrum of the social, economic, and political world in which Martha moved, and even analyzes a few skeletons in the closet, not the least being the mysterious death of Martha′s brother–in–law, Mulatto Jack, a slave who had been designated to inherit the fortune that went to Martha′s first husband. The book is one of the best treatments anywhere of the early Virginia aristocracy; indeed, this comes in for so much emphasis that one half of the book covers the period before 1775. The author touches lightly on Martha′s sojourns with her husband during the military campaigns and as First Lady. Nevertheless, this book is a singular accomplishment, beautifully written and most enlightening about both Martha and George. Recommended for general and academic collections. Copyright 2002 American Library Association"
The privileged daughter of an established Tidewater family, a teenage bride to a rich plantation owner more than twice her age, and at twenty–six, a fabulously wealthy widow managing one of the largest land holdings in Virginia, Martha Dandridge Custis could have no inkling that the greatest drama of her life was still decades away.
Prepare to meet one of the best known and least understood figures of the American Revolution as you’ve never seen her before. Traditionally portrayed as an amiable hostess and the loyal companion of America’s greatest hero, Martha Washington emerges in this surprising biography as a complex, intelligent, fiercely capable woman who played a pivotal role in the founding of a nation.
This long overdue reappraisal of America’s first first lady explores how "the Widow Custis" met the challenges of running a huge plantation, examines her whirlwind courtship with the young George Washington, and reveals that the status he gained through their marriage was key to his appointment as commander of the Continental Army. Richly flavored with detailed descriptions of the realities of colonial life, Martha Washington: First Lady of Liberty also recounts Martha’s ceaseless efforts to provide clothing and shelter for the army when the Continental Congress failed to do so.
Author Helen Bryan explores many rarely mentioned aspects of Martha’s life, including the mysterious death of her mulatto brother–in–law, her frantic search for an effective treatment for her daughter’s epilepsy, and her profound unhappiness during Washington’s presidency.
Supplemented with numerous letters and other communications, vivid portraits of the lives of slaves on Virginia plantations, and first–hand accounts of the glittering social life enjoyed by the elite, Martha Washington is must reading for anyone interested in the American Revolution, colonial life, and the true story of one of the most important and remarkable women in American history.See all Product Description