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Dolley Madison: The Problem of National Unity

By: Catherine Allgor;

2012 / Westview Press / 9780813347608


First Lady of the United States and America's “Queen of Hearts,” Dolley Madison fashioned an unofficial role for herself in the new administration of the United States, helping to answer the nation's need for ceremony and leaving footprints for centuries of presidential wives to follow. Assisting her husband, James Madison, she helped to promote national unity, modeling a political behavior that stressed civility and empathy. Together, their approach fueled bipartisanship in a country still assembling a political identity. About the Lives of American Women series:Selected and edited by renowned women’s historian Carol Berkin, these brief biographies are designed for use in undergraduate courses. Rather than a comprehensive approach, each biography focuses instead on a particular aspect of a women’s life that is emblematic of her time, or which made her a pivotal figure in the era. The emphasis is on a “good read,” featuring accessible writing and compelling narratives, without sacrificing sound scholarship and academic integrity. Primary sources at the end of each biography reveal the subject’s perspective in her own words. Study questions and an annotated bibliography support the student reader.


  • Praise For Lives of American Women
  • Lives of American Women: Carol Berkin, Series Editor
  • Contents
  • Foreword
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Ch 1: A Triumphal Finish: the Madisons Leave Washington
  • Ch 2: A Perfect Match Dolley and James Madison
  • Ch 3: "More Agreeable Hours": the Secretary of State Years
  • Ch 4: the Merry Affair: Diplomatic Disunity
  • Ch 5: "A Perfect Palace": Dolley Creates the White House
  • Ch 6: "A Place To See and Be Seen": the Uses of the Drawing Room
  • Ch 7: the "Queen of Hearts": Dolley's Public Persona
  • Ch 8: "Mrs. Madison's War": Dolley's Role in the War of 1812
  • Ch 9: Washington Divided: Dolley's Work For Unity Under Fire
  • Ch 10: "A More Perfect Union": the Madison Legacy
  • Primary Sources: Making Your Own History
  • Study Questions
  • Notes and Bibliography
  • Index