By Katherine Amelia Siobhan Sibley
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Extra resources for A companion to first ladies
John Quincy met them in London, and John himself joined them shortly there after, reuniting the couple after five years’ separation. The Adamses spent their first nine months in France, then moved on to London in mid‐1785, after John was named US minis ter to Britain. Abigail had been somewhat reluctant to come to Europe at all, fearful that she would make an “awkward figure” in European diplomatic circles, but she proved more than capable of managing her social duties. Initially mystified by the extravagance of Parisian life—the home they rented in Auteuil had scores of rooms, a far cry from their small saltbox cottage in Braintree—she eventually found it commonplace.
Among the visitors were politicians, gen erals, and dignitaries from Europe such as the Marquis de Lafayette, who had devel oped a close friendship with the president during the American Revolution. The new president and first lady, John and Abigail Adams, were guests of the Washingtons, as were James and Dolley Madison. Martha graciously hosted a veritable “who’s who” of the era at Mount Vernon (Anthony, 1990; Watson, 2000a). She also found herself overwhelmed by the amount of mail she received and was awarded by Congress the franking privilege of free mailing in order to cover the cost of correspondence.
Washington’s obituary in one newspaper described her as a “worthy part ner” for the foremost man of his times. Indeed the military commander Baron von Steuben wrote of her: “She reminded me of the Roman matrons of whom I had read so much, I thought that she well deserved to be the companion and friend of the greatest man of the age” (Field, 1994: xxiv). ” She was seventy years of age. Lady Washington remains an iconic figure. She has been depicted in books, paintings, and engravings, and was the first woman in American history to appear on a postage stamp and, in the nineteenth century, on the country’s currency—when her image graced the one‐dollar silver certificate in 1886.
A companion to first ladies by Katherine Amelia Siobhan Sibley