Washington, Martha Custis

Washington, Martha (b. Dandridge) Custis

(1731–1802) First Lady; born in New Kent County, Va. Daughter of a wealthy landowner, she became even wealthier when her first husband, Daniel Parke Custis, died in 1757. She married George Washington in 1759. She had four children by her first marriage, two of whom died in childhood; George Washington helped raise the other two, and when the son, John Custis, died in 1781, his two youngest children were raised at Mount Vernon. During the American Revolution, she spent winters in army camps with her husband and organized a women's sewing circle to mend clothes for the troops. At Mount Vernon she proved a pleasant hostess, although she dressed very plainly and did not enjoy being first lady.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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