A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation

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Macmillan, Apr 4, 2006 - Biography & Autobiography - 493 pages
41 Reviews
An extraordinary American comes to life in this vivid, groundbreaking portrait of the early days of the republic--and the birth of modern politics

When the roar of the Revolution had finally died down, a new generation of American politicians was summoned to the Potomac to assemble the nation's newly minted capital. Into that unsteady atmosphere, which would soon enough erupt into another conflict with Britain in 1812, Dolley Madison arrived, alongside her husband, James. Within a few years, she had mastered both the social and political intricacies of the city, and by her death in 1849 was the most celebrated person in Washington. And yet, to most Americans, she's best known for saving a portrait from the burning White House, or as the namesake for a line of ice cream.
Why did her contemporaries give so much adulation to a lady so little known today? In A Perfect Union, Catherine Allgor reveals that while Dolley's gender prevented her from openly playing politics, those very constraints of womanhood allowed her to construct an American democratic ruling style, and to achieve her husband's political goals. And the way that she did so--by emphasizing cooperation over coercion, building bridges instead of bunkers--has left us with not only an important story about our past but a model for a modern form of politics.

Introducing a major new American historian, A Perfect Union is both an illuminating portrait of an unsung founder of our democracy, and a vivid account of a little-explored time in our history.

 

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Review: A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation

User Review  - Goodreads

Very interesting to hear how instrumental Dolly Madison was in creating the role of First Lady. Her social skills were a great asset to her husband, James Madison. Read full review

Review: A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation

User Review  - Marcia Chandler - Goodreads

I read the book because I was curious about the famous story of Dolley saving the portrait of George Washington. In the 478 page book there was only two paragraphs (on page 313) about the incident. It ... Read full review

Contents

Prologue
1
Mrs Madison Goes to Washington
11
Meeting Madison
27
Lady About Town
41
Social Work
63
The Merry Affair
78
Portrait of a Lady
102
Sex Lies and the Election of 1808
121
The Republican Queen
232
Affairs to Remember
256
Mr Madisons War
280
Potomac Phoenix
305
To Home and History
339
Legacies
373
Epilogue
400
Notes
409

Lady Presidentess
139
Presiding Genius
155
The Great Centre of Attraction
173
Family Matters
202
Acknowledgments
471
Illustration Credits
479
Index
481
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

A professor of history at the University of California-Riverside, Catherine Allgor has received the George Washington Egleston Prize from Yale, the Lerner-Scott Prize from the Organization of American Historians, and the James H. Broussard First Book Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic for Parlor Politics. She was awarded a Bunting Fellowship for her work on Dolley Madison. Allgor lives in Riverside, California.

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