Dolley on the far right at monument celebration.
As we all know, Dolley was the first First Lady to open the White House to the public, to let everyone see the President's House, thus began her road to fame. After James' death, Dolley personified the, 'old' guard, the relic of the Revolution. She knew everyone and everyone loved her, and she loved them. She returned to Washington after James's death where her fame increased overnight. She was the 'queen' of Washington, usurping all First Ladies living in the White House.
When building the Washington Monument, they knew who to turn to for support, our Dolley. She had the qualities needed to raise the money, and advertisers focused on her graciousness and luster as a woman. She was genuine. She presented to Washington Society all that was good. Money was raised through fairs, fundraisers and other solicitations.
Ladies from the Revolution were given homage. Beside her was the widow of Alexander Hamilton, she'd never remarried after husband was killed in that famous duel with Aaron Burr. John Quincy Adams' widow also attended. The two former First Ladies plus Mrs. Hamilton stood right out front as the parades marched, bands played and speeches were made, but all eyes were on one particular lady, Dolley. By now she was almost destitute, dressed in black from an earlier age but still looking as regal and beautiful as ever before, was Dolley. By now, the slave who had helped her save the Washington portrait, was giving her money for food.
Railroad and coach fares were reduced for this event. People streamed in from far and wide to Washington to see what was happening and to witness Dolley laying the cornerstone of the monument. A 'delicious freshness' in the air captured Dolley as she smiled at them all. This beautiful eighty year old woman with the kind and gracious, gentle and forthright personality, had served, hosted, been invited, and enjoyed the company of everyone since the day of her birth and was loved by all.
I like to think that she went home, poured a glass of wine, and said, 'Here's to ya, old girl! You done good!" She also would've had a twinkle in her eye.
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