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Lettris is a curious tetris-clone game where all the bricks have the same square shape but different content. Each square carries a letter. To make squares disappear and save space for other squares you have to assemble English words (left, right, up, down) from the falling squares.
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|Tinted engraving by John Chester Buttre (1821–1893), after the portrait by Gilbert Stuart|
|First Lady of the United States|
April 30, 1789 – March 4, 1797
|Succeeded by||Abigail Adams|
June 2, 1731|
Chestnut Grove, New Kent County, Colony of Virginia
|Died||May 22, 1802
Mount Vernon, Virginia, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Daniel Parke Custis (1750-1757)
George Washington (1759-1799)
|Relations||John Dandridge and Frances Jones|
|Children||Daniel Parke Custis, Jr., Frances Custis, John Parke "Jacky" Custis, Martha Parke "Patsy" Custis|
|Occupation||First Lady of the United States|
Martha Dandridge Custis Washington (June 2, 1731 – May 22, 1802) was the wife of George Washington, the first president of the United States. Although the title was not coined until after her death, Martha Washington is considered to be the first First Lady of the United States. During her lifetime, she was known as "Lady Washington".
Widowed at 25, Custis had had four children with her late husband; two survived to young adulthood. She brought great wealth to her second marriage with Washington, which enabled him to buy much land and many slaves to add to his personal estate. She also brought nearly 100 "dower slaves" for her use during her lifetime; they and their descendants reverted to her late husband's estate at her death and were inherited by their heirs. She and Washington did not have children but they reared two children of her late son John Custis, who died during the Revolutionary War, as well as helping both of their extended families.
Martha Dandridge was born on June 2, 1731 on her parents' plantation Chestnut Grove in the British colony, Province of Virginia. She was the oldest daughter of John Dandridge (1700–1756), a Virginia planter and English immigrant, and Frances Jones (1710–1785) of English and Welsh descent. Martha had three brothers and four sisters: John (1733–1749), William (1734–1776), Bartholomew (1737–1785), Anna Marie "Fanny" Dandridge Bassett (1739–1777), Frances (1744–1757), Elizabeth Dandridge Aylet Henley (1749–1800), and Mary Dandridge (1756–1763).
She may have had an illegitimate half-sister (date of birth unknown), Ann Dandridge Costin, who was born into slavery and salvation; her enslaved mother was African and Cherokee and her father was believed to be John Dandridge. Her father may also have sired an illegitimate half-brother, Ralph Dandridge (date of birth not known), who was probably white.
On May 15, 1750 at age 18 Martha married Daniel Parke Custis, a rich planter two decades her senior. They lived at White House Plantation on the south shore of the Pamunkey River, a few miles upriver from Chestnut Grove. She had four children with him. A son and a daughter, Daniel (1751–1754) and Frances (1753–1757), died in childhood, but two other children, John (Jacky) Parke Custis (1754–1781) and Martha ("Patsy") Parke Custis (1756–1773) survived to young adulthood. Her husband's death in 1757 left Martha a rich young widow at age 25, with independent control over a dower inheritance for her lifetime, including properties and slaves, and trustee control over the inheritance of her minor children. "She capably ran the five plantations left to her when her first husband died, bargaining with London merchants for the best tobacco prices."
Martha Dandridge Custis, aged 27, and George Washington, aged nearly 27, married on January 6, 1759, at the White House plantation. As a man of the area, Washington likely knew both Martha and her late husband for some time before his death. In March 1758 he visited her twice at White House; the second time he came away with either an engagement of marriage or at least her promise to think about his proposal. At the time, she was also being courted by the planter Charles Carter, who was even wealthier than Washington.
The wedding was grand. Washington's suit was of blue and silver cloth with red trimming and gold knee buckles. The bride wore purple silk shoes with spangled buckles, which are occasionally displayed at Mount Vernon. The couple honeymooned at White House for several weeks before setting up house at Washington's Mount Vernon estate. They appeared to have had a solid marriage.
Martha and George Washington had no children together, but they raised Martha's two surviving children. Her daughter, nicknamed Patsy, died as a teenager during an epileptic seizure, classed as SUDEP. John (Jackie) Custis returned from college to comfort his mother.
Custis later married and had children; he served as an aide to Washington during the siege of Yorktown in 1781 during the American Revolutionary War. He died of "camp fever" (probably epidemic typhus). After his death, the Washingtons raised two of John's four children, Eleanor Parke Custis (March 31, 1779 - July 15, 1852), and George Washington Parke Custis (April 30, 1781 - October 10, 1857). They also provided personal and financial support to nieces, nephews and other family members in both the Dandridge and Washington families.
Content to live a private life at Mount Vernon and her homes from the Custis estate, Martha Washington followed Washington to his winter encampments for each of eight years. She helped keep up morale among the officers.
After the war, she opposed his agreeing to be President of the newly formed United States of America, and refused to attend his inauguration (April 30, 1789). Once he came to office, as the First Lady, Mrs. Washington hosted many affairs of state at New York and Philadelphia during their years as temporary capitals. (The capital was moved to Washington D. C. in 1800 under the Adams administration, following construction of the Capitol and White House).
||This article may contain original research. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding references. Statements consisting only of original research may be removed. (March 2012)|
Washington has traditionally been seen as a small, frumpy woman, who spent her days at the Revolutionary War winter encampments visiting with the common soldiers in their huts. But Nancy Loane, author of Following the Drum: Women at the Valley Forge Encampment, says there is no evidence that Washington visited with the common soldiers. She notes that Washington was fashionably dressed, assertive, and a woman of great wealth and independent means. She joined her husband for eight years during the Revolution for the winter encampment of the Continental Army. Before the revolution began, she had kept close to home; during it, she traveled thousands of miles to be with her husband. (Martha Washington journeyed to the General because she supported the cause of freedom and also because, as General Lafayette once observed, she loved "her husband madly").
The Continental Army settled in Valley Forge, the third of the eight winter encampments of the Revolution, on December 19, 1777. Martha Washington traveled ten days and hundreds of miles to join her husband in Pennsylvania. Primary documents of the Revolutionary period refer to Lady Washington's activities at the site.
Martha Washington took her familiar role as her husband's hostess at camp. On April 6, Elizabeth Drinker and three friends arrived at Valley Forge to plead with General Washington to release their husbands from jail; the men, all Quakers, had refused to swear a loyalty oath to the United States. Because the commander was not available at first, the women visited with Mrs. Washington. Drinker described her later in her diary as a “a sociable pretty kind of Woman.” Although unable to satisfy the women's demands, General Washington invited them to dine at headquarters that day. Drinker said the dinner with General and Mrs. Washington and fifteen officers was “elegant” but “soon over.”[page needed]
Martha Washington also socialized with the wives of the senior officers at Valley Forge. Years later, Pierre DuPonceau, an aide to Baron von Steuben, recalled that in the evenings the ladies and officers at camp would meet at each other’s quarters for conversation. During these social evenings each lady and gentleman present was “called upon in turn for a song” as they sipped tea or coffee. With the enemy camped nearby in Philadelphia, Washington prohibited dancing and card-playing at Valley Forge.
Charles Willson Peale painted a miniature of Washington—for which he charged his usual “56 Dollars”—and presented it to Martha, along with painting other miniatures of Washington. He also painted 50 other officers and their wives that winter.
Lady Washington took part in the camp’s May 6 celebration of the formal announcement of the French-American alliance. Soon after the thunderous feu de joie, when thousands of soldiers fired off their muskets, General Washington and his wife received other officers under a large marquee fashioned from dozens of officers’ tents. General Washington was said to have worn “a countenance of uncommon delight and complacence.”
Five days later, on May 11, Martha Washington and the commander attended the camp production of Cato, a favorite of the General’s. The Joseph Addison tragedy was performed by the staff officers for a “very numerous and splendid audience,” including many officers and several of their wives. One officer wrote that he found the performance “admirable” and the scenery “in Taste.”
Following the 1757 death of Martha's first husband, the widow received a "dower share," the lifetime use of (and income from) one-third of his estate, with the other two-thirds held in trust for their minor children. The full Custis estate contained plantations and farms totaling about 27 square miles (70 km2), and 285 enslaved men, women, and children attached to those holdings. In 1759, Martha's dower share included at least 85 slaves; she also would control any children they had, who became part of the dower.
Upon his 1759 marriage to Martha, George Washington became the legal manager of the Custis estate, under court oversight. Estate records indicate that Martha Washington continued to purchase supplies, manage paid staff, and make many other decisions. Although the Washingtons wielded managerial control over the whole estate, they received income only from Martha's "dower" third. The remainder went to the trust for the Custis heirs.
Washington used his wife's great wealth to buy land and slaves; he more than tripled the size of Mount Vernon (2,650 acres (10.7 km2) in 1757, 8,251 acres (33.39 km2) in 1787). For more than 40 years, her "dower" slaves farmed the plantation alongside his own. The Washingtons could not sell Custis land or slaves, which were held in trust first for Martha's only surviving child John Custis (who died during the Revolution), and then his heirs. Some of their respective slaves married, forming linked families. If the slave mother was part of the dower, so were her children.
Seven of the nine slaves whom President Washington brought to Philadelphia (the national capital, 1790–1800) to work in the President's House were "dowers". Pennsylvania passed a gradual abolition law in 1780, under which non-residents were allowed to hold slaves in the state for up to 6 months; after that date, they could claim freedom. The Washingtons rotated the President's House slaves in and out of the state before the 6-month deadline to prevent their establishing residency (and legally qualifying for manumission). Washington reasoned that should the "dowers" attain their freedom due to his negligence, he might be liable to the Custis estate for their value.
Martha Washington was upset when her lady's maid Oney Judge, a "dower" slave, escaped in 1796 from the Philadelphia household during Washington's second term. According to interviews with Judge in the 1840s, the First Lady had promised the young woman as a wedding gift to her granddaughter Elizabeth Parke Custis in Virginia and Judge feared she would never gain freedom. She hid with free black friends in the city, who helped arrange her travel by ship to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. There she married and had three children. Patricia Brady, in her 2005 biography of Martha Washington, writes:
Washington's slave Hercules, who had worked as his chief cook at the President's House (Philadelphia) before being returned to Mount Vernon in 1796, escaped from there on February 22, 1797. He was known to have traveled to Philadelphia and by December 1801 was living in New York City. His six-year-old daughter, still enslaved at Mount Vernon, told a visitor that she was glad her father was free.
By 1799 the number of "dower" slaves was 153, the number of Washington slaves was 124, and at least a dozen couples had intermarried. Washington's will stipulated that his own slaves were to be set free after his wife's death so that intermarried families would not be broken up.
Martha freed Washington's slaves less than a year after his death, on January 1, 1801. Abigail Adams, wife of the second President, had visited Mount Vernon two weeks earlier, and wrote: "Many of those who are liberated have married with what are called the dower Negroes, so that they all quit their [family] connections, yet what could she do?" Mrs. Adams suggested a motive for Martha to have freed Washington's slaves early:
"In the state in which they were left by the General, to be free at her death, she did not feel as tho her Life was safe in their Hands, many of whom would be told that it was [in] their interest to get rid of her–She therefore was advised to set them all free at the close of the year.–" (A. A. to Mary Cranch, 21 December 1800)
Following Martha's 1802 death, the "dower" slaves were inherited by her four grandchildren, the children of the late John (Jacky) Custis. She bequeathed Elisha, the one slave she owned outright, to her grandson George Washington Parke Custis.
The writer Henry Wiencek, in his 2003 book An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America, argues that Martha Washington owned a mulatto slave, Ann Dandridge, who was her half-sister. Dandridge had a child by Martha's son Jacky Custis. Wiencek bases his assertions on original documents he discovered in the files of Mount Vernon and the Virginia Historical Society. He says that previous historians ignored the documentary evidence that this half-sister existed, part of the silence about interracial relationships during the slave society. Wiencek believes this relationship was among the factors that led George Washington to call slavery "repugnant," and likely influenced Washington's decision late in life to free all his slaves.
Helen Bryan acknowledged Ann Dandridge and her relationship to Martha Dandridge in her 2001 Martha Washington: First Lady of Liberty, relying upon Wiencek's research. Bryan stated that the "shadow sister" was close to Martha's age and had been in the household with her since they were children.
In a brief bibliographical note at the end of her book (page 256), Brady denies the existence of Martha Washington's half-sister, and asserts that Wiencek and Bryan accepted "family mythology" and "lore" as fact. Brady does not offer a review of the documents which Wiencek used to assert the paternity of John Dandridge and relationship between Ann and Dandridge's legal children. Ann Dandridge's manumission is recorded–Land Records, Liber H., #8, p. 382; Liber R, #17, p. 288. In assessing the documents that have survived on this question, Wiencek notes that Ann Dandridge was omitted from the Custis estate records and the records of slaves at Mt. Vernon. Having studied plantation families for many years, Wiencek observes that family ties between slaves and slave owners were often kept hidden.
Mrs. Washington had a row galley named in her honor, the USS Lady Washington. It holds the distinction of being the first U.S. military ship to be named in honor of a woman and for a vessel named while the person was still alive (see also List of U.S. military vessels named after living Americans). It has a number of other distinctions as well, as the first ship named after a (future) First Lady and one of the few active vessels in the U.S. Navy named in honor of a woman (see also USS Hopper).
In 1902, Martha Washington became the first American woman to be honored on a U.S. postage stamp. This 8c issue was printed in black with Martha's portrait surrounded by an elaborate laurel wreath. In 1923, a second stamp was issued in her honor, a 4-cent definitive stamp. The third issue to honor Martha Washington was issued in 1938, a 1½¢ denomination stamp.
Martha Washington is the only woman whose portrait has appeared on the face of a U.S. currency note. It appeared on the face of the $1 Silver Certificate of 1886 and 1891, and the back of the $1 Silver Certificate of 1896. An 1856 national banknote carried The baptism of Pocahontas on its reverse face.
The First Spouse Program under the Presidential $1 Coin Act authorizes the United States Mint to issue 1/2 ounce $10 gold coins and bronze medal duplicates to honor the first spouses of the United States.The Martha Washington coin was released on June 19, 2007, and was sold out in hours.
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|New title||First Lady of the United States