Dolley Madison Digital Edition: 300 New Documents

Our Dolley Madison Digital Edition, edited by Holly C. Shulman, has been updated with 300 new documents, 360 additional identifications of people, places, and terms, and six new editorial essays exploring aspects of Dolley’s life during her widowhood in the 1840s.

This latest installment of the DMDE takes the reader through 1844 and the sale of Montpelier, the Madisons’ estate in Orange County, Virginia. In 1844 Dolley finally realized that her debts (and those of her son, John Payne Todd) had become too great for her to continue running the property; her only choice was to sell. This she did to a Richmond merchant with local family connections, Henry Wood Moncure. After 1844 Dolley would never again return to Virginia. As of this installment the reader has now twenty editorial essays on topics ranging from the enslaved community at Montpelier to the nineteenth-century “autographomania” that led collectors to seek out James and Dolley Madison’s signatures. Among the new biographical identifications are entries on nearly twenty members of the Montpelier slave community. Also new are three high-resolution images of Montpelier survey plats from the Orange County Courthouse that accompany an editorial essay by Ann L. Miller.

The images in the gallery below are scans of plats based on surveys in preparation for the sale of the Montpelier estate. The largest plat, covering two pages, includes the entire plantation and immediate surroundings.

Forthcoming installments of the DMDE will focus on Dolley’s life after her return to Washington, DC, locally honored and publicly feted, while privately still struggling to keep herself financially afloat.