In many ways Martha Dandridge Custis Washington represented the ideal woman of the new American republic. She was not born of the aristocracy, but she gained the admiration and respect of all classes of people. She was devoted to her family and home, but she readily made personal sacrifices to join her husband in his public duties. During the Revolution, which she referred to as our cause, she gave up the comforts of Mount Vernon to travel every year to General Washington's winter quarters, and during his presidential administration she was called both dignified and democratic as she forged the role of the president's wife that would be followed for generations to come. She neither sought nor relished her public positions, yet by all accounts she carried out the duties thrust upon her with enormous consideration and care. A line from an Alexandria newspaper's obituary for Martha Washington aptly summarizes the essential role she played: She was the worthy partner of the worthiest of men.

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