Thursday, September 25, 2008

1812: first White House wedding

In 1812, Dolley Madison, wife of fourth president James Madison, arranged the first marriage ceremony to be held at the White House -– the wedding of her widowed sister, Lucy Payne Washington, to a Supreme Court Justice, Thomas Todd.

Dolley herself was a widow who remarried. Her first husband was not the president, but John Todd, Jr., a lawyer who died of yellow fever after just three years of marriage, leaving Dolley with a young son.

For half a century she was the most important woman in the social circles of America. To this day she remains one of the best known and best loved first ladies, and apparently the only one who inspired an ice cream brand. Dolley served ice cream at her husband's Inaugural Ball in 1813. The ice cream brand spells her first name without the "e."

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