Almanac: The 1st first lady

A 1757 oil painting by John Wollaston of Martha Dandridge Custis, the future Martha Washington. Washington & Lee University

(CBS News) And now a page from our "Sunday Morning" Almanac: June 2nd, 1731, 282 years ago today . . . the day Martha Dandridge was born near Williamsburg, Virginia.

She was just 18 when she married Daniel Parke Custis, a wealthy landowner, who died just a few years later.

For her second husband, the wealthy young widow chose a former militia leader and gentleman farmer named George Washington.

The newlyweds' arrival at Washington's Mount Vernon home was depicted in a 1984 TV mini-series, starring Barry Bostwick and Patty Duke:

George Washington: "My dear, I can't wait to see if Mount Vernon meets with your approval."
Martha Washington: "It is beyond my expectations."

Not that they ever spent a lot of time there together.

From 1775 to 1783, George was away commanding the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, with Martha occasionally joining him in the field.

An 1876 print of Martha Washington.
Library of Congress
In 1789, George left again to serve as our first President, with Martha as our FIRST first lady . . . though that title wasn't actually used until many years later.

She was addressed instead as "Lady Washington."

When they finally did return to Mount Vernon in 1797, their time together was short.

George died in 1799, with Martha following him three years later.

Martha Washington's memory has been honored with stamps and currency.

And to this day, a Martha Washington impersonator welcomes visitors to Mount Vernon . . . just a few miles down the Potomac from the capital that bears the name that both she and her husband shared.


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