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The Papers of Martha Washington is the first scholarly edition of Martha Washington’s correspondence, spanning her entire life, from her youth as a wealthy but largely unknown Virginia plantation mistress through her ascent to becoming an American icon. Her family letters make up most of the volume, bringing to light Martha Washington’s personality in her own words.

This volume offers readers a more three-dimensional, accurate portrait of Martha Washington and enhances our understanding of women’s contributions to early American history.

As she rose to fame, Martha Washington began to correspond with such significant figures in American history as Mercy Otis Warren, Abigail Adams, Elizabeth Willing Powel, and the Marquis de Lafayette. Her correspondence paints a picture of social life during the Revolutionary War and the early republic. The dozens of people who sent condolence letters after her husband’s death are a who’s who of key Federalist figures at the turn of the nineteenth century.

Although Martha burned all but four of the letters between her and George Washington, the remaining documents tell a fascinating story about the early United States from a unique female perspective. Click here for a few examples. Other noteworthy additions include:

  • Over 80 new letters to or from Martha Washington
  • 4 new letters from Mercy Otis Warren, poet, playwright, and satirist of the American Revolution
  • 4 never before published letters from Martha Washington to her niece Fanny Bassett Washington Lear, in one of which she mentions Citizen Genet arriving in the United States.
  • 1 new letter (note) from Martha to George Washington, where she calls him "my love" (pg. 121)
  • Over 50 condolence letters, and responses to condolence letters, after Washington's death. These are from people from a wide range of backgrounds, from writers as high profile as the Marquis de Lafayette, to a man writing from prison.

Aside from correspondence, The Papers of Martha Washington also includes directories of key people and places, timelines, maps, editorial essays, a calendar of financial documents, and appendices documenting everything from the inventory of the contents of Mount Vernon to the division of dower slaves, serving as an invaluable historical tool and a readable introduction to the life of America’s first First Lady.


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