Martha Washington became a recognized and beloved patriot for her service during the American Revolution. After the War both Martha and George expected to return to their private lives at Mount Vernon. Things changed, however, when George Washington was elected to lead the new American government. During Washington’s presidency, Martha also broke barriers when she became the recognized and admired first First Lady of the United States. Although she was unhappy and depressed at first, Mrs. Washington learned to navigate the complicated political world of the newly formed American republic. She proved to be a warm and gracious hostess who made people feel welcome at social gatherings where President Washington and other important political players met. The gatherings proved to be an important part of shaping the presidency, since they allowed Washington to make important political connections and also gave people the idea that their president was accessible to them. By drawing from the republican ideals of the time, the First Lady’s set social and political precedents for both for people and for future first ladies. Mrs. Washington understood the importance of the image she and President Washington portrayed to the nation and to foreign powers. Martha Washington broke barriers as she remained an active First Lady who had an enduring impact on American society.

The first First Lady

A Gracious Hostess

A Dignified Appearance

A Lasting Impact

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