chapter  5
15 Pages

“A Perfect Palace”

Dolley Creates the White House
WithAllgor Catherine

During the years of James Madison's tenure as secretary of state, 1801-1809, he and Dolley Madison experienced many personal changes and losses. In 1805, Dolley and James experienced one of the few separations in their marriage. Dolley's career is a perfect illustration of the gendered dynamic of early republican politics. Dolley's visibility as a unifying force had both positive and negative associations. Dolley Madison had intensified her efforts to connect and cultivate in order to ensure her husband the presidency. The construction of homes for public power was largely the province of men, such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who built the iconic Mount Vernon and Monticello, respectively. Dolley's manifestation of the president's house soon acquired a nickname—"The White House"—and became a symbol of the capital city. It is as this place of process that the White House mattered so much in early Washington.